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Paintings by Raphael

Like many of the artists and writers of his day, French writer and playwright Honoré Balzac was a square peg trying to fit into a around hole. Growing up, he was frequently disciplined at school for acting out and not toeing the line and had the occasional suicide attempt thrown in for added measure. Balzac was persuaded to study law but he snubbed his nose at it after three years and announced to his family he was going to be writer and moved to Paris.

Balzac lived a penniless existence as he worked on his craft and lived in squalid conditions. Whether it was an effort to cheer himself up provide motivation to work harder, Balzac sketched a large, blank picture frame on the walls of his room and labeled it Paintings by Raphael. The image of him working in a seedy little apartment with a blank picture frame got me thinking: How many of us have been motivated by the idea of a Raphael painting or its equivalent on our walls to keep us working?

I have a few pieces of art on my office walls for motivation including an image of Felix Baumgartner jumping out of his space capsule, but I don’t have any sort of dangling carrot offering me hope and encouragement. I have no images of me accepting a Pulitzer Prize or a picture of Munich or Paris for when I strike it rich (or save up enough money to go). All I have are anti-motivators telling me to Go! Do! Go! Do! Stop sitting there! Go! Do!

No wonder it’s so hard for me to get motivated in the morning. Perhaps these “motivators” need to be replaced with softer images of my favorite writers and even a dream board to represent my goals for the month. Now I’m as cynical as they come and realize that just wishing for something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, but having visual cues as motivators is a lot easier than trying to force myself to be creative.

This idea continued play out through the week and especially when I listened to A Closer Look Radio. Pam interviewed internationally acclaimed author Marianne Williamson about her new book The Law of Divine Compensation. During the interview Marianne talked about adjusting our “mental files” and creating unlimited thinking in our daily lives. What she meant by that is we need to stop holding ourselves back and start imagining what are capable of doing. We need more blank frames reserved for our Pulitzer prizes and Raphael and Monet paintings. We need more blank frames filled with pictures of Paris or Munich or even India. By doing this we open ourselves up for possibility and shut out all those voices telling us we are just no good.

So, I’m going to take this hint from the Universe and work on making my workspace a little more inspiring and a little less demanding. I just got a gift card for Home Depot so I’m thinking a new paint job is in order. What about you? What does your own blank frame have in it? What motivators can you replace in your life?


In other creative news, I wanted to let all three of my loyal readers now I am a featured writer at Where the Spirited Women Gather. You can read my first post here.



About Anna Alexander

I get ideas. I write things. I sometimes follow through with those ideas. I also run long distances and live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband cat who lets us pay the mortgage on his house.

One response »

  1. lol! One of the three loyal readers checking in! 😉 I’d caught your news about the other site’s posting originally on FB and never got back to chime in – NICE WORK!! Really – well written. The language was very descriptive and visual, excellent word choices. And I LOVED your take on the concept of the article premise! I wasn’t sure going into it, but very glad I stuck around to read it. Wonderful application of the idea into real meaning for you/others. Huzzah!


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