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Theresa Berenato

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Use Your Hands, Look at Art, Obsess Over the Ordinary

Posted: 06/25/2012 8:10 am

The stress and strains of our always-connected lives can sometimes take us off course. GPS For The Soul can help you find your way back to balance.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what works for others in the hopes that you can find out what works for yourself. Whether it's photos that relax you or make you smile, songs that bring you back to your heart, quotes or poems that balance you or meditative exercises that help de-stress you, we all have tricks that we use when we get bent out of shape. We encourage you to look at the GPS Guide below, visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and harmony.

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  • 1. Meet Maira Kalman, Illustrator and Author, and Your New Best Friend.

    Kalman's seemingly <a href=" " target="_hplink">innocent illustrations</a> illuminate humanity in light of life's overwhelming events. She goes on and on about the magnificent chairs she has seen, United Airline pickle tags, candy-striped water towers, and sidewalk stores with buckets and shoes on the floor, and then, in the same breath, discusses Thomas Jefferson, ancient Mesopotamia, Michael Pollan and the woman with perfectly red eyebrows guarding the paintings at the National Gallery. Getting lost in her whimsical visual narratives certainly lifts my mood. <em>Illustration by Theresa Berenato</em>

  • 2. Use Your Hands

    We have been making and marking for 35,000 years. As a designer, <a href="" target="_hplink">using my hands</a> to make, cut, rearrange, overlay, glue, paint, chip, draw, and sketch is a personally fulfilling process. I would be lost without email or the efficiency of the tools in the Adobe Suite, but I also feel alarmed about the connections we are missing -- the imperfections we are not appreciating -- when computers know how to get us right to the marks we seek. Designer Paul Rand says, "It is important to use your hands, that is what distinguishes you from a cow or a computer operator." This includes sweeping, cooking, vacuuming, washing dishes, writing a letter, rearranging furniture. <em>Quote by designer Paul Rand</em>

  • 3. Look at ART

    Matisse repeatedly said that he wanted to make paintings so serenely beautiful that when one came upon them, suddenly, all problems would subside. One winter, author <a href="" target="_hplink">Elaine Scarry</a>'s garden view was banished by the season's snow. As an antidote to the blistering weather, she hung thirteen Matisse prints, covering the windows overlooking her buried garden. Print out an image of the work of your favorite artist. Learn about <a href="" target="_hplink">new ones.</a> <em>Art by Matisse</em>

  • 4. Obsess Over the Ordinary

    Despite the fact that he spent the last 14 years of his life under the covers of a narrow bed writing an unusually long novel, Proust obsessed over the ordinary. <a href="" target="_hplink">According to Proust</a>, beauty is something to be found, rather than passively encountered. Pick up on certain details: Identify the shape of clouds, the pattern of a seashell, or the simplicity of a glass bottle. For me, inspiration manifests in the most ordinary places: dinner plates and matchbooks and foxed photographs. <a href="" target="_hplink">Instagram</a> is the tool I use to help capture these ordinary moments. <em>Vintage cookbook page</em>

  • 5. Repeat a Personal Mantra

    "Focus." "Let go." "Breathe." Many years of practicing yoga have instilled a belief that by repeating a phrase over and over silently in my mind positively affects my stress level and outlook. Repeating your personalized phrase -- while deeply breathing -- in the shower, on a quick walk around the block, or for 30 seconds at your desk can be amazingly refreshing. <em>Original screenprints by Theresa Berenato a.) n'allez pas trop vite (don't go too quickly) b.) PAUSE</em>

For more by Theresa Berenato, click here.

For more on mindful living, click here.