The Art of Exercise – Finding inspiration in 2017

Coming off the worst Christmas season to date with nearly a 30% drop in revenue on Etsy followed by endless wayward Pacific storms taking the scenic route through Cave Creek, AZ with uninterrupted drenching rains, January 2017 ushered in a period of zero inspiration and low grade depression, where the point of our business endeavours became awash in a mixed cocktail of anger, frustration, and extreme disappointment. The trouble mounted when our first show of 2017 sent us home short of making show rent, a bit wet, and chilled right to the bone.

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A January Day in 2017

The stigma of depression is perfectly captured in that Abilify commercial, where the middle aged lady is couch bound and locked in a white room of self pity, while sorrow strangles her pale, yet the reality of many mood disorders are highly functional individuals are chained to a routine that has grown stale and uninspiring with only nostalgia as a life-raft. By no means am I trying to trivialize the suffering of those with major depressive disorders, rather simply address the lesser form that drives us through mechanized motions without engaging those all important mesolimbic pathways to release a healthy dose of dopamine. Eventually devoid of reward, these sort of routines lead people into the trap of mindless repetition. Reckless consumerism aka the shopping spree or a night of drinking offers a cheap thrill for the moment, but you will always end up right back at the starting line.

In the days following the presidential inauguration, those of us who have long since abandon any reasonable hope for progress under the two party system and wish to see nothing more than an outright validation of individualism, self responsibility, and self determination, while embracing collectivism as a movement to advance science and technology for the greater good, found ourselves marginalized in a tug of war between a divide in political convictions and conventions that was light years removed from comprehension. Amidst the uproar and ranting and raving in social media, identifying yourself as human instead of Republican or Democratic was suddenly a crime of the first degree.

If there ever was a time to “turn on, tune in, and drop out,” Jan 23rd, 2017 would certainly rank top on my list and became the accidental start of a new found journey into reviving the energy to ignite a creative spark. Those first few mountain bike rides of the season were rather uninspiring under grey skies, but soon a bit of that long lost adventurous spirit began igniting the curiosity to try taking a left at the fork instead of right. Swelling arroyos from the melting mountain snows brought a sudden burst of green to the brown mix of sand and rock. Most remarkable though is how forcing those 2-3 rides per week to preserve fitness which was once the bane of my week, suddenly transformed into a wonderland of almost daily inspiration.

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Water in the Desert

 

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Dry creek bed turned “Alph the sacred river”

 

Greeting the blue skies and sun, meant meeting the day at the crossroads to embrace a profound appreciation of landscapes, scenes, and places no longer stylized in a flattened dimensionless day of endless Etsy forums or CNN headlines. The difference between my outlook before this adventure and today is a matter of seeing beyond the current stagnation to realize new opportunities are indeed undiscovered, yet without openly embracing today and future days, those opportunities will almost certainly remain elusive. 

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Flowers after the rains

As always though, the hardest part is the first mile. With new ideas in the works and Etsy sinking below the waterline, I hope this blog post mirrors that first ride of the 2017 season for sparking creativity and adventures in NiciArt

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Sunset in the Desert