“Lessons in life come bearing the gift of wisdom. We miss this gift when we begin to identify with the challenge or set back as “who we are.” You are more than that – as is everyone else on this planet. We are far greater than we can imagine, but we doubt and we allow our current circumstances to dictate our possibilities.
This is perhaps one of the greatest mistakes we can make. Our circumstances are here, but they are not who we are.”—Mastin Kipp, blogger, truth-teller and inspirer.
“Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. The new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable, i.e. open.”—Stephen Russell, writer
“Don’t focus just on how things are – focus on how you want them to be and then get about making life the way you want it to be. Your life today is the sum of all the choices you’ve made up until now – what your life will be is determined by the choices you make from this moment forward.”—Mastin Kipp
“We cannot let how much money we do or do not have define us. We cannot let success define us. We can let go of the need of the approval of other people. When we don’t mind what happens, we can step into simply being ourselves and sharing.”—Mastin Kipp ~ Blogger, Daily Lover, Inspirer, Motivator
“Each of us has an inner dream that we can unfold if we will just have the courage to admit what it is. And the faith to trust our own admission. The admitting is often very difficult. What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us.”—Julia Cameron, American Artist
I have never labelled myself a “writer”. I enjoy jotting down my thoughts and ideas — usually into a private journal — but I am easily frustrated by the entire process of editing. So, let me apologize ahead of time for the occasional disjointed flow of my words and thoughts.
Saying “Thank You” is often the best medicine. I pride myself in making sure that I thank the people who have shown me kindness. One might argue that I go overboard at times, but I’m okay with that. There are far worse personality traits out there. I will settle for “he’s an over-thanker” any day! (Seinfeld might have called me that.)
I find the physical action of writing words on paper forces me to reevaluate whether or not certain events in my life — my struggles and challenges in particular — have helped me move in the right direction. Reading the details of an old chapter in one’s life story can be very enlightening.
I’ve decided to merge two letters of Thanks into one, this time. Originally, I had written down my feelings in a timely fashion, as they occurred. But an unfortunately timed power-outage erased a few thousand words from my Mac, in an instant… and I figured it might be best to do some rewriting before losing any clarity.
— Bruce Wheeler, July 18th, 2013
Eyes Wide Open, Now
(A Personal Thank You, Built For Two)
Saturday, May 4th, 2013
by Bruce Wheeler
To: Canadian artist Andrew Salgado, for being a powerful (and unexpected) inspiration.
To: A bright, thoughtful Ottawa psychiatrist Name Withheld for his gentle guidance and life-altering advice.
As I walked away from the gallery, last night…
…my head was still buzzing lightly from a second glass of champagne. I had just spent two wonderful hours attending a vernissage for Canadian artist Andrew Salgado, and I was feeling unusually optimistic about… well… everything.
It was unseasonably warm outside for Ottawa, in early May. Pure sunshine all day, light breeze, trees and tulips blooming brilliant greens and fresh yellows. Every pub and patio in the Byward Market was at capacity, tourists clad in shorts and tee shirts.
Salgado’s show at La Petite Mort Gallery — titled “The Smallest Heart’s Desire” — had been highlighted on my calendar for a number of weeks, and I figured it would be a kick-ass exhibit. I had already familiarized myself with his vivid, modern abstract paintings, but I’d never had the opportunity to see them up close. And yet somehow, it had still crossed my mind to bypass the opening night meet-and-greet with the artist. My usual reasons for staying home had all started to resurface — fear of looking out of place, fear of navigating crowds, plus that general feeling of inferiority… blah, blah, blah…
I needed a pick-me-up… and I wanted a mood elevator that didn’t come in a bottle. I’d already garnered enough social anxiety to make my hands shake and my stomach feel acidic. So… I pushed myself. And it payed off. My happy pill was delivered in the form of three simple words from a brilliant painter, spoken quietly in my ear during his Art show. Mr. Salgado leaned over and told me to “Go for it.”
Yesterday: A Sort-of Breakup…
Thursday had been a doozy… I had reached the last of a series of therapy sessions, and I was emotionally exhausted. After a six-month run of appointments with a new psychiatrist, I found the idea of not having him in my life to be impossible. I couldn’t face it.
I had become so used to expecting failure, that I envisioned any future success (or happiness) could never be achieved without his guidance. And I had grown so fond of him… like a friend who is there to listen and support you, despite your perceived flaws. From my perspective, this had been a relationship of close, raw honesty — albeit in a clinical environment. Every week, I was able to sit in comfort and receive emotional feedback from another gay man, in a way that I never had before. And even though the relationship occurred under a professional “structure”, it registered deeply, intimately, in my heart. It was — and always will be — one of the most important “relationships” of my life.
I mean… it had become obvious — both to me and to him — that I truly had healed in a variety of ways. In a relatively short period of time, I had gone from confused, inactive despair to a mindset where I was able to break out of my comfort zone and begin acting on my goals. So… once that inevitable final session arrived, my anxiety peaked a bit. The moment I sat down with him and he asked me: “How do you feel about today being the end of our talks?”… I will just say that my heightened emotion came as no surprise to either of us, and it had to be let go.
The pain I was feeling had been coming from my own skewed interpretation that this wonderful therapeutic “relationship” was ending like a bad breakup. I was fine, physically, but I felt like I had just experienced my first broken heart.
After an hour of experiencing the ebb and flow of tears (more flow than ebb) we said our goodbyes, shook hands and I walked away, wishing I could have given him a big thank you hug. My eyes were puffy and red (my aviators came in handy). In my head, I kept hearing his voice—gentle and reassuring—reminding me: You are making progress, you are overcoming your fears, you will succeed.
But I still had doubts.
Andrew Salgado and the gallery visit…
I can’t help but think that fate played a role in having me visit “The Smallest Heart’s Desire” the day following that last therapy session. The past twelve months had changed me — both physically and emotionally. I had written (over-blogged ?) about hardship and self-discovery and the vital importance of being honest with loved ones. I had come out to my friends online, for cryin’ out loud. I’d travelled from being the “New Out-and-Proud Gay Man” to being the “Troubled Artist Losing His Vision” and eventually just settled into the role of the “Why The Fu*k Did I Throw Away Twenty Years?’ Guy”
Yesterday, it was as though I was teetering on a ledge, confusedly and without wings, wondering “What the HELL do I do NOW?” …and just 24 hours later, I was sipping champagne and reveling in the excitement of someone else’s creativity.
Underneath Andrew Salgado’s broad, dynamic, soulful globs of paint, all I could see was possibility, and the potential for my own Artistic “coming out”. I found myself shaking hands with a well known Artist whose work I had only seen previously on my desktop screen.
It was hard not to feel starstruck. Andrew Salgado has the aura and appearance of a very tall, handsome angel. He stood in front of me and asked: “Which painting stands out for you?” and I could tell immediately: this is one of the good guys. Even though he usually creates huge, powerful (and darkly moving) paintings, he speaks with a friendly, positive energy that comes across as genuine. And in truth, I was surprised that he actually wanted to know about me, too.
So, I made a conscious decision to respond to all questions with full truths, no holding back. I was asked about my Art background, and my hopes and goals for the future. I told him about my vision loss and how it has taught me to try harder. I mentioned how living a life full of regret has gotten me nowhere, and that I refuse to believe that my eyesight means that I cannot still create.
And… I did answer his question about my personal “favourite” at the show. I had felt an immediate connection to his painting titled “Understudy” (oil on canvas). It gave off just the right pulse of emotion to make me stop (and stare) over and over again. Every element of that piece spoke to me…the rich colour, the large scale, the simplicity of the composition… and the beautiful, troubling expression on the face of the subject itself — a male figure, head and shoulders, slouched ever so slightly and emoting a quiet, hidden sadness underneath his masculine features. This is an outwardly rugged man who is masked and vulnerable… and I feel as though I understand him completely.
Before leaving the gallery, I paused outside just long enough to overhear a few attendees having a chuckle over the fact that a child in attendance had asked his parents about “the painting with the erect penis.” (rather funny because the penis in question was not erect.) As it turned out, one of the guys introduced himself as Mr. Salgado’s partner, and the two others were young friends who were visiting from Toronto. We talked for a few minutes, and it became apparent rather quickly that the adage “Birds of a feather…” is true. Each of them echoed the same cheerful, friendly advice that Andrew had given me. They advised me not to hold back when it comes to lofty goals… and keep trying… even if the vision gets blurry.
People come into your life and they either make it better or make it worse. Having the ability to learn from both sides is what makes you stronger. It’s not rocket science. Get rid of the bad guys and don’t dwell on the hate; hold on to the good guys and celebrate the love.
So I am holding on to the memory of my experiences with these two gentlemen…time spent wisely and filled with a certain level of awe… One of them — a single evening with an Artist in the truest sense, and the other — a period of months with a doctor who altered my perception of Hope and Possibility.
“What will determine why one person succeeded and one person failed? Ultimately - it’s not about how much money they have or how much time they have - it’s about what meaning they give the events of their lives.
Giving the events of your life (even and especially the crappy ones) an empowering meaning is something we condition. It’s something we get stronger and stronger at over time. It’s not a quick fix. But we can rewire our brain (aka our thoughts) to look out into the world from a different point of view.”—Thoughts on empowerment and meaning, from the always-inspirational Mastin Kipp (creator of The Daily Love)
“Living in fear is so last season, if you want to be happy and really live your dream you have to take a stand and just put yourself out there. You might fail, yes indeed - but, you might, you just might succeed too! Don’t you want to find out? Either way your life will never be the same… Can you handle it?”—Jackson Kiddard, author and philosopher
“Today, take your focus off of what is wrong and focus on what is right and how you desire things to be. Put all your love, energy, mental power and decision making towards what you want and do not entertain thoughts that are to the contrary. You are MORE responsible for the way you feel than your environment, circumstances or relationships. Step towards Love today, step towards the solution.”—Jackson Kiddard, French Philosopher and Author.
“Our dreams need us to get over ourselves. Our dreams need us to take responsibility for them. Our dreams need us to SHOW UP even when we don’t feel like it. They are fragile and need tender Loving care. Dreams take time and are often tests of Faith. Let’s meet the test!”—Mastin Kipp, smart fella’. Check him out at The Daily Love.
“Taking action with the understanding that you are going to mess up… taking action with the knowledge that you aren’t going to get it right, taking action knowing that you MUST and course correct as you go - THAT is what dreams are made of.”—Starting off June with the right attitude, courtesy Mastin Kipp.
“The events that occur happen to shape us, to mold us and to help us step into who we are supposed to be. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are eternal and a part of a living Uni-verse that supports you. Give us your gift and don’t stay stuck in a moment and let your whole life be defined by one event. You are so much more than that!”—Mastin Kipp, one very Inspiration-filled dude.
“Don’t let your success and the fear of losing something great that you’ve built stop you from taking more risks.
To keep going, to keep innovating, to keep trying and risking – that is what we must do.
Innovation comes from the open mind. Excitement comes from risk. Fulfillment comes from doing it for more than just yourself.”—Mastin Kipp, inspiring writer and creator of The Daily Love.
“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen… The most ordinary word, when put into place, suddenly acquires brilliance. That is the brilliance with which your images must shine.”—Robert Bresson, French Filmmaker
When we focus only on the problem – we get MORE of the problem. And it becomes not only the story of your life, but also your IDENTITY. And when you identify – as in - who you are is now the problem, the likelihood of thriving reduces significantly.
If we wish to thrive, if we wish to live an extraordinary life, if we wish for miracles and to be able to SEE solutions – we must go looking for them. This means that we become aware of the pathology, understand the pathology and then set our minds (i.e. our psychology) on to an outcome of thriving, rather than on the pain of the problem.
“Each and every one of us - and that includes - YOU - is a unique soul. We have a unique gift. We are great at something. And life comes into balance and our fullest expression begins to be realized when we align with our true nature rather than being a part of the herd or rebelling against the herd.
The journey is within. When we listen to and act from that place - we are trendsetters - we are unique - we are special - and ain’t no one else like us is made.
And what’s cool is when we start to belong to ourselves and express ourselves - we put out a different frequency and, as a result, we start attracting and meeting people who are on that new wave length. And what’s so cool is in doing so, we no longer need to chase people. When we belong to ourselves, we find who else we belong to.”—A lengthy—and rather awesome—quote from Mastin Kipp. (Now get your butt out there and express yourself!)
“It’s very hard to solve “world peace” and much more manageable to think a peaceful thought. And guess what… world peace begins in your mind.
It’s the accumulation of many small steps that create movements, epic outcomes and grand ideas to come into manifestation.”—Mastin Kipp, founder of The Daily Love.