Sunday, 30 September 2012

Celebrating Completion! By Kelly Besecke

Ahh, completion! Praise and sunshine and confetti and glory!

This month, Jamie Ridler suggested that the Creative Dream Journalers write about completion. The timing is perfect for me because just a week and a half ago, I finished writing my first book manuscript and sent it to my publisher. The book itself is far from complete—among other things, I will need to revise it based on feedback from my editor and three expert reviewers—but still, this is completion.

I began researching the material for this book fifteen years ago, in 1997. Five years later, I had a complete PhD dissertation, but my plans for a book got waylaid by other life demands, including a serious health crisis, a career change, three cross-country moves, and the launch of my own editing business. When I began to emerge from this hullaballoo, I spent two years writing a variety of book proposals targeted to different kinds of literary agents and publishers. A year ago, in August 2011, after receiving a bunch of rejections, I heard that my current publisher was interested, and this past January, I signed a contract. Since then, I've split my time between earning a living and writing the book.

And now, I get to take a break.

The day after I sent my manuscript to my editor, I went to a coffee shop and wrote a list of priorities for my post-manuscript life. Then I did a five-day fruit-and-vegetable detox diet. Then I immediately began retoxing by going out to brunch with a friend and then landing at a bookstore, where I'm eating a chocolate croissant while I write this post.

I worked for my editing clients this past week, but I also went river tubing, swam at a spring-fed pool, spent an hour bouncing on a huge trampoline, and went to a potluck dinner at a friend's house.

To my surprise, I also rediscovered my interest in my book's subject matter—spirituality and progressive religion—and attended the first of a six-part sermon series on the world religions at a local progressive church.

I'm playing. My favorite thing to do.

There are projects ahead—remaining work on this book, beginning the next one, and a variety of projects related to my non-writing life. But for now, my project is to play. To relax. To explore. To wander. To rest in that creative space of security—off task mode, no goals, no requirements, just being in the moment. That's how I want to spend what have, for past several years, been my writing days. Refilling the well—an ongoing artist's date—a return to center—a return to me—a temporary reprieve from productivity, for the sake of receptivity.

Since the career change/serious illness extravaganza, I've become a paranoid person. So it occurs to me: by stating my intention to partially abdicate responsibility to task-completion, am I inviting disaster? Will some crisis or set of crises arise to punish me for committing to being carefree for a while? Are true vacations—the kind where you really relax mentally and emotionally—allowed? Will my grand plan to be plan-free for a while get averted by Things That Need To Get Done?
Maybe. But today, I'm happy, and I'm going for it. That's the joy of completion.

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.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Love, Death & Relationships: It Isn't Personal by Aimee Cavenecia

I had a revelatory dream a few months ago. I woke up with the words "God is impersonal". (When I have dreams that are like messages, they usually take the form of written words or simple statements. I don't have these often, but when I do, I remember.) After I woke up, I immediately got it. I understood it completely. But of course! God loves everyone; God permits everything; God has no preference, goal, or agenda; God is unconditional. [I'm using the word God, but please know that I don't believe in a religion, or even the concept of a God, or Higher Being, separate from average living beings. God is just a word for "that which can not be named" in this case.]

This dream has become even more relevant & clear lately. I've had so many people contact me about deaths that they are dealing with, as well as heavy issues regarding romantic relationships. I spoke/emailed with everyone, telling them my thoughts on the matter. (I loved being able to have such intimate conversations. Being able to share life's deepest topics is such a gift that we rarely share. Most people aren't willing to be that vulnerable.)

As I was going through my day yesterday, my head was swirling with all that I've heard/read from people lately about relationships & life. I was also stewing in my own struggles (my own resistance to life, my resistance to what is). I was sitting in a very noisy Manhattan cafe, bustling with people & aliveness. It was quite loud & everyone's day-to-day conversation topics all coalesced into one sound. Similar to that of white noise. An answer came to me in that moment, one that I knew was connected to the God dream I had some time back. The answer was, "It isn't personal". I had the same feeling again -- I knew the truth in that statement & I knew it profoundly. Just as I did after the dream. I held that statement up to the suffering I felt about my relationship & about life's deepest questions that remain unanswerable: it isn't personal.

This idea of a "me" gets us into so much trouble. Something is happening to me; someone is rejecting me; someone is leaving me; someone is no longer in-love with me; someone died on me; something died in me; something is wrong with me; someone is mistreating me; someone is misjudging me... it goes on & on, & there is always another way to say it, but it all boils down to the same thing. We are separate individuals, in control. I want to say it again -- we are separate individuals, in control. How confused we are when we think like this. In my opinion & in my experiencing & in my knowing -- we have no control over anything, & neither does anyone else.

I'm going to list for you a few examples of how I have no control. (And just to be clear, this is not a debate. I'm just sharing with you my personal thoughts.) Who I fall in-love with; who falls in-love (or out-of-love) with me; who I find attractive; who finds me attractive; if people will be on time; if people will be late; when I wake up (naturally); when I fall asleep (naturally); when I have to urinate; when I have to defecate (naturally); how my heart pumps blood; how my digestion processes food; how much my nails & hair grow; how many sets of teeth I grow; how my voice sounds; the color of my skin (naturally); the color of my hair & eyes (naturally); how my body & face is shaped (naturally); what talents I have (naturally); who likes me; who I like; who likes my work; who's work I like; how other people behave; what people believe; how other people think; the weather; the seasons; the family I was born into; the country I was born in; the thoughts I have; & the choice of my own birth or existence!

Considering all the things I mentioned, how could we take things personally? That would imply that we have some sort of control, or that others have control. Another thing I noticed in the cafe filled with human beings & white noise, was the humility beneath it all. Under the faces & the talk & the fashion & the music & the food & the work & the intensity of it all.... there was humility. Just simple beings being without even realizing it. Beings that have no control over each other, or themselves. Beings that are no different from the simplest of life that will soon face death. Like leaves turning brown on a tree in autumn. They fall when they fall. They may bang into each other on windy days. They may fall on each other on the way down. Some may decay before others. Some may shine brighter. Some might last longer. It all happens as it needs to happen. The leaves don't take it personal. And why should they? It's not about being a leaf (or a separate individual). It's just life. Life living life. Life being lived. It's not my life, or your life. It's just life.

[The video clip posted was from the film Koyaanisqatsi. If you would like to watch the whole film: click here.]

Aimee Cavenecia (also known as AimeeLovesYou) is an author & activist who is currently igniting a Bliss & Self-Mastery revolution through her weekly blog Sunday Is For Lovers. Aimee's life-work is to share her insights on Seeing, Loving & Being (SLB), as well teaching meditation to people globally via the internet.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Sitting at the End of the Road By Valarie Budayr

I’m in a position that comes after a long journey and that is the point of reaching the goal I have worked so hard to get to, the end of my project.

I must be honest though, it isn’t a comfortable place for me. I’m so good at working towards my final destination but once it approaches I immediately start looking for the next project, the next piece of research, the next something to do, the next big thing to be inspired by.

Recently, one of my virtual assistants, who’s worked with me for years made quite a statement after I asked her to start another one of our creative projects.

“You know Valarie, I don’t think we need to start one more new thing until the beginning of the next month. You’ve worked two years on this latest project and now it’s launching.
You need to sit back and enjoy the ride and we all want to enjoy it with you.”

Until she mentioned it I had never thought about how I always start another project at the final ending of the current one. I had to agree with her; maybe it was time to just sit back and enjoy what I’ve already accomplished.

Just like the creative process has it’s journey the ending does as well. I woke up the next morning and began sending emails to my team that we are going to just enjoy our project’s end and learn to sit with it for awhile.

What does that mean?

Rest when we’re tired. Laugh when we succeed. Sit in the gap of nothing going on and learn to become comfortable with it. Dream. Be inspired. Be filled with Gratitude.

Why haven’t I stopped at the end to just enjoy before?

After much reflection I’ve realized that perhaps I was afraid to stop. Afraid that the creative well would run dry. In sitting at the end of the road I’ve had some really scary moments. What was I suppose to do with that void of non-creating. I chose to just sit with it. In all it’s discomfort and uneasy feeling. To acknowledge how it feels to come to the end of a two year project. That realization brings extreme joy. In time the discomfort and uneasiness has gone away and in it’s place is the comfort of knowing that the well will not run dry. Not even close. Celebrating the end of the project actually gives great space and depth between the journey and new beginnings.

It’s great to know that there is an end and that sitting with it is also part of the journey. Wherever your creative journeys take you, please enjoy your endings as much as your beginnings.

Here’s wishing you many creative moments.

Valarie Budayr is the founder of Audrey Press and author of the book The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden and The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She is passionate about making kid’s books come alive and you can find her doing that on her popular blog and website, Jump into a Book. When she isn’t being bookie, she is very happily the mother of three uber creative children, married to a wonderfully patient man who has come to love yarn, and caretaker of one adored cat. Other creative interests are music, travel, knitting (a bonafide yarn harlot), and gardening. She loves living a daily creative practice, where even a good cup of coffee is art.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Of Fluff and Journeys by Angel Young

Well - the truth is I'm a bit mixed about completing stuff. This stems from a moment of tiredness after my university finals, having trudged through too much Charles Dickens, Chaucer and other greats of the English language - a feeling which became almost a vow - not to continue reading books which are not fun or interesting to me, even if they are worshiped by others. It's good to not feel the obligation to complete everything. Liberating! 

Then there are things that do need to be completed - a quilt for my friend's new babe, a cushion for my aunts, a painting for my friend - these things are full of pleasure!

Then there are projects which may be completed, like my novel. My cousin, who assisted with some Danish research in 2007 for this doesn't quite believe it, but my feeling is it's just taking a bit of time.... And I'm ok with that. 

Then there are things that I can't seem to find a way through. That need time to stew. That are annoying and frustrating. That make me cross. It's really hard to step back from those projects. To know when to push and when to walk away, or at least let it rest. Patience, for me at least, is hard won. I'm still working on a solution to this, trying to trust my intuition. It's all I can hang onto in these moments. Stepping away now....

Finally there are wonderful, hard won completions - that feel amazing, and even in the hardest parts you can enjoy the journey. I guess that is the core of it - the journey itself needs to be rewarding, it needs to have a bit of zinginess about it. Those are the paths to really follow. Those are the paths that have a destination. Other projects are steps on that path, but focusing on the projects that speak to you, regardless of what anyone else has to say will ensure the things that need to get done are done. And that's enough for anyone. The rest is just fluff so you can let it go! Liberation is the key here, and of course, not to be too cliched, the journey is the destination so love the road!

Angel lives in the UK, and is proud of canoeing 460 miles of the Yukon river in Canada this summer. Then you really know the journey is the destination!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Completion by Ginny Lennox

What does completion mean to me?  That is a really interesting question.

There were times that it meant a feeling of loss.  There were times when I completed something that I felt a real sense of emptiness.  All of the planning, all of the work, all of the excitement was over and the feeling that I was left with was emptiness.  At these times I realized how much I enjoyed the journey and now that it was over how much I missed it.  These were the times I asked myself, “What should I do next?” 

Other times completion meant a feeling of joy and excitement.  I had reached a goal or accomplished a task and I felt good about it.  I already knew what I wanted to do next and I was ready to start.

Now completion means that one door has closed leaving room for another door to open.  I have come to realize that there is always another door, another journey, another adventure to be taken.  The important part is not the ending but the moments between the beginning of something new and its completion.   Enjoying the challenge, the fun, the excitement and then celebrating the completion is what I do now. I live in the present while I prepare for the future.    I don’t worry about what is going to happen next.  I have come to realize that as long as I am open to learning new things there will always be a new beginning with a wonderful ending to celebrate.   That is what completion means to me today.  What does it mean to you?

Footnote:  When I finished typing this piece I looked to my right.  On my windowsill sat a quote and a note I wrote to myself on New Year’s Day.  The quote was from Joseph Campbell and said, “Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before.”  The note that I wrote to myself said, “Trust that doors will open in 2012.”  They have opened and I know they will continue to do so.  Just another “wink,” as Jamie Ridler would say, from the Universe that I am on the right path.

Ginny Lennox believes that each and every day is filled with special moments. On her blog Special Moments In Time she encourages everyone to recognize and celebrate their own special moments. Ginny also believes that we are all creative and talented people. In her workshops, All About Me and Circle of Dreams, Ginny shares ways to discover your talents.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Flirting with Completion by Meghan Genge

"If we wish a genuine healing of our hearts - not just fixing things, not just bandaging the broken aorta of the spirit - we must question the ego's most fundamental assumptions. For only when we reject the ego's account of who we are, can we begin to discover who we really are." - Marianne Williamson, The Gift of Change

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You have to understand how hilarious it is for me to write about completion. Sitting in my office, I can see at least 15 books that I have started and not finished. I have at least three notebooks on the go, and I am the author of not one but seven uncompleted blog posts. I work to the wire, resisting deadlines and schedules like they are poison.

Completion and I are not friends. In fact, I would go as far as to say that completion has been one of my fiercest enemies.

At least that is the story I have been telling myself.

Completion means done. It means not able to tweak anymore. It means the process is finished and I should have Learned Something. Completion implies a finality, an ending. Completion means that someone else now has control over my creation or work. Completion means submitting. Completion means putting it out there for criticism or feedback.

Completion is scary!

And yet, it the deepest corners of my soul, a light has turned on. So many of the stories I have told myself are based in childhood fears. So many of the rules I live by and the I AMs I function with are simply not true. Like an old computer, I need an upgrade on my programming. I need to stand in the middle of the chaos, look completion in the eye and say, "I am not afraid of you."

Marianne Williamson writes, "...when we reject the ego's account of who we are, can we begin to discover who we really are."

So I am choosing to look completion in the eye. I am choosing to dance with her a little; do a little dabbling in allowing her to lead.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Megg is a writer, a seeker, and a finder of magic.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Completion by Alli Vainshtein

In a distracted world, it is easy to find a million things to start without completing any. The key to completing a project is mindfulness. Focus on what you are doing, when you want to finish it, what the steps are, then put the work into doing it. Sounds easy, doesn't it? But I know, it is not always so simple.

I think the key for me is focus. When I am working on a project, I don't always plan it all the way through. I start it and don't really know how it will look when it's done. When I paint, I start splashing color and eventually a pattern develops and the picture will appear. When I write stories, I throw the characters on the page, create a setting, then watch to see what they do as I write. This is my creative process, but I am learning that intention helps to focus the brain. If my intention is that my characters will fall in love and get married, I will put my effort into creating ways for them to meet, interact, learn more about each other. If my intention in painting is to create a swan, then I will start with an outline of a swan and the water she is swimming in. Intention doesn't stop the creative process, it streamlines it so that I can reach completion more efficiently..

Focus and intention does not come naturally to me. I have had many jobs - minister, detective, press operator, forklift driver, claims manager, insurance underwriter, jewelry salesperson, color consultant, accountant, and now teacher. I did not intend to have a meandering career, but I am interested in so many different things, I am adaptable, I learn things quickly, and I am willing to try anything. This does not mean I failed earlier in life, it just means that I gathered an amazing number of skills and perspectives that help me to understand my students much better..

I don't think failure is a good way to describe experience in life. I learned some things I would prefer not to do again. I tried many different hats on and now I know which one I like best. I learned from every fork in the path that I turned on. There is no RIGHT or WRONG path for your life. You make choices, you live with the consequences and the opportunities that those choices create. And really, in life, it's not about completion. It's the journey. It's every step, every day, every minute, and every second that you are breathing. It's the choices. It's the fun that you have. It's the lives that you touch..

My intention for my life is to make the world a better place. There's always room to do more, so I don't plan on completing it anytime soon..

Alli Vainshtein is a business, accounting, and career instructor at Riverland Community College in Tropical Southern Minnesota. She loves to write (stories, lectures, blogs, letters, emails, etc.), paint, play piano, meditate, travel, cook, make new friends, and live like a Goddess. She is also a great fan of Jamie Ridler - the Circe's Circle changed her life dramatically!

Friday, 7 September 2012

How to Relate to Others (or Anything) Effortlessly by Aimee Cavenecia

I find that when something is hard, or challenging, you just keep at it until you surrender. And usually the surrender is the giving up of meaning (any meaning or labeling you are attaching to it: to them, to you, to the situation, to the conversation, to the moment, etc.).

After you surrender, the thinking stops, the struggle disappears, & everything just is. Whatever it was that you were resisting, has now become perfectly acceptable -- perfect for this moment. Everything becomes quite simple & easy suddenly.

That being said, in the beginning, as you resist what you think is happening -- it's really tough. Especially if you have a past with the person, place or thing that you are having trouble relating to. Let's use family as an example. Most conversations with family members come with topics based on the past that are like trauma triggers. Or maybe even the sight of certain family members induce negative feelings related to past trauma.

Anyone that has experienced something hurtful, or something traumatic, will do whatever it takes to defend or protect themselves, to remove themselves from the situation, or to simply to avoid it altogether. This is a normal & common defense based on not wanting the past to be repeated.

But the truth is, at the present moment, we aren't our bodies that experienced trauma years ago, or our thoughts about what happened -- bodies change over time, thoughts come & go. But our soul, our essence, our energy, the love that we are -- that stays the same. And if we can relate to other people through unlabeled energy, through spirit, or through formless love -- we should be able to relate to anyone. Relating to people would be so easy, like they were our soul twin or a perfect reflection of our true selves. Just effortless connectedness at it's core.

When someone has trouble relating to people, it's usually based on the past (e.g., things learned, seen, or experienced, as well as manipulative media programming). And because of this, people are viewed from a severely limited & debilitating angle: how they look, what they do, what they say. This is a sure way to feel separate from people & to sever the possibility of genuine relatedness.

The job of the person that wants to be free & relate to others (or anything) effortlessly, is to let that go. Let the past go, let what was temporary go, & begin to relate from the truth of the present moment. One spirit or energy or love, relating to another one, as an equal.

Until someone can do that, until they can connect with people in an effortless way, even the suffering one endures in the meantime is perfect. Because the challenge, or the suffering, is a valuable teaching. Returning to the family example: one's family (or ex-spouse, boss, ex-partner, neighbor, patrolman, heckler, competitor) becomes their guru. Their family (or that person) becomes their greatest teacher, or even their greatest lover. Through that difficult relationship, one learns the truth -- one learns how to love.

Aimee Cavenecia (also known as AimeeLovesYou) is an author & activist who is currently igniting a Bliss & Self-Mastery revolution through her weekly blog Sunday Is For Lovers. Aimee's life-work is to share her insights on Seeing, Loving & Being (SLB), as well teaching meditation to people globally via the internet.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Creative Dream TV: Why it's so hard to get started sometimes and what to do about it. 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