Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Graduating From Feedback: A Confession by Amy Palko

Peering Statue
Photo by Amy Palko

Ok, here's my confession. I'm kind of 'done' with feedback. Let me explain...

After wading my way through academia for years, I have encountered both good feedback and bad (read soul-crushing) feedback).

My doctoral supervisor was a master at feedback. I used to leave his office after a meeting in relatively good spirits. It would only be 3 days later that it would finally sink in that I had to do a total rewrite, restructure, rethink of my 12000 word chapter. His feedback on my work was always incisive and yet delivered as though it were wrapped in velvet. Never cutting, always kind - I couldn't have achieved my phd without him.

The worst feedback I ever received was on a journal article I'd submitted to an academic publication. In academia, all articles are blind peer reviewed, so two or more reviewers are sent your article and they give detailed feedback to the editor on whether it should be published, and whether any issues need to be addressed prior to publication.

My article was returned to me with both reports attached. One said it was a wonderful, articulate article, well thought out, well structured and well written. They recommended no changes and immediate publication.

The other review was not so favourable.

It seems, according to this anonymous academic, that my article embodied everything they liked least about theoretical prose. They were cruel, sarcastic and when I got to the end of the report - the part where they announced to the editor that they believed that English probably wasn't my first language and a professional editorial overhaul would be needed to make my work fitting for publication - I felt physically sick.

That report taught me some really important, painful lessons…
  1. Anonymity can be a license for cruelty.
  2. The memory of negative feedback sticks around a whole lot longer than positive.
  3. That when delivering feedback, it is always important that you add in a healthy scoop of compassion - especially when it's negative.
Needless to say, perhaps, but the positive balanced out the negative, and the article was published. I could never read it through again though without the words of the second review echoing in my heart, tormenting my bruised ego.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that it took years to claw back any kind of confidence whatsoever in my writing ability. And only now can I present my words to another with the giddy heart of one who is genuinely in love with the work they've just produced.

Since that day, I have had to give a *lot* of feedback on people's writing. I've acted as a reviewer for a number of academic publications, and I have marked more academic essays in my role as university teacher than I could possibly count. For each poorly structured, badly written essay or article, I pointed out the good as well as the bad, and gave clear ways to remedy the situation.

But, like I said at the top of this post, I'm done with feedback. Apart from a very short stint of 4 weeks next summer, I'll no longer be working in a university. Now, I'm free to create, to write, to be any way I choose. The feedback I received as a student and as an academic helped me successfully jump through hoops whose circumference and height had been decreed by others. I don't have to perform for them any more. And I don't need to coax others into conforming to this standard either.

Nowadays, the most important person to give feedback on my writing, my art, my presence, is me.

This isn't to say that I don't care what others think - not in the slightest! But it does mean that I'm no longer willing to shape and colour my expression in the world according to the preferences of another.

I've finally learned to trust my voice. And I'm giving hoops the heave-ho!

A true lover of stories, Amy Palko spends her days reading, writing, knitting and dreaming… well, that is when she's not being kept busy home-educating her three kids! She is the creatrix behind Virgins & Lovers: Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Goddess, a more-than-just-an-e-book to support your exploration of the goddess myths through story, journalling, visualisation and creative exercise, the knitter of soulskins, and the provider of Goddess Guidance.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Delicate Dance of Authenticity by Susan Cadley

"People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway." St. Teresa
If you've ever shared your hopes and dreams with someone and met with naysaying negativity or if you've left a conversation feeling bullied or diminished...take heart dear fellow soul traveler. There's a way to navigate this journey by taking most excellent care of yourself and remaining kind and authentic and true to your soul. It's not an either or situation - it's both.

When our boundaries are too open, we may give too much and then feel depleted, forget to edit what we say, or swallow our anger/hurt, all detrimental to ourselves and others. On the other end of the spectrum, when we are overly protective of shining our souls, we may turn down the dimmer and hide our talents, feelings, ideas from others. This can result in unlived dreams and feelings of depression or apathy. So how do we find the balance here? It's a delicate dance.

Vulnerability and strength hold hands and when they dance together; you are able to express who you are and take care of yourself at the same time. We all have a built-in "inner protector", and if you let her/him rise up to the occasion, you may be surprised at how empowered you will feel. Healthy communication is about speaking your truth from an "I" perspective, naming what you are experiencing, and then making a request if you need to. Hopefully you wouldn't allow a child to be bullied if you witnessed it - you'd step in to help. The same is true for your tender dreams and authentic self. Be you and stand up for yourself if you need to.

I'm choosing to be kind and open-hearted with healthy communication boundaries no matter what people show up with. How about you?

Here's the rest of St. Teresa poem;

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies. 
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Be good anyway.
Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People need help but will attack you if you help them.
Help them anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Susan is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Soul Coach and sole proprietor of Living From Within, LLC. Through counseling, coaching, creative workshops, book studies, and writing, Susan guides you to hear and live the messages of your soul.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Your Dreams are So Important by Andrea Schroeder

With a paintbrush in one hand & a glitter-gun in the other, Andrea lovingly mentors men & women who want to lead creatively abundant lives — and do ‘impossible’ things, with ease & joy. Express the greatest parts of who YOU are, at www.CreativeMagicAcademy.com.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Follow Your Bliss by Ginny Lennox

  "Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before."
Joseph Campbell (Chapter 12 The Artist's Way)

Yesterday my husband and I went searching for places to take pictures.  We decided to walk through an antique store that we had been in many times before.  It was beautifully decorated with twinkling lights and many kinds of brightly shining objects.  But as we turned the corner there was an opening that I had never noticed before.  It was like walking through a magical door that led to quiet and solitude.  It was large and fairly dark but there was something special about it.  There was a calm and peacefulness to this space that the front of the store did not possess.  I am sure we will walk through that door many times again.  Possibly to hang one of my paintings or pictures on the wall.  Maybe as I follow my bliss that door will open many new opportunities and adventures for me.  Only time will tell.

What door would you like to open this week?

Ginny believes that each and every day is filled with special moments to be enjoyed and treasured.  On her blog, Special Moments in Time, she encourages everyone to recognize and celebrate their own special moments each day.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Feedback: What's helpful at different stages of a creative project? by Kelly Besecke

Valuable feedback

For me, valuable feedback comes from people who are totally on board with what I want to do and just want to help me do it. This is the kind of feedback I try to give to other writers. I think of myself as on the writer's side--their ally--and my goal is to figure out what they're trying to do and help them do it.

The contrast--feedback that isn't that helpful to me--comes from people who position themselves as challengers. Sometimes, challengers might question the value of the project or disagree with the way I'm thinking about it. Other times, their feedback might be along the lines of "Why don't you do what I want you to do, or what I find valuable, or what I would do if it was my project, or what I'm used to seeing from other writers?"

When I'm working on a creative project, I'm interested in developing it, not altering it to be something different. Just like a person--human beings are better off when you support them as they more fully become their own unique, amazing selves.

Feedback at the beginning of a project

In the beginning stages of a creative project, I'm very very selective about who I seek feedback from. A new original project is like a little sprout making its way up from the ground, powerful with potential, but vulnerable. It needs warmth and care and time to grow solid and strong. In the early stages, the only feedback that's helpful to me is "What a cool idea; here are some possible resources for you."

At the beginning, a project is really between me and me. There's something I'm trying to figure out and develop within my own mind and spirit. My engagement with the outside world is all about exploration--taking things in that help me learn. The feedback that matters is internal: What's speaking to me? What feels promising? What's drawing my attention? What do I see in the outside world that resonates with what I'm trying to figure out?

Feedback at the end of a project

The moment I'm in right now is the end stage of a project. I have a book that I started long ago, and I'm fortunate to have a publisher for it; now my job is to finish writing and revising it for publication.

At this stage, I know what I want to say, my ideas are solid and well-formed, and the project is fully fleshed out. I've learned what I wanted to learn, I know what I think, and I'm confident about it. Now, the project is to communicate what I've learned and what I think to other people.

At this stage, feedback feels like collaboration. I've been honing this project mostly on my own, and now other people are invested in it. My editor, and the press he represents, have years of experience and expertise in helping books reach readers--helping people communicate. So when he tells me, "I think you should make x, y, and z changes," a little voice inside me says, "I don't want to. It's my project, and I like it as it is." But a stronger voice now says, "I want to communicate. I want to reach my audience. And this person has ideas about how I can do that effectively. Excellent!"

Communication isn't the same as self-expression. Communication is about reaching people, and it's cooperative. The image in my head is an equation: feedback = audience. My editor is representing a particular audience, a particular set of people who we both hope will buy and read my book. To communicate with my readers, I have to think about where they're at, and how I can share my ideas with them in a way that they will find compelling.

I still hold on to the core of my vision. It's almost impossible not to at this point, because the book has grown up into something solid--it has its own reality now. But it's solid enough now to interact with the outside world, and that means conversation and relationship. Now, feedback means that I'm connecting, I'm communicating, I'm reaching other people. And in the end (but maybe only in the end) that's what I want my creative work to do.

Kelly Besecke writes about spiritual meaning, progressive religion, and authentic living. Her first book, You Can't Put God in a Box: A Thoughtful Spirituality for a Rational Age, will be out in 2013. Kelly is a dreamer, a thinker, and an incurable idealist who loves singer-songwriter music, impressionism, and every dog she's ever met.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Take a Look by Aimee Cavenecia

When I say take another look, I mean take a bigger look. I'm talking about big picture thinking. Other terms for big picture thinking are: holistic thinking; expanded perspective; macro perspective; perception-enhancement; & global vision. What I am suggesting is to raise above your current level of seeing (a situation). Raise above it & see what the view looks like from higher up. You might find that it suits you much better.

If seeing is believing, that means you take what you see to be the truth. Why believe something that isn't working for you? I'm sure we have all said, or all heard the following views: I'm broke; this is just the way I am (or she is, or he is, or they are); life is meaningless; they don't care about me (or us); it shouldn't be like this (or they shouldn't be like that); this is so hard; it's impossible. Understand that there is always another view. Not only the view from another person (or animal, or insect). But an even broader view. Think aerial view. Think universal view! It's that kind of view that helps me the most. That gives me the most advantage, the most freedom & the most power.

Think of something very personal that happened to you. Hold it in your mind. It's hard to see it clearly because you are so close to it. You totally identify with it & you feel so close to every detail that it's hard to see it clearly. It's like holding a piece of paper up to your face. Imagine that paper being close, so close it's only one inch away from your eyes! What do you see? Maybe only a few letters, or maybe some blurry words that you could take a guess at. Now pull that paper away from you so that you can read the whole sheet in context, fully, & clearly. You needed some distance in order to see, right?

What about something that happened to you years ago, something traumatic? Does it feel the same now as it did then? Think of something that happened 10 - 20 years ago that made you upset. Or think of a lover you had in your life. Think of how upset you were when the relationship was over. Now take your mind to the present. How does what happened years ago make you feel now? Did the distance help to get some clarity, some ease, or greater awareness? This is the freedom that big picture thinking can give us in the moment -- in the present, while it's happening!

Even if you can't see the big picture. Even if you don't know why something is happening to you, don't worry. Just know that there is a bigger picture that only has your best interest at heart. Just the thought alone will revolutionize your life.

[The blog text is an except from my new ebook, Revolutionary Being. It will be released in the spring of 2012.] [The script image is of a brilliant quote by Mary Anne Radmacher.]

 Aimee Cavenecia (also known as AimeeLovesYou) has an extensive background as a professional artist. Her current work is becoming an expert in Seeing, Loving, and Being (SLB). Aimee has dedicated the rest of her life to studying this field and sharing her insights on the topic.

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Heart Door by Angel Young

Feedback ... so easy to give and yet so hard to take! Why do we take it so personally (or if it’s good, not personally at all? And as a super sensitive person (isn’t that so much better than over sensitive!) there’s an extra dimension to that. Those little glimmers of other people’s emotion that we sense, and take into ourselves - even though they might only be a passing thought - for us it sticks a bit firmer in our hearts than we would like. It makes me think of those feedback screams from the Glastonbury festival - a bit harsh on the ears! The kind of feedback I personally get is like that too. A bit harsh - a bit too sharp - a fairy tale heart with a thousand shards in it. It takes sooo long to unpick those moments.

So how do we respond to this? How can you take those shards of glass out again? (preferably easily!)

I guess first we have to look at why they are there - what part of us lets them in. That comes from a deep sense of self worth - so easy to write! I find this can come from our creative practice - that sense of being in tune - and also loving the work we do - even if we have to do other work to allow it to blossom. I can get to that space by following the exploration, and allowing it to develop fully in the moment. Then there is only the art / healing / voice etc and no space for anything else. So in the moment, there’s a kind of perfection - isn’t that beautiful?! - we’re in tune with the universe, doing exactly what it wants us to be doing - openly, and open-heartedly.

Being open-hearted is a gift - it’s about trust. And I think feedback is about trust too. After all it’s very rarely about hurting someone. Those other people are just trying to help - or maybe we are, unhelpfully sometimes, it true - but mostly the motivation is good. And if the motivation is good we can separate it from any barb we might be feeling.

Good advice, well we can absorb it into our practice - or test out the idea of it. If we don’t feel it - well that’s ok too! Thanks for the advice, but cheerio - no shard in the heart here! We can only feel the barb if we’ve got a hard outer shell around our heart for it to catch in. Lose the defenses - take the comment open heartedly - then there’s nothing for the hook to pull on. Equally if it’s a complement, we can absorb the full warmth of it - how wonderful is that!

And if we have a hard time doing this, there are tools - meditation to allow us to open up, and know our feelings fully, Rescue Remedy for those overwhelming moments, circles for sharing our truthful experience of the world (such as this blog) or elsewhere in women’s or men’s circles, and other healing for those hard to reach places. And I’m really excited that all these tools are out there now. We can really allow our true selves to surface. So this practice of accepting feedback, it’s really another step on the path of accepting ourself. And that really is a gift.

Angel lives in the UK and is having fun bringing more of the things she loves into her life.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Celebrating the Intangible by Helen Yee

I just finished knitting a sweater for my boyfriend, and it gives me as much joy as it gives him. Each time he wears it I get to savor the feeling of achievement. It's the largest knitting project I've taken on so far: my first sweater, my first cable project, my first 2-way separating zipper. You can see more pictures of the sweater on my ravelry page.

And as I take time at the end of the year, looking back at the highlights, I notice that except for these end-of-year reviews I lose a lot of that delicious feeling of being done with something and gazing proudly at it. It's so different from my experience of knitting things and seeing them being worn. You see, as a performing artist, the work I do gets lost in time. There's all the work done in preparation, and I love that sense of anticipation and focused effort, but when the performance is over and the glow fades, so too does the memory of having done it. I'm off and rushing off to the next thing. Does this happen to you? Especially with creative endeavors where there is no physical "evidence"?

I don't often spend moments looking back at my achievements or celebrating them, and now I'm wondering if I can make the other creative processes more like knitting. In knitting, I get to see a piece gradually growing as I progress. So how could I apply this to learning a new piece of music, or trying to build a new technique on the violin? In knitting, I get to enjoy over and over again the feeling of "Yeah, I did that!" when I see a piece being worn. Could I maybe lengthen the afterglow by creating something tangible and visible to mark a performance or an achievement that would otherwise be lost to memory and time? Contemplation and journaling are great ways to put these on paper, but for me those pages also get lost in the shuffle. How can we enjoy more regularly what we "knit" into our creative lives?

Helen Yee is an improvising violinist, multi-instrumentalist and composer. Currently violinist for the eclectic string trio, Trio Tritticali she also performs on yangqin with Music From China. She considers the practice of improvisation in all its forms a profound teacher in art and in life.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Stepping in to Circe's Circle

(The calls referred to are from previous years but the video introduces you to what Circe's Circle is all about.

The amazing dreamers who make up Creative Dream Journals are all alumnae of a powerful small coaching program called Circe's Circle: Your Creative Dream Team. Led by creative living coach Jamie Ridler, this program is designed to help you bring a project to life in an inspiring environment, adding powerful tools to your dreamer's resource kit and growing your awareness of and confidence in your own unique magnificence. This program is only offered a few times a year and is limited to 7 dreamers per session. The winter session starts at the end of January and enrollment is open now.

Circe's Circle...

  • is an intimate 10-week coaching telecircle that provides a supportive and encouraging environment that nurtures your dreams by helping you bring a creative project to life
  • provides a powerful structure for moving you forward towards your creative dreams
  • is rich with discussion, insight, brainstorming, visualization, creative exercises, laughter and connecting
  • is limited to 7 participants so everyone gets a chance to share and to receive support and encouragement weekly
  • takes place over the phone, so you can participate from anywhere in the world
  • is magic

"It's really one of the best things I've ever done for myself and my creativity." Monica.

Circe’s Circle is ideal for people who...

  • are ready to stir up their creative juices and get into action
  • want to start or make fresh progress on a creative project that is close to their heart. Whether it's a blog, a book or a business, Circe's Circle is the ideal place to make progress on your creative dream.
  • are aching for regularly scheduled time for themselves
  • haven't a clue what their creative project is but know they want one
  • are tired of going it alone
  • want to connect with a community of independent, creative dreamers and believers
  • You!

"Circe's Circle is what inspired me to embrace my inner foodie and I think saved my sanity! I can not recommend it highly enough for people who are serious about making big dreams come true. Is it time to change your life forever?" Suzie the Foodie

Each & every call, you will...

  • Activate your connection with your self, your project and a group of creative, loving, supportive women.
  • Have dedicated time for your dreams. Your project gets personal attention every single time.
  • Receive personal creative coaching from me. If you've been in other programs, you know how rare this is. In Circe's Circle you have my personal attention every single week.
  • Gain tools and strategies that will guide you in creating the next project and the next and the next, skills that will last you a lifetime.
  • Benefit from the collective wisdom of the group. Everyone has the opportunity to share thoughts, ideas, inspirations and suggestions, when welcomed.
  • Share the journey so you learn not only from your own experience and the content of the program but also through hearing from other creatives, the strategies they're using, the learning they're applying, the things that have worked for them and the things that they're leaving behind. This will move you forward exponentially!

Call 1: Connection & Clarity

  • During our first call we will focus on getting to know ourselves, one another and each project in the circle. In the Circe's Circle viewfinder, you will discover more about your project than you've ever known before.

Call 2: Casting

  • We'll cast forward into the future, connecting your project to your big dreams and invoking the magic of visioning.

Call 3: Touchstones (part 1)

  • We will name and identify key touchstones that have personal meaning to you, powerful tools for affirming you are on the right path and moving towards your dreams.

Call 4: Touchstones (part 2)

  • We will spend more time with these guiding principles so you feel deeply grounded and connected to what you most value on this journey.

Call 5: Self-Nourishment

  • As creative people, we build our dreams from our very selves. Learning to nourish ourselves is a crucial step in bringing our dreams to life.

Call 6: Course Check

  • At the midway mark, we stop and take note of all that has been accomplished thus far, make any course corrections that need to be made and set our sites on what we'll be celebrating at the end of the circle.

Call 7: Body Wisdom

  • Our body is one of our greatest resources. We'll learn how to connect to the body's wisdom and ask for its guidance in moving forward with our project.

Call 8: Your Magnificent Self (part 1)

  • A magical thing happens as you bring your project to life, who you are as a creator starts to become clearer. We'll discover what makes you uniquely, magnificently you.

Call 9: Your Magnificent Self (part 2)

  • Confidence comes from knowing, believing in and acting upon your authentic self. We'll continue to discover, draw on and develop your connection to the truth and beauty of your magnificent self.

Call 10: Celebration

  • Celebration is just the right way to open the circle! We will acknowledge all that you've learned, all you've created, how far you've come and what's next. You'll leave the circle with a toolkit full of dream strategies ready to take on all the amazing ideas, opportunities and projects that are sure to unfold!

As well...

  • The circle will have its own Facebook Group where you can connect and share throughout the week. You'll be able to ask questions, share celebrations, struggles, ideas. It's a beautiful home base for you and your dreams.

Circe's Circle is certified organic...

  • By that I mean that the content grows out of the organic soil of each circle. At my discretion one or some of these topics may be swapped out to make room for other topics that are deeply relevant to the group.

"Circe’s Circle has been a tremendous jumpstart in turning my artistic dreams into a reality." Jessie Marianiello

Are you ready to make your dreams come true?

Download Circe's Circle Enrollment Package

Success Stories...

Circe's Circle members have created the most amazing magic in the world! Some of the projects that have come to life are: workshops,e-courses, businesses, blogs, paintings, websites, membership sites, written pieces, increased confidence, increased clarity, increased creativity, a sense of direction, a sense of possibility, magic.

  • Mo Clancy: "It felt as if I were in a box before, with no windows and doors. Since joining Circe’s Circle, I now have a door and through it is fun, play, colors, shapes, excitement and opportunities."(more...)
  • Andrea Schroeder: "Circe’s Circle felt like a nurturing cocoon for my dream. Knowing that I had that kind of support and encouragement helped me face the many fears that came up along the way. It also kept me on track and moving forward." (more...)
  • Jessie Marianiello: “When I first signed up for Circe’s Circle, I had no idea that I would end up starting a full-fledged business! During the time of Circe’s Circle, Stray Dog Arts was born!” (more...)
  • Helen Yee: "I learned that claiming my own magnificence can be powerful and inspiring to others, while hiding my light stifles the possibility of offering more positive energy and gifts to the world" Helen Yee (more...)
  • Amy Palko: "[Circe's Circle] helped me to take each of the strands of my identity and weave them into a beautiful fabric that I feel proud to share with the world." (more...)
  • Nolwenn Petitbois: "I have the confirmation that I shouldn’t be afraid to shine from this bright colourful light I know is inside of me. And that this is this light that guides my hands when I paint and create something to release to the World." (more...)
  • Suzie the Foodie: “I came to Circe’s Circle broken and uninspired. A year later I now am one of The Food Network’s online writers and photographers for their blog.” (more...)
  • Tammy Durham: “To my surprise, my goals are now happening!” (more...)
  • Susan Cadley: "Being a part of each Circe’s Circle’s sisters journey, witnessing their growth and expansion, inspired me to create and step out of my comfort zone even more." (more...)
  • Aimee Cavenecia: "[Circe's Circle] helped me to embrace my sense of self. I struggled with it in the past, &; in struggling with it, I found it hard to keep my creative ventures on track." (more...)
  • Your Name Here: What will you be saying?

"I’m optimistic about moving forward, making more art and creating the life I’ve dreamed of. Circe’s Circle has given me a huge boost in self-confidence. It has already helped me create more powerfully and I just feel in my bones that I’m more prepared for any new opportunities and challenges in my journey." Helen Yee

Registration is Now Open. 

Dates: Winter 2011: January 30, Feb 6, 13, 20, 27, March 5, 12, 19, 26, April 2
Day: Mondays
Time: 2:00-4:00 pm EST
Place: Connect from wherever you are to the teleconference. We use an American bridgeline, so if you have a US plan, you're covered. Many people do use Skype to call in and save the long-distance charge.
Investment: $600 for the series plus your long-distance charges. You can pay in installments of $200/month.
Size: This group is limited to 7 participants. Is one spot for you?

Ready to Step In?


To Register: Download Circe's Circle Enrollment Package,
fill it in and email your package to Jamie.

The magic begins immediately. You'll find that even filling out the form will bring further clarity to your dreams.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to email Jamie.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Motivation by Glenda Myles

People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.” Zig Ziglar

What motivates you to great heights?

Motivation is the psychological feature that arouses a person to action toward a desired goal or the reason for the action.

So, what’s your daily motivational ritual?

Do you have a visual reminder of your goal around your house and office? Have you made changes in your life to support this new goal? Have you talked to your friends and family about it so they can support you? Do you have the partners you need to be successful? You have to first have the elements of success. You then have to remind yourself of your goal daily or weekly to keep it top of mind. The goal has to be intrinsically linked to something important to you. And you have to keep positive about it as there will be times when fear, anger, and other negative emotions will try to take over.

Do your rituals change when you are riding the creative high to the dragging your behind low?

It’s easy to stay motivated when you are pumped up and things are going well – think first two weeks of January at the gym. It’s packed because everyone has made New Year’s resolutions and are still motivated by the resolution itself to keep going. But those that go to the gym regularly know, by mid to late January it starts to peter out and by February it’s back to normal. You do have a few new faces who have stuck it out though. They have managed the highs and lows and have remained committed.

What is it that keeps those few people motivated long enough to make a new habit with the behaviour?

It’s always a WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) state of mind. You won’t be truly successful if your motivation isn’t about what’s in it for you not someone else. Remind yourself of the why. Why are you doing this? What will it do for you personally or professionally? Why is that important to you?

Besides commitment to the goal, those that are successful are motivated intrinsically or extrinsically by other factors. Most would say that extrinsic factors are the easiest but not always long lasting. If I … go to the gym, lose weight, insert goal here – I can get a … new outfit, indulgence, trip, insert reward here.

This is a great idea for those times when you are just dragging and don’t want to do something, but you know you will feel better if you do it. It won’t necessarily help maintain long term motivation if you haven’t made other changes intrinsically, but it can help you out in certain situations.

Consider that it takes:

  • 40 days to change a bad habit into a positive one;
  • 90 days confirms the new habit in you;
  • 120 days allows the new habit to become who you are;
  • 1,000 days ensures you have mastered the habit

Ideas for visual reminders:

Big calendar with the X’s through the days to show how far you have come while keeping an eye on the ‘deadline’. This is good when there is a deadline. If you don’t have one you can create one. Take the 90 days as a deadline.

Make sure to put time in your schedule for the activity and protect it. Learn to say no. You don’t need to explain yourself, feel guilty, or anything else you feel compelled to do. If this is a major goal in your life, carve out the time and protect that time like nothing else. Make sure you find a time that works with your schedule. If you get really busy at work and end up working late a lot – go in the morning. Get up 30 minutes earlier than normal and do what you need to do – exercise, write, read, paint, etc.
I started to get up at 5:30 am to run a few mornings a week. It was fine in the fall and I was making a regular habit out of it, but then winter arrived and my motivation dropped. It has been hard since it is cold and dark out. I had to find new ways to keep myself motivated. I have a sign on my clock so when I roll over to turn the alarm off I see it. It reminds me to get my butt out of bed and go running.
Have your visual cards/index cards near where you get up in the morning so it is the first thing you see. On the cards have not only your goal but a visual representation of what it will be like when you reach that goal.

What other visual reminders could you create that will help you stay motivated?

Glenda at Myles Ahead Studio is a professional marketing strategist working to bring more creativity into business and make more ideas come to life.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Just Be It by Polly Washburn

I love making lists. And I love clean slates like a new year where I can make big lists of all the things I’m going to do and what I want to have come into my life.

Many self-discovery books and websites encourage us to write out lists of things we want to do, places we want to visit and things to attract into our lives. And I’ve enjoyed making those lists over the years. What my perfect house would look like, and all the beautiful furniture that would fill it. All the exciting hobbies -- hang gliding, flight school, white river rafting -- to fill my time. Countries on every continent to fill my passport. All the professional and creative goals to fill my resume.

And I have done much of what I put on these lists: I produced a feature film; I made it to Paris and Australia and New Zealand; I took kayaking lessons.

But I’ve noticed a shift in myself over the last few years. The prospect of always being on the go, always having to do more and achieve more and have more doesn’t feel exciting so much as… exhausting. And stressful. So last year, when I envisioned my perfect living space, I saw a wide-open room with white walls and a white carpet. And nothing in it.

I thought about how to get to that space. I made the decision to change jobs, move from one city to another, and give away almost everything I owned. It took weeks of sorting and clearing, but I got my worldly possessions down to a single car load. It felt so liberating! It turned out, emptying my life of Stuff gave me more energy than being surrounded by more and more. It turned out what I wanted more than any goal or object, was to simply be less stressed.

My new apartment is indeed rooms of white walls and white carpet. People tried to offer me furniture to fill up my space, but I declined. I have one piece of furniture per room: a papasan chair, a bed, and a stool. So far, none of my visitors has complained about hanging out on the floor when they visit!

And it feels wonderful. It means I have plenty of room to do yoga, to have empty space around my head and body when I meditate, and lots of room to dance! Because that was the other vision I had for this space – that I would crank up the tunes and dance and sing. And I do!

When I envisioned the space, instead of thinking what I would fill it with, I thought about how I could BE and Feel in that space. I saw myself as calm, relaxed, and filled with joy. And I am, more often than I would have expected a year ago.

The lists of what to Have and Do are at root about what we think it will take to make us “really” happy. But when it comes down to it, happiness in our day-to-day lives very often comes from enjoying a delicious cup of our favorite tea, glowing from a fantastic yoga session, going for a walk on a beautiful day, reading a great book, laughing with a friend on the phone, or cranking up our favorite song. It turns out it’s true: the best things in life are (mostly) free.

So I invite you, as you examine or revise your lists for the year, to give special focus to how you would most like to Be and Feel; what daily pleasures get you to that state of mind; and what you might want to subtract from your life, rather than adding. Discovering how little we actually need to enjoy life can be one of the most profound lists we can make.

Polly Washburn is enjoying life. She has several ideas she’s letting simmer before serving them to the world.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

What Are Your Dreams? by Andrea Schroeder

You already know that your Creative Dreams really are important and needed.

But do you know what all of your Creative Dreams are?

Taking some time to really explore this can open up vast new possibilities.

Your assignment here is to come up with 100 Creative Dreams.

That's 100 things that you would like to do, be or have.

I was given this assignment when I first started taking classes to become a New Thought Healing Practitioner. That was years ago and it remains one of my favourite assignments.

I had a sheet of paper with 100 little lines on it. (I had to write small to fit everything in)

For that whole week, I kept it out on my table with a rainbow pack of coloured pens beside it, always ready to record new dreams.

Any time a wish or idea came to me, I added it to the list. I had 150 dreams when I brought it back to class at the end of the week. And I kept adding to it from there.

What I love about this list is that it opens things up.

It gets you thinking of what you really want.

This is not a list of things to do or dreams to chase after.

Just a juicy list of possibilities.

It can remind you of lost dreams and also it can show you where to go next. Sometimes when we're busy bringing one really super-big-delicious creative dream to life we forget about all of these other things we want to do, too. Taking a little time out to do those things replenishes and refuels and re-inspires us along the creative dream path.

If you already have a list - add another hundred things to it. Or start a new one. We are always growing and changing and our dreams grow and change with us.

Print out the 100 Creative Dreams Worksheet and get started today!

With a paintbrush in one hand & a glitter-gun in the other, Andrea lovingly mentors men & women who want to lead creatively abundant lives — and do ‘impossible’ things, with ease & joy. Express the greatest parts of who YOU are, at www.CreativeMagicAcademy.com.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

The Yearly Reset Button (aka Hope) by Kim LeClair

I'm a little bit of sucker for this time of the year. Fresh starts, new plans, the old is washed away and the new is yet to come. I love looking back on the previous year and forward to the next.

I have a habit (well, I've got lots of habits, this one I happen to love..can't say the same for all of them....) of getting up pretty early, about 5am each day. I do morning pages and then I spend time in my favorite chair, laptop in hand, and explore. During this time of the year, the exploration turns inward. I start digging thru old files to see what I wrote last year, trying to figure out what I was thinking 'back then' - what clues might I find to finally unlock the door to my Big, New, Free, Happy, Unusual Life?

It makes some sense that I love the New Year. I sort of like NEW in general, give me variety and give it to me in high doses. But all that need need need for change change change often ends up looking like a stressful spaghetti life. I haven't quite mastered the art of slowing down and sticking to it and keep on going even when the going gets tough.

But....good news to report. I think I may be getting better at it. When I look back on last year I see that in fact there is some shifting, some deep shifting, related to some old habits.

I wonder when you look back, what do you see? What shifts have happened. This is such a good time to reflect back and project forward. So many neat ways to connect to your dreams and goals. When you look back, what do you see?

Last night in Viniyoga class we did a meditation on Luminous Light. Can you see even the darker parts of last year in a New Light? There is no doubt that we are Always Learning, even from the dark parts. To cast Luminous Light onto those dark parts, to Learn what they have to Teach...this is my work right now.

And then on to the New, the Fresh. Oh...I do love the promise of possibility. I want to always be able to feel that, the open fresh feeling for the future. There is a small part of me that sometimes fears losing that. To be lost entirely to what I think is best described as Hope - that would be hard, that would feel closed in. Nope, that's not for me - I like Hope.

I HOPE you have had a fun time exploring your past, excavating, looking - shining a Luminous Light and Learning. And I HOPE you have a Most Extraordinary New Year -- 2012! How Exciting!

Kim LeClair has been a shadow creative for the past 40 years but is finally deciding to come out into the light. Kim is In the Process of Creating her Dream Job....Creative Director of east willow studios. For now, you can visit her at her current adventure Year of Wellness 2012.