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I have been painting in watercolor since 1993. Recently my class went to a place that was the scene of my first attempt at watercolor. I nearly wrote "scene of the crime" because, at the time, my early efforts seemed poor enough to have constituted a crime against the art of watercolor.

I've saved one of the paintings I did that first day to remind myself that there has been improvement. The painting location is a lake surrounded by mountains and forest, and a main feature of the painting was that I felt obliged to paint every tree trunk--producing a stockade effect.

On my recent visit, I noticed a tendency--not as exaggerated--to do the same. For a moment I found myself getting angry at the landscape for providing so strong a temptation to the unwary painter. Then I laughed and painted out the offending tree trunks.

I laughed because the incident reminded me that all creative acts combine choice and focus. When we create our lives our equipment is not physical brushes and pigments. The color we use is the passion of our desires, and the agent for transferring the color to our lifescapes is our focused intentions and thoughts.

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So Many Choices

Painting outside always presents a number of pitfalls to the novice artist. It's far too easy to get overwhelmed by everything that's there and to want to include it all in one painting. A related tendency is that of giving everything equal emphasisÑso that a mountain is as important as a lake. As much detail may be given to the lake as to the trees, and the curve of every cloud is outlined in detail.

Such a painting lacks focus. Anyone who looks at it feels assaulted by information overload. It's as if you were to read a book in which the author gave as much attention to every subplot as to the main story line and where it's hard to tell who the main characters are.

Sometimes our lives seem that way, too. I've noticed, for example, that those new to vibrational healing and metaphysics often want to learn everything at once. They take a course in crystals, one in flower essences, sign up for tai chi and chi kung lessons, and take workshops in out of body experiences, angels, and shamanic drumming.

It's great fun to browse through the seemingly infinite array of metaphysical subjects for the purpose of seeing what interests you most and then choosing a small number of areas to learn in depth. Otherwise, your consciousness, like a painting crowded with details, will be seething with confusion, and your life will feel unfocused.

People create comparable levels of chaos in their lives when they can't say no. They agree to join whatever committees others ask them to, take on too much at work, and create rising stress levels for themselves. This is in part because they've lost their sense of priorities and no longer know what their lives are about.

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When Things You Don't Want Come into the Picture

Imagine that I'm sitting on the beach painting a seascape. I want to capture the movement of the sky and sea, but there's a big rock right in the middle of my view. It doesn't fit in at all with my intention, but it's there. Should I include it in my painting?

At one point I would have, but not now. I've reached the point of knowing that what's there can be ignored if it gets in the way of what I want to create. It has been easier to do that than to achieve the same ability in life.

In 1987 I decided we wanted to have a crystal store. Some of my friends were very vocal about what a bad idea this was. The economy wasn't strong enough, crystals were just a fad, I had no experience in business, and I would surely fail. I'd do far better to stay in my secure job in the typographic industry. (With friends like this, you might ask, who needs opponents?)

My enthusiasm for the store had the kind of flow and movement of the sea and sky. It was sweeping, powerful, until it hit the rock of others' opinions. Water knows how to flow around obstacles, but I wasn't quite that talented. I brooded, and my thoughts became as heavy and unmoving as a huge boulder.

Was I mistaken? I wondered. Deluded? Courting disaster? I might have given up (and if I had there would probably be no Beyond the Rainbow web site, and you'd never be reading this). I believed, though, that if my desires were powerful enough and if my ability to imagine what I wanted was strong, I could not only flow around obstacles but paint them out of the picture.

To do that required seeing the world in a different way, not as a battleground that bred defeat but as a playground for realizing opportunities and dreams. I believed we could choose what we wanted in it and ignore what we didn't.

To focus creative energy, my partner, Joyce, and I envisioned our store in detail (to the point of placing a programmed quartz cluster on a map of Greenwich Village, our chosen location). We pored over catalogs, imagining beautiful crystals on our shelves. We saw (and heard) ourselves sharing our knowledge with customers and learning from them. We visualized workshops and classes.

We painted a picture that mirrored our wishes, and we brought it to life. It lives today in a different form, one which we created with the same outpouring of passion. In that picture there are no rocks, no obstacles.

(Meanwhile, the so-called stable typographic industry has shrunk in response to the advance of desktop publishing technology. Neither of the companies we worked for now exist.)

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It Applies to People, Too

You love your spouse/partner, but (s)he does certain things that you don't like. You really don't like them. In fact, you hate them. Sometimes you think you might scream. When you really think about them murder seems like a reasonable solution.

So don't think about them.

"But you don't understand. The evidence of his bad habits is there. Am I supposed to ignore them?"

What a good idea. But you don't have to. It's your picture, and you can put in anything you want. Wouldn't you prefer to paint a lifescape that makes you happy when you look at it?

I'm not saying to ignore that your beloved has left a trail of liquid on the kitchen floor that's attracting every ant in the Northern Hemisphere. Beg, implore, and insist, if necessary that he clean up after himself. However, while driving in traffic, are you suddenly remembering what a slob he is and getting as angry as you did when you saw the ant armies? Are you lying awake at night thinking your life is ruined and wondering why you ever married him?

That's called growing rocks, and the antidote is to rememberÑmaking a list if necessaryÑof his many, many good traits. Relive magical moments of your relationship, recall every loving thing he's said to you. You can get that rock so small that it disappears from your view altogether.

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Design Your Work of Art

Here's a review of the principles:

  1. Don't include so much that your work of art loses its focus. Even if you like it all, narrow it down.
  2. Don't ever include anything you don't like, even if other people tell you to, even if it looks so big you don't see how you can leave it out. You can. And one more principle:
  3. Enjoy the act of creation. Once a painting is finished or a dream manifested, it's enjoyable to look at it, but the real joy is in the journey there. Whether you're dropping paint onto paper or focusing energy and enthusiasm on a greatly desired goal, you summon forth pure creative energy. Appreciate and savor it. It's what life is all about.

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Artistic Tools

In general, shape is a primary consideration when you think about focusing and directing energy. Wands with pointed ends, obelisks, and pyramids are all useful for this purpose.

A fluorite pyramid may be placed on the forehead during meditation to help give you a comprehensive picture of what you want. Since fluorite is known as the genius stone, it will also stimulate new images and thoughts.

Calcite in any form helps you to see your life situations from a different plane of reality. Since this frees you from the limitations of the reality to which you are most accustomed, you can paint some powerful lifescapes. You may find holding a calcite obelisk while in meditation especially helpful for this.

You can also think about the area of life on which you want to focus. An aventurine wand might help you to focus on physical well-being. Hematite could help shield you from the distraction of others' emotions or viewpoints.

A generally useful crystal for focusing your thoughts and desires is clear quartz, especially in the form of a generator (point). For maximum effect, program a point and hold it while meditating and visualizing your dream in all its colorful aspects.


There are three primary Bach Flower Remedies for decision making.

Wild Oat is for people who can imagine so many choices that they have difficulty narrowing down their choices.

Scleranthus is for those who are torn between two seemingly opposite choices.

Cerato is for those who, although they are capable of making their own decisions, feel compelled to ask the opinions of as many people as they can persuade to listen.

I can think of many Wild Earth Animal Essences that might apply to creativity, but the two who seem most appropriate are Spider and Dolphin.

The strands of a spider's web create a harmonious patterm, a whole. Its world is one of balance and connection. It has the gift of being able to both create and to travel through its creations. It is an inspiring model for all who would create beauty and harmony in their own lives.

Dolphin is an amazing artist in its own way, creating images with sound. Thus, it can teach us to expand our definitions of creativity and to appreciate the infinite ways in which energy can express itself. This animal is also one of the greatest teachers of joy and playfulness.

Beyond the Rainbow
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