THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
Miriam Schulman: We’re put on this planet to create. This is our mission in life. Now, whether you’re creating artwork or you’re creating something else, it’s that you are a creator in this universe, not a consumer. Yes, we benefit from other people’s creations and they are benefiting from ours. And it’s okay to consume, as long as it doesn’t keep you from creating what you’re meant to create.
Speaker 2: It’s the Inspiration Place podcast with artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to The Inspiration Place Podcast, an art world inside a podcast, for artists, by an artist where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the art. And now your host, Miriam Schulman.
Miriam Schulman: Well, hey there, Artpreneur! Welcome to The Inspiration Place. This is Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration, and you’re listening to episode number 284. I’m so grateful that you’re here with me today. So today’s episode was inspired by—actually, this is gonna sound so dark, but it isn’t. It was inspired by a funeral that my husband and I attended recently. And it was a funeral for a very brave friend of my husband, Francine Kelman. I just felt like honoring her by sharing her name with you. So Francine lived with cancer for the past few years, and she’s been very brave. She’s been fully experiencing her life, even up until the very last moment. She’s not a young woman. She was born in 1950, so that makes her 73 years old. So not elderly, elderly, but definitely not young. So her death isn’t a tragic death. But the reason I’m talking about the funeral is because when we were at the graveside, the rabbi who was officiating at it, he kept up his theme of his graveside talk: “Life happens.” He kept saying, “Life happens, life happens.” And my husband asked me afterwards, “What did you think of that?” And I said, “I didn’t like that at all.” And he said, “Neither did I.” So my husband said, “Neither did I.”
He’s friends with this woman, Francine. I really didn’t know her that well. I think I met her once; I just know her through him. So she was like a work colleague, a friend of my husband’s. And he said she lived life with intention throughout her entire life. And that’s why neither one of us really liked it. But I also didn’t like the sermon just in general because I don’t think anyone should live their life with that idea that life just happens.
So that is what inspired today’s episode is because I do see a lot of people who just feel that life just happens to them, that they are at the effect of their life, and life kind of just bumps them around, instead of intentionally designing and creating their life. So in my book, Artpreneur, I chose a quote for each to begin each chapter, which is something that is not unique to my book. Almost all nonfiction books I’ve ever picked up start with some pithy quote. But in chapter two, I started with this quote by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and it says, “Remember that you must build your life as if it were a work of art.” The way that I interpret that is that you are designing your life. You are creating your life intentionally, versus just letting life happen. And another Heschel quote that’s similar to this that he said is, “Life is not something to be experienced; it is something to be created.”
So I am going to be pulling today some ideas from my ethnic background. So I am Jewish, and so I will be pulling stuff from Kabbalistic concepts, which is a very spiritual practice of Judaism. But the main takeaway from today’s episode is not a religious one. It’s really about being a creator in your life rather than a consumer. So I was trying to decide for this podcast episode whether I wanted to call it creating versus consuming, or build your life as if it were a work of art. I went with Create Your Life like a Work of Art, just because I felt that that title would resonate the most with artists. But a lot of this is going to be about not just consuming your life, not just letting life happen to you, but really being a co-creator in your life. So what Kabbalah teaches, and I know a lot of New Age spirituality practices teach, is that we are co-creators with a divine source. Divine source is, however you want to think and interpret that idea. Whether you consider the divine source, source, the universe, God, Jesus, whatever it is for you. But there is a divine purpose, and we each have a little spark in us, a little divine spark in us that compels us to create and innovate and transform lives. But here is what happens sometimes, and a lot of it is not your fault. We live in a consumer society.
There is so much that we’re able to consume, and none of us are perfect at this. By the way, including myself. I catch myself many times being a consumer of life rather than a creator. I’m going to share with you, though, some simple things that I see myself doing, and maybe you’re doing where we’re getting it wrong.
So I just finished a couple-part series on hoarders or themes related to decluttering and hoarding. Part of the reason is that we were consuming episodes of hoarders, and what made that show so satisfying, my husband and I admitted, is watching other people clean up so we didn’t have to clean up our messes. We got the satisfaction of watching other people clean up their homes and the satisfaction of seeing their stuff get cleaned up. Now, I would always justify it because as soon as the show is over, my husband and I always ran around our house cleaning and throwing stuff out, and I found myself throughout the shows questioning every single one of my life choices. So, there is some benefit. I’m not saying to be a monk and not consume anything. I’m not saying that at all. But you do have to be careful about when you’re over-consuming versus creating.
Another example of those of us who are consuming rather than living and creating our life is we’re watching other people exercise. Just going to pause for a moment because a lot of people are like, “No, no, no, I don’t watch other people exercise.”
Well, do you watch football? Do you watch baseball? That’s watching other people exercise. So notice in your life when you are getting satisfaction from the consumption of somebody else living their lives rather than you living their life, and sometimes this consumption can feel very productive.
Here’s an example today. So I just finished delivering an hour-long webinar for this organization called Creative Mornings. They partnered with my publisher, HarperCollins, and HarperCollins generously sponsored a Creative Mornings field trip. It took a lot of energy. A lot of energy. And it ended at 12. Okay, well, I don’t feel like doing any work right now. I’m going to go eat my lunch. I still didn’t feel like doing any work, so I flipped on YouTube. There was nothing there. And then, all of a sudden, I remembered, “Oh yeah, Brooke Castillo has a webinar going on at 1:00 on weight loss, and I want to lose weight.” I got maybe five minutes into it, and I pulled back and said, “This is not the best use of my time. This feels productive because I’m procrasti-learning. How many times are you procrasti-learning? This feels productive. But I only needed really an hour break from 12 to 1. That’s fine. So I’m not saying never to take breaks and never relax.”
It was fine for me to do some of it, but I had to pull back. I said, “You know what I should be doing right now? I shouldn’t be consuming somebody else’s creation right now. I should be creating a podcast episode.” So that’s what I want you to be careful about. When are you consuming versus creating?
Let’s talk about another way you can catch yourself: social media. How do you know if you’re over-consuming versus creating on social media? Are you the one who is receiving comments and receiving the DMs? Are you the one creating comments? Creating DMs? Now, I know it’s a little tricky because it says “creating” in that word, but if you’re the one commenting on somebody else’s stuff, you are really in the consumption of their content rather than putting something out in the world.
And of course, if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I don’t believe that you should be over-creating content for social media either. I don’t. But are you doing that instead of creating an email? Are you doing it instead of creating your art? Are you consuming videos on how to do things instead of actually doing the marketing? Because it feels like you’re doing something when you’re learning about the marketing, and it feels easier than actually doing the marketing. One of the things that I noticed that separates the most successful artists inside my incubator program, and the ones who struggle more, is that the ones who are more successful have all shared with me that they did not over-consume on the videos.
So when you join my incubator program, I have a huge database of masterclasses and mindset sessions. You really can spend a lot of time in there, and I don’t want my clients to spend a lot of time in there. I want them to spend most of their time taking action. Patrick Guindon, who’s been on this podcast, he shared with me that what he would do is he would choose one topic to focus on each week. In other words, one video, which maybe is 30 minutes to no more than an hour. And he would spend the rest of his time implementing what he learned. That’s why at the end of the year, he was so much more successful than some of my other clients who are mostly in the consumption mode of. They even put on their to-do list, “I’m going to watch three of Miriam’s videos this week.” That’s not going to help you. That’s not going to help you. Yes, my strategy works, but only if you implement it. If you have more time to implement, then consume the videos. I always, always want you to spend your time implementing what you learn. That’s even true of this podcast. When you’re done listening to this podcast, hey, it’s great for me if you go listen to another podcast, like and if you’re in your car, if you happen to be, I’m making this up now. I’m just thinking about the times that I binge listen to podcasts. When I used to have to be all day at my son’s wrestling matches just to watch him for six minutes, I usually was listening to podcasts or books on tapes or things like that.
That’s a great time to be consuming that kind of content. But if you’re just home in your studio, don’t confuse the two of consumption and creating. Okay, so that’s concept number one: to focus more on creation rather than consuming.
Miriam Schulman: Here’s something else that I want to share with you. I want to circle back to that idea of intention, the power of intention, whether that is your intention in your art, intention in your life, and your spirituality. This is the concept of Kavanah, which is the Hebrew word for intention. In Kabbalistic teachings, we emphasize the significance of intent in both art and life. But now I want to bring in a quote from a secular teacher, Wayne Dyer, because I think it really sums up this point really well. He says, “Our intention creates our reality.” So it’s about fusing your human intention along with that divine guidance.
But here’s where that creation and consuming can be very confusing for us, and why it’s so easy to slip into this, and why I keep circling back to it as kind of a warning post on all of this, because your brain cannot tell the difference between imagining something happening in your mind and the feelings you get from imagining it and actually doing it.
Which is why when I watch the hoarder show, I got satisfaction from their cleanup without actually cleaning up. Now, here’s the flip side of that. If you want to live into a better future, the first step is to start imagining what your life would look like in that future and generate the emotion that you will have in that future. Because those positive emotions that you feel once you get there, those are the emotions you need now to create it, to turn that intention into reality, as Wayne Dyer said.
Now, one of the best ways to do this, so it doesn’t feel so hard, so it doesn’t feel like so much effort, is to pull in guidance, guidance from the universe, guidance from your divine, guidance from your spirit team, whatever that looks like for you, and really shape that partnership. So as we move into this phase of the podcast, let me share a quote by Deepak Chopra: “You and the universe share a cosmic connection, a bond that existed before your birth and will continue after your death.” This bond, there is a balance, though, of free will and divine guidance.
Now we can choose not to follow this guidance, not to co-create with the divine. But you need to keep reminding yourself that you do want to create in the world and put something out there in the world. What we were talking about in the last few weeks, where people run into trouble with hoarding, is they actually are confusing creating a hoard with creating something that is of value. Their hoard becomes their creation, and that’s why it’s so difficult for them to let go of their hoard. They feel very attached to that hoard that they created. They may not even be doing it on a conscious level. You’d think they don’t want to live like that, but they associate those things, those material objects that they’ve accumulated, as a creation. They’ve confused it.
As we’ve been talking about in the last couple of weeks, sometimes we confuse it. It may not look like something anyone would be interested in watching on TV, but have you accumulated art supplies? Have you accumulated ideas? Have you accumulated finished artworks that you’re not marketing? Are you feeling attached to those creations and not selling them because selling those pieces feel like you’re losing a piece of yourself?
Miriam Schulman: Let’s circle back to the idea now of some practical steps to create your life like a work of art, using this divine partnership that we’ve been talking about. So number one, vision and prayer. Now, by prayer, you can also substitute the word meditation.
Those of you who have a very strong Christian practice, this may be your scriptures. Those of you who are not Christian like me, it could be your background, your Judaic, or if you’re Islamic, it could be any religion you have. But it could also just be meditation. It does not have to be a religious prayer. What I want you to do is start with this clear vision in mind, and then pray or meditate, whichever feels more in alignment with you, seeking alignment with your divine purpose. Remember what I said earlier? Our brain can’t tell the difference between something that we’re imagining and something that’s actually happening. So you might as well imagine the most wonderful thing ever. So imagine this happening. That’s step one.
Number two, sketch with intuition. I use the word sketch because it makes a great pun for you artists, but it’s more about making a plan now while being open to divine inspiration. So we talk about how you get results and I talk about this in Artpreneur that you start with your thoughts. Your thoughts generate emotions, which are either going to be positive or negative, and those emotions are either going to fuel the correct inspired action or could inhibit you from taking action. Because if you have fear, you’re not going to take action. If you’re motivated and inspired and dedicated and determined, those emotions are going to help you take inspired action that may feel risky.
But if you have that ultimate vision, if you did your job in step one, taking those action steps to get there will be so much easier.
Step number three, materials and blessings. Recognize the resources that you do have as blessing and tools provided by the universe. One of the things that always propelled me forward is that when I was inspired to create and paint, I never let not having a specific art supply stop me from creating. I would make use of what I had. So if that meant using a matte medium instead of glazing fluid, I did it. But bless what you have. Bless your resources and this is about also stepping into gratitude. One of the things that I talk to with my clients is they worry that when they focus on the things they want in their life, they will step into a scarcity mindset because they’re focusing on the gap between what they want and what they have. One of the fastest ways to overcome it is to make a list of things that you want, but include things you already have. So that’s what this step three is about is, “I want watercolor supplies, and thank you, universe, I have watercolor supplies.” Or whatever it is. “I want a healthy body. Thank you, universe, that I have a healthy body.” “I want two eyes that can see.” I am so grateful that I have two eyes that can see and then interlace things you don’t have yet that you want.
Along with these, it will step you in a place of abundance while still being motivated about what you don’t have yet. But it will keep you focused in gratitude rather than on lack.
Step number four, inspired action and flow. Stay attuned to synchronicities and signs as you take action. In one of my earlier podcasts, I talked about how I was missing signs because I didn’t believe my friend Patty Lennon had challenged me to look for purple feathers. I was like, “Oh, I can’t find any purple feathers. I’m in New York City. What am I supposed to do, go into a purple feather shop or Halloween shop? I don’t know. I wasn’t seeing any purple feathers. I was seeing gray feathers of pigeons on the street. I wasn’t seeing purple feathers.”
Then I went to the country, and I thought, “Well, there’s no way I’m going to see purple feathers out here. There are no purple feathers out here. I’m in the country.” However, what I didn’t realize is that there were purple feathers literally all over my house. Why? Because I had purple peacocks that I painted, huge ones, like three feet long. And then I even stopped at my daughter’s, she had a six-foot purple peacock that I painted. It wasn’t until later when I realized I missed those signs because I wasn’t in a state of belief.
So when you do these steps in this order – vision and prayer, following your intuition, stepping into gratitude – then number four, you will be more tuned to the synchronicities and the signs as they appear. Staying in that belief, you will see those purple feathers. Sometimes those signs are there, and we just can’t see them because we’re not attuned to them.
Number five, step five, refinement and reflection. So continuously assess what you want, what your goals are, what the steps you’re taking and stay in gratitude, recognizing that the divine hand is with you in your journey. The universe has your back. Whatever you believe, whatever that divine source, that higher power is, it’s a co-creator with you. It wants you to create. That we actually, as humans, were put on this planet to create. This is our mission in life. Whether you’re creating artwork or something else, it’s not about whether what you create is fine art or not. It’s that you are a creator in this universe, not a consumer. Yes, we live in a capitalist society, and yes, we benefit from other people’s creations, and they are benefitting from ours. It’s okay to consume, as long as it doesn’t keep you from creating what you’re meant to create.
Miriam Schulman: We’re going to wrap up, but before we do so, I want to talk about the spiritual emptiness of a life lived through mere consumption.
So let me ask you, are you a witness to others’ creativity, or are you creating it yourself? I want to encourage you to cultivate a deeper connection, whether you do that spiritually or not, whether you do that through morning pages or not, but recognize that you have the free will to create or consume. And if you’re listening here to The Inspiration Place, I’m going to assume you’re here today because you want to create, you want to be inspired. Look for meditation, prayer, journaling, or any methods you need to tune into your divine spark. And if you need help along that journey, you know I’m here for you, whether it’s through my book Artpreneur or my coaching program, the Artist Incubator. Both of these things are in alignment with these principles.
Your life is a divine canvas. Know that you are meant to co-create with the universe. All right, my friend. We’re going to link up anything I’ve talked about in today’s show notes. This is episode 284. As always, you can find anything I talked about over at SchulmanArt.com/284. Don’t forget, if you liked this episode, you’re going to love the book Artpreneur, especially in the audible format. To order it and get your exclusive bonus package, head on over to ArtpreneurBook.com. Okay, my friend, thanks so much for being with me here today. I’ll see you same time, same place next week. Until then, stay inspired.
Speaker 2: Thank you for listening to the Inspiration Place podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at facebook.com/schulmanart, on Instagram @SchulmanArt, and of course on schulmanart.com.
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