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Chasing Down The Muse: We are what we choose to be

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

Robert Frost


Whether divergent roads, a job, exercise, healthy eating, what clothes to wear, helping a friend … each day we choose. And choose. And choose.

Life is full of the choices we make — both large and small— and their consequences. Sometimes we can see where the choices will lead; other times, it is difficult even to make an educated guess as to the result.

Still, choose we must. Even to not choose is in itself a choice.

For some, it seems that making choices creates stress. But should it?

Well, I guess that stressing, too, would be a choice, wouldn't it? One of the choices we always have is our attitude. Circumstances present themselves and we can choose how to respond, whether with stress or with ease.

Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Just choose ease, right? Would that this were so. We all do our best, but it is not always to be. Still, we can try.

I often wonder about the role that creativity plays in our choices and in our lives.

Recently, I watched at one of the Sunday Studio Workshops held at my house as students made their individual creative choices. As the mixed-media pieces were created there were many options along the way. It occurred to me that possibly the ease with which these choices were handled was a mirror image of the ease of all the choices each person made.

Overall, it seemed that these creative folks were more adept at letting go of outcome, and simply choosing. There was a little bit of agonizing, but for the most part choices were made apace.

Nothing life or death about these choices, though. Could the ability to choose creatively cross over to every day life? I would hope so, but that there exists the ability to do so might be wishful thinking on my part.

There are ways to cast the weight toward ease, though, in everything that we do.

Self-awareness is a first step.

Creative imagination helps.

Acting both consciously and with conscience are essential ingredients.

The knowledge that, in fact, we are creatures with free will is a key as well.

Ease seems to come from keeping all of this in mind and then creating your life, much as the painter paints a picture or the sculptor shapes stone.

We learn through some trial and error, of course, but over time conscious choices using the above principles can bring us to a life we can enjoy each and every day.

Choosing supportive people to surround you.

Choosing a healthy lifestyle, even when it may be difficult to do so.

Choosing to see the gifts hidden in what might at first appear to be a negative circumstance.

Choose. Choose. Choose.

All of these play a part in the end result of a life.

That wise and gracious woman, Eleanor Roosevelt, perhaps said it best, "In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility."

So true.

Whatever you choose, your life will be made up of those myriad choices. Choose to be happy and the likelihood is that you will be so.

Create your life and, as with art, don't be too invested in the outcome before you get there, and it will most likely be pleasing. Allow for the mystery to reveal itself. Therein lies the power.

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist and manager of the Sawdust Studio Art Classes in Laguna Beach. She can be reached at or by phone at (714) 745-9973.

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