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Keep Going

Austin Kleon holds a special place in my heart. As I started preparing this review, I thought back to the first time I "met him". It was just before my retirement date and I was consumed with angst about my next steps. With the upcoming financial relief from my pension I had options for work choices that had never before been possible.

To think through my decision, I started the exercises and routines of The Artist Way. During my weekly "artist date"at a local bookstore, I spotted Kleon's first book, Steal Like an Artist. His advice inspired me to do the work I love. I would find a way.

Not long after I read his book, I bought some window crayons and began writing motivational bathroom mirror messages to myself. After awhile I started sharing them with others. It was terrifying and exciting. My dream was to put more good out in the world. This was a first step to my new venture, which became Namaste Connections.

Fast forward five years later, I'm still unsure of all the details, but I keep taking steps. Kleon's newest book, Keep Going, came at a good time.

I have altered some of his ten ways ways, keeping in mind those of us who are making the rest of our lives, the best of our lives.

1. Everyday is Groundhog Day.

Included in this chapter is advice for all of us -

  • Take One day at a time.

  • Establish practices that move you forward each day.

  • Use the wise words of Goethe:

2. Build a Bliss Station.

My term for a bliss station is a Sacred Space. Read how you can create your own.

3. Forget the Noun, Do the Verb.

As yoga teacher Pattabhi Jois said: "Do your practice, and all is coming!" Read my post on this.

4. Make Gifts.

Offer your talents to someone who needs what you do ie. volunteer or do something nice for someone else. These are sure ways to give meaning to your days.

5. The Ordinary + Extra Attention = The Extraordinary.

When you practice everyday mindfulness, you will find magic in unexpected places.

6. Slay the Art Monsters.

A quote in this chapter from Sarah Manguso says it all: "If people read your work and, as a result, choose life, then you are doing your job." This sounds like a good way to be in this life!

7. You Are Allowed To Change You Mind.

A perfect quote from a former skeptic of climate change:"If you've never changed your mind about something. pinch yourself; you may be dead."

8. When in Doubt, Tidy Up.

Austin says tidying up is a form of productive procrastination. Do it without worry and it becomes a type of play. You can use the time as a type of mindfulness practice to solve a problem or find something that inspires you.

9. Demons Hate Fresh Air.

Enough said. Move. Go out in nature. Breathe.

10. Plant Your Garden.

Austin tells the story of Corita Kent, a nun, who spent the last two decades of her life quietly making her art. Outside her apartment's big bay window was a maple tree that became a type of teacher for her. A former student, Mickey Myers said:

"She learned from that tree. The beauty it produced in spring was only because of what it went through during the winter, and sometimes the harshest winters yielded the most glorious springs."

For the past six years, this maple tree has been one of my co-teachers at The Pines, a retirement community. From our yoga space we watch it through the seasons. Its constant presence is a refuge for birds and people. In autumn the red glow fills our classroom with audacious joy!

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