Friday 30 December 2011

Why I Write Morning Pages by Amy Palko

I write morning pages. Every morning without fail. Even when I recently had a pressing engagement through in Glasgow that required I leave the house at 5.30 (with 3 fed, washed & dressed children), I was up at 4.15 in the still quiet of the early morning dark, writing my three A4 pages of longhand stream of consciousness. My pen travelled fluidly across the lined paper and I struggled to keep my eyes open.

A part of me is surprised at myself. I didn’t know I had it in me to be so dedicated to a practice. Give me a challenge, set me a target and I will respond with the most vicious resistance. But morning pages seem to have snuck under the radar somehow. I think it’s because I write them before I’m fully awake. As I begin to slide into consciousness, my limbs languid, my body sleepwarm, I lean across the mattress and fumble around for my large A4 refill pad and my black biro. Pulling my humble writing materials back into the bed with me, I rest my head against my left arm and start writing from this horizontal position.

From this perspective it can sometimes be hard to see where the far edge of the paper is, which has led to a couple of ink stains on the sheets. It can also be hard to see exactly what I’m writing, but that’s ok, because being able to read my pages back over is not really important to me. It’s the act of writing them in the first place that produces the magic. That and quite frequently my pages are filled with garbled nonsense. And I certainly won’t be winning any awards for beautiful penmanship.

But this practice, this practice above all others that I have started and stopped, is now a non-negotiable aspect of my day. It’s one of the very few things that I do solely for me, and to start your day by doing something which is only for you and for the blossoming of your creative self, is a very powerful statement to make. In fact, even if you believe yourself not to be interested in nurturing your creativity, morning pages are a simple act of self-love. A missive to your heart, your mind, that you matter, that you are worth spending the time on.

So, why do I write morning pages? What’s been the result of all these mornings of scribbled pages?

Honestly, dear reader, I believe this practice has led me back to myself. I don’t think I even really knew just how lost I was until I found myself again. I remembered things that I had forgotten. Things like my love of words. My desire to write beautifully. The pleasure that I get when I find flow in describing the sacred wonder I see in the everyday.

I found my voice.

I found my desire.

I found my purpose.

All this from 3 A4 pages of scrawled black biro morning after morning? Could that even be possible? Yes. Yes, I think it can, my lovely. And I would love for you to experience it for yourself.

If you do want to give it a go, or have tried it in the past and then dropped it and want to pick it up again, I have some advice for you…

Take a refill pad of paper and a pen (check it works the night before – running out of ink while writing your pages is the single most annoying thing ever) and place it on the floor beside your bed. Then, upon waking, reach for the pad and pen and start writing. Don’t give yourself time to think about it. You’ll only talk yourself out of doing it in the first place. Just reach for your simple writing tools – no need for that special pen, sharpened HB pencils or expensive journal – and just write. Just write.

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 of Virgins & Lovers: Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Goddess, exploring goddess myths and moon cycles through story, journalling, visualisation and creative exercise.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Rhythm and Putting It Out There by Kim LeClair

Here's the question of the day: How do I tell if my activity is Distraction from Fear or Creating What I Care About?

Going to have to back up a few steps and then come back to that question...hang in there with me....I think this is going to be good....

Here's the basic scoop - I have a day job, but it may be ending soon. I don't like my job that much anyway so I'm not so bummed about losing it (although losing $$ coming in the door…that’s a different story…see Kelly’s cool post about $$....). I've mentioned before that I have spent long years basically saying I wanted to do something "more creative" and then not really doing much of anything. Or, maybe I was doing things here and there but nothing felt connected and I actually felt like I was being Lazy. I know others would argue that I was not being lazy, but I felt like it - that's the point.

I don't feel lazy anymore at all. In fact, I feel kind of overwhelmed. I have what feels like about 10,000 ideas a day and then I also keep working hard to articulate stuff into reality. This rampant idea generation coupled with lots of other concrete activity is starting to feel like a frenzy - like a feeding've seen that - the wild, out of control thrashing that happens on nature shows. That is what it feels like a little bit IN MY HEAD !!

I'm realizing I need to slow down a bit... make a plan - have a strategy - set aside time - have priorities - make short term and long term goals - write things down - make lists - do this - do that - do - do something - aaaahhhh....! It's happening again, I can feel the thrashing! (ok, taking a breath...)

So here's the deal - what I think I really need to do is to tap into my own Internal Rhythm. What works for me? Here is what my rhythm is right now - lots of high energy, frenzied work for a few days then I allow myself time to crash. And when I say crash, I really mean "Do Nothing, sit and watch bad TV, stare into space, be a bowl of jello time" crashing. Right now, this High-to-Low Rhythm is actually kind of working. I keep getting things done and I'm not really feeling too run down or spent. So it is ok? Hold that question....

Here is this other little nugget that I've picked up along the way - Putting it Out There is Hard. I knew, or at least I had read, that Fear and Resistance were real. But just recently I'm starting to actually Experience how Real Fear Is. To put something out in the world that is you, a real representation of you, something you really care about, something you really want others to like, that is really really a big deal. I felt it in a palpable way the other day, I was thinking about doing something and realizing that others would read it and people I know would read it and questioning if I would want them to and what if they hated it and I would be embarrassed and ...and...and...I sort of went into a freak out mind loop...fear baby, raw fear....

So now let's come back to the question - is my activity actually just Distraction? Is my High-to-Low Rhythm supporting me in moving past my fears and doing stuff I care about? I think this is a great question...a really great question.

Am I hiding out from fear? Am I distracting myself? In this moment I have to answer no, but I think I want to keep the question in mind and keep asking myself how I would honestly answer in any given moment. I'm pretty sure the answer will change. The high-to-low rhythm - I have a feeling that is just sort of who I am. I run on inspiration and enthusiasm and sometimes the tank goes empty and I have to fill it up again. I think I'm ok with that.

After a feeding frenzy, the water calms and energy is spent and the crazed are satiated. Maybe the occasional frenzy isn't so bad, as long as it ends and there is time to rest and you get to reflect on the question “is what I ate what I wanted?”

Excuse the sort of strange metaphor there. I’m not sure if any of this really make sense, this strange circular thing, but it made some sense to me – helped me to clarify a bit what is going on. I really do think Internal Rhythm, figuring out how you work, is So Important. Otherwise you might keep thinking you are doing something wrong. And knowing your rhythm helps you watch out for fear that is starting to turn working into distraction. So that’s the point – watch your Internal Rhythm and make sure it is supporting you in work that you Really Care About.

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 one of her other adventures -- MoveJoyUs or fitness for mere mortals.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

How to Meditate Effortlessly by Aimee Cavencia

Meditation & love are the same thing.

Meditation is nothing more than an unconditional state of being.
So is love. It's nothing more than an unconditional state of being.

Whatever you heard about "how to" to meditate; meditation techniques, methods, teachings, trainings, forget them. You don't need them.
Whatever you read about how to love, forget it, because you are it.

Why would you ever need something that you already are?

You are awareness.
You are beingness,
You are love.

It's under all the layers of learned imaginings you've been trained to see as real.
It's under all the busy-ness & doing-ness you force upon yourself each & every day.

If you want to know what divine meditativeness is, this blissful state of nothing, this powerful unconditional love,
this all knowing awareness -- just stop, stop trying to make something happen.

This doesn't mean that you are still like a rock. Or that you are silent. It just means that you are not trying to manipulate the present moment.
It means that you are not-over thinking & run by your thoughts based the past or future. Instead, you are coming from the heart & fully embracing this moment, as it is.

Unlike structured meditation, you don't need hand mudras, or a fancy seated position, or flexible legs, or a meditation cushion, or a special mantra, or prayer beads, or a bell, or a bowl, or gong, or a teacher, or a guru, or a religion, or a quiet space, or to be alone, or to be with others, all you need is nothing. Nothing to repeat, nothing to think, nothing to hold, nothing to do, nothing to expect.

Think of it this way; when you are sleeping or when you are dead, what do you need? Can you think of anything?
This is the kind of nothingness & completeness I am taking about.

But don't think of it in a negative way. Know that you need nothing because you already are Everything!

Can you imagine how powerful your life would be if you lived like this?
All the fear, all the lack, all the busy-ness, all the anger, all the jealousy, all the hate, all the confusion, all the work, all the desires, all the frustration, would just fall away.

Being in a meditative state & loving unconditionally is like falling, it's like falling awake.
There is nothing you can do to get there. There are no steps, there are no methods, it just is.

It's as gentle & sudden as falling asleep. One minute you are awake, & the next day you have no idea at what point you feel asleep or for how long.

Imagine meditation & love as a combination of those two states: you are at ease & relaxed & effortless (just as you are when you are sleeping),
but you are fully present & fully aware (just as you are when you're awake).

If I could describe how I meditate, or how I love, or how it feels when I am just being, it's a little like this: let's say that I am in a community swimming pool.
I am floating on the water. In order to float, I have to relax, I have to lean back & I have to trust the water will carry me.
So I am there, just trusting, & the only thing I am doing is being awake & aware, that takes no effort. So really, I'm just being.
I'm not swimming, I'm not kicking, I'm not looking around, I'm not even trying to float, I'm just being.

Now, just like in meditation or in love, thoughts can arise. But imagine the pool scenario again.

There I am, just being, but now I notice that outside circumstances have stirred-up certain thoughts.
There is now a bunch of children in the pool splashing each other, & their splashing could make its way over to me. -- Can I be with that?
If I just love it & be with it, it'll be temporary. Either they will stop splashing after a while, or their splashing will no longer be a concern for me.

Now here is another pool scenario, imagine that there is a 400 pound man that recklessly jumps off the diving board.

This has now generated waves in the pool. These waves are now making it harder for me to trust that I can just relax & float. It's a little challenging, even scary.
Can I be with that? Can I love that man & continue to trust that the water will support me even though the waters are rocky?

Eventually the man will stop diving, & the waves will settle. Or they won't. But it won't matter because it will no longer be a concern for me because I won't even notice it.

This is love, this is meditation, this is being, this is awareness, this is life!

Don't worry about thoughts when you meditate, just love them, allow them & accept them.

Don't worry about people who act unloving or unkind, just love anyway.
Love without needing to be loved back. You don't need their love, because you are already love itself!

Just float & be supported, just be aware & be carried, just relax & trust. Just know.

Let go of everything. Stop trying to be someone doing something.
Think of how silly it is, I'm going to say it again, stop trying to be someone doing something.

All this effort to be someone trying to love, trying to meditate, trying to be, trying to float.

There is nothing to do. You can't force these states with a rigid set of rules or a to-do list.

It happens on its own when you surrender & allow yourself to be.

You are the answer to every want you've ever had & the way to access this is to stop resisting, to stop fighting.

Love has no agenda, it has no needs, it has no past, it has no future. It just is.

Same with meditation, it has no agenda, no needs, no past, no future. It just is.

Beingness has no agenda, no needs, no past, no future. It just is.

So the next time it feels hard to love, or you struggle to meditate, or you don't know how to be, just know that there is nothing to do & there is no way you can achieve it. All you can do is realize it or better yet, allow it. Because it's already there!

But if you still feel you need to do something in order to get something, just practice letting go.

Practice relaxing & exhaling fully.
Practice smiling for no reason when you feel the urge.
Practice following your feet & seeing where they take you.
Practice having nothing to do & nowhere to be.
Practice loving everything & everyone, as is.
Practice seeing yourself as whole, as complete, as perfect.
Practice focusing on the present, & accepting that the past & the future do not exist.
Practice listening to your heart & following its advice.
Practice acknowledging that you are the answer to all of your questions.

Then, after that feels effortless, just love, just meditate, just realize.

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.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Celebrating Slow by Kim LeClair

The Holidays. Always a strange time, lots of activity, excitement, things to do, people to see, emotions not felt since last year or maybe never at all. A Full time.

This year I’m aware of wanting to Celebrate Slow. To enjoy the Snuggle. To enjoy the Warm, the Hearty, the Smiles, the dim lights, the Being Alone or the Being With.

I’ve had an Active year, lots of stuff and creating and Aliveness. That is a Fast Energy for me and I thrive on it. But this Season I’m wanting to Revel in Lounging, fuzzy slippers, old movies, couch time…..

Can we allow ourselves to experience Slow as Celebration? As Celebration of our bodies, our minds, our spirits?

I looked up the root of the word Celebrate : “assemble to honor” is one option. What will you Assemble to Honor this season? For me it is a warm set of PJs and some cookies and milk and some cozy couch time.

My wish for everyone in the whole wide world (and imagine a 4-year old girl saying this with her arms spread wide open and the pure heart only small years can bring....that is what I’m imagining….) – so my wish for the Whole-Wide-World is to Celebrate Slow. Hug yourself. Get cozy. Cuddle with yourself. Celebrate. Slow.

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 one of her other adventures -- MoveJoyUs or fitness for mere mortals.

Thursday 15 December 2011

The Ideal Recipe? by Angel Young

Hi dreamers

I've been pondering what to say about the creative process. By far the most useful phrase I've ever read was "the darkness is your friend" by Tony Harrison, from John Tusa's excellent set of interviews about creativity called, handily, "On Creativity". I appreciated that because I love the dark and have always found it a hugely creative time, especially really late at night (not very conducive to the day job), and also because he meant accept the pauses, and that is soooo hard sometimes. I write this with a smile in my eyes because I'm still rubbish at that bit - the pausing bit - but I keep trying!

These things are so personal, it's hard to say something helpful. Meanwhile my husband has been making mincemeat mix - and by that I mean the mince pies kind - do you have them where you are? Little pastry pleasures of fruit and nuts and run and .... well the choice is yours. And I can tell you home made is the best! And isn't that true of the creative process. So this is what helps me. A little recipe to get through the creative process - there are many recipes - but this is one that works for me.

Take a generous portion of silence. Make sure it's good quality, the kind that melts into you on contact.

Combine with stillness - that everything is one moment kind, the type that feels timeless.

Here, I like to add a bit of walking, or canoeing or just being in nature. That really helps.

Allow to steep. Pause a moment to let the juice mix together. Adding some wisdom and experience helps too. You know that if you rush this recipe, it curdles. Make notes, so you can get this bit running perfectly! Then you'll know what to expect.

Now add gentleness and softness. These are required in any recipe. Harsh words ruin the flavour.

Put in the oven and allow to rise. Sometimes there are imperfections - but it's important it takes it's own course. Try not to open the door too soon, or the rush of ideas will escape with the heat!

When it's done, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Admire what you have achieved. Anyone who tastes it will see it's made of dreams and time and care. Good enough to eat. Enjoy, and share with your friends!

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

Monday 12 December 2011

Your Life is a Creative Process by Susan Cadley

Whenever I start a creative project, I seem to go through a similar process. Because I know my process, it can make starting a bit easier....usually. I know that no matter what shows up, I can create again and the learning is in the doing not the finished project. I still get frustrated...I keep fortitude and acceptance in my pocket.

I recently took a painting class offered by a talented artist, Maureen Engle. Maureen is a fabulous teacher as she helps her students express who they are as well as offering concrete suggestions. The class I attended was called "Paint Your Dream Dress". I had absolutely no idea how to paint a dress but I as shared with Maureen, it didn't matter what we would be painting, I would've attended. This is how I maintain balance in my life; keeping a healthy dose of creativity flowing. If I don't, my soul will speak. Loudly.

I believe every person is creative, it's not just the obvious people who enjoy artistic endevours who are creative. You are creative in how you design your calendar, home, clothes, food, garden, and self care. You are creative in how you spend your time, with whom, and how. You are creative in writing an email, a card, a note for the babysitter. Any time there is some-thing that is an outcome of no-thing - you've created! So for those of you that affirm "I'm not creative" you no longer have permission to say this. Instead, embrace and honor your creativity in whatever form it appears. The more you do, it will grow and expand.

The following are some creative stages I move in and through and around when I paint along with some life lessons that parallel the process;

1) A blank canvas. I usually feel nervous and excited with some fear sprinkled that I have no idea what I'm doing. It's at this stage, I hesitate...I distract myself. Fear can do that.

Life: If you stop yourself from creating new relationships, job opportunities, or projects, it may be fear getting in your way. Fear makes us pause and evaluate. Then, when we discover the coast is clear we move ahead. If you get stuck in this stage, you won't experience all you can in your life. This is "take a risk" phase and it's where you'll grow. Shift your inner dialogue to "I can do this".

2) If you don't like it, change it, add color, paint over it. Just about every time I'll reach a stage where I don't like my painting. Something's not right. Perhaps the proportion is off or I don't like the color. I've asked my fellow painting students if this is true for them and they all said yes. Their suggestion; step away for a while and come back with fresh eyes.

Life: Have you ever been so immersed in something that felt painful like an argument, an upset customer, a relationship, project...that you could not come up with a solution? Stepping away and out of the situation allows you to gain a new perspective. Asking for help can remove the feeling of being alone in the process and may offer an innovative idea, or two, or more.

3)Love it, paint over it or start a new piece.

Life: No matter what happens in your life, you can begin again. If you allow fear to hold you back, you may believe you are protecting yourself but you are missing out on the buffet of choices life has to offer. And oh... all the luscious color, texture and joy as well!

This is the finished painting of my wedding dress from the painting class. I’m happy with the outcome, love the surprises and “mistakes” that showed up. I gained a wee bit more painting confidence, a benefit of forcing myself to try something new. Invitation to you; attempt something new or old, and allow your soul to express. It’s always waiting for the invitation to dance with life.

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.

Thursday 8 December 2011

You Have to Be It in Order to See It by Aimee Cavenecia

Interesting thing happened today.

I started off the day in my semi-new way; I set up the day with an intention. I've have been doing this for the last two weeks. So today was like any other day (when it began). Today's intention was kindness. The goal was to be kind & to experience a kind day. By the afternoon I began to see, feel, & experience kindness.

The first things I noticed (& I live in New York City!), was how kind everyone was. So many people opened the door for me, gave up a seat for me, said please & thank you, wished me happy holidays, complimented me, or smiled at me. After this I thought, "Wow, am I experiencing more kindness than usual? Or is this a normal day for me? If so, this would mean that kindness towards me usually goes unseen & unacknowledged? Woh." This thought made me think about the morning.

Earlier this morning, a friend of mine ate breakfast with me, packed me a snack for lunch, let me borrow a scarf, & asked me if I had subway fare on hand. Did these kind gestures really sink in? Did I acknowledge them fully? They were very kind & thoughtful, yet they passed in my day as quickly as the morning. I was beginning to see how much kindness I experience in my life & how much of it goes unacknowledged or unseen. This was a huge eye opener. By 1pm in the afternoon I had experienced more kindness then I can type! - Then came more.

I met a friend at a cafe. The first thing out of their mouth was, "Here, this is for you". Believe it or not, it was $100 dollars. I said, "What is this for?!". They said it was for me & nothing more. No ulterior motive, no favor, no expectation, just a loving gift because they wanted to. Just a kind & generous gesture. Now, if this was any other day I would be thinking, "Hmmmm… no way am I taking this money, no one is this kind for nothing", or "Why are they giving like this? This is crazy. They don't have extra money to give". I would feel totally guilty for accepting the gift & I would have refused it. But, today was different.

I already spent part of the day experiencing people's acts of random kindness. Giving generously & being kind was something that felt in line with being a human being. I guess this is just part of who we are. Our job is to be part of human kind, it's who we are! No wonder the words BEING & KIND are there. Being kind is part of being human! So I accepted with heartfelt thanks the kind monetary gift I was given. My heart began to glow. I was overwhelmed with feelings of kindness. Interesting that the day began with just me wanting to be kind, and in return I saw the whole world as kind.

I began the day with the desire to treat others with kindness & in return (before I even started it!), I was treated with unconditional kindness & generosity. How powerful this was to see. What a lesson it was for me. Gandhi's quote stands so clear in my mind right now, "Be the change you want to see in the world." - Isn't that the truth. --But maybe what we want to see is already there. We just have to be it in order to see it.

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.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Taking A Creative Journey – One Imperfect Step At A Time by Ginny Lennox

For the past five years I have been on a creative journey. It’s been amazing! It’s been frustrating! It has been so rewarding. Not only have I discovered some hidden talents but I have learned a lot about myself along the way. My journey actually began with yoga. After a difficult start, I realized that I probably would never be able to stand on my head. But I also learned how terrific I felt after class and that it didn’t matter if I could stand on my head. It just mattered that I enjoyed what I was doing. Then I took several painting classes and enjoyed all of them. But when I looked at my work I decided I would never really be a great artist and thought maybe there might be something else I should be doing. I remembered how much I loved to write so I took writing classes, started a blog, and began to write a book. I realized I do love writing and getting to know all of the other bloggers but writing a book can be a lonely process so my book and all of its characters are in the drawer for now. This month I took a photography class. Once again, it was so much fun meeting the other online students and seeing their work. The assignments have helped me to learn more about myself as a photographer. It was really fun to learn that I do have a point of view when I take pictures or that I actually can say I have a shooting style. Who knew? Certainly, not me. Now, I am starting an art journal where I can combine all of my new interests.

When I started this journey it was about finding something to do with my time. It was about meeting new people and learning new things. Now, it has become a way of life. I look at each day a little differently. When I wake up in the morning, I can’t wait to see how the sun shines through the trees or the raindrops glisten on the leaves. I can’t wait to take a picture to capture the moment or quickly sketch a flower in my journal. I look forward to writing a blog post and sharing it with my new friends around the world. Once it was about becoming an artist, or a writer, or a photographer. Now, it is about being creative, enjoying the process and producing something that makes me or someone else smile. In the beginning I was worried because I changed what I was doing so often. Now, I realize that on this journey I will always be changing but that my interests will always be intertwined. I think one of the most important things I have learned is not to be afraid to pick up the paint brush, or to start a blog, or to take a picture. I wanted to paint the perfect picture the first time I took a class. That didn’t happen. In fact, it still hasn’t happened and I doubt that it ever will. But this journey is not about being perfect. It is about enjoying life and all of the experiences that are there just for the taking. So, you may find a few sentence fragments in this piece. That’s ok. My pictures might be a little out of focus. Picasa can fix that. I might be facing right when the rest of the yoga class is turning left. I’ll figure it out soon enough. Is it easy going from a perfectionist to someone who is enjoying the process not necessarily the outcome? Definitely not. Is it worth taking a chance and risking the outcome? Absolutely, positively, yes!! So I invite you to begin or restart your own creative journey. I promise you that you will not be disappointed!

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.

Sunday 4 December 2011

See Yourself in 2012 by Kim LeClair

End of the 2011. Wow, amazing amazing amazing. So what’s next?

I’m a big fan of the look back/look ahead. There are lots of good things out there about planning – here is one from Jamie and one from Glenda – but here is something I'm doing myself that I find to be a really easy, fun and interesting exercise. This is sort of a mash up of an exercise I've done with Jamie and then the classic "ultimate day" exercise. Just give it a shot, it's fascinating what comes up....

So here goes – instead of making a list or planning how something is going to happen or what you want to do – take a bit of time to play and do this:

Imagine yourself on March 21, 2012. Where do you wake up? Who are you with? What do you wear? Where do you go? How are you feeling? What happens in your day? What activities do you do? When do you go to sleep? You could even draw a picture of yourself and label it with the artifacts of the day (I've done this, it's fun!)

So just imagine March 21, 2012. It doesn’t matter if it’s pure fantasy or not, just write it down. And write as many or as few details as you want, but really Let Yourself Go There. March 21, 2012.

Now, Imagine yourself on July 6, 2012. Same thing. What’s the day like? As many or as few details as you can muster. Just Imagine it.

Imagine yourself on November 23, 2012. Same thing. Take as much or as little time as you want, no rules here....just enjoy the spirit of imagining yourself on specific days - what do you look like? What do those days look like? How do they feel?

So now you have 3 days in 2012. What did you notice? What details stand out? An even more interesting question may be what was the same as it is now? Can you celebrate that as something that is just as you want it to be? For me this was clear when I woke up in my own little house on all of those days in 2012 - I can celebrate that being something that is just perfect TODAY! So that is something that I can just let be, I don't need to worry or wonder about it at all - it is just as it should be. How cool is that?

So just hold these thoughts now. You've got them written down, maybe put your words and sketches in a drawer and pull it out on March 21 and see what’s the same or different? What do you notice? If these 3 days feel weird and arbitrary then you can pick your own 3 days, clearly there are no rules to something I just made up….

Just have fun with Seeing Yourself. Notice what you notice. I’m pretty sure you are awesome – now and then!

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 one of her other adventures -- MoveJoyUs or fitness for mere mortals.

Friday 2 December 2011

Race Day by Glenda Myles

Since I made the decision in September to get healthy I have been very focused on different ways of exercising including running. I remember running when I was in school. We had to do it, but I have never been a runner in my adult life. I have tried it a few times but it just didn’t take. But I knew I needed to get into shape and running is a great way to do that.

So, I started the couch to 5 km program which starts you off alternating between walking and running and slowing increasing the running and decreasing the walking. I was doing okay with it but with no goal in mind I was really not fully committed. Then in late September I got a challenge to sign up for a race. So, I did.

That kicked things into gear a bit. Starting the last week in September with 3 km running I committed to every second week adding a kilometer to the distance which would get me up to 5 km before the race. It was not easy. It was a process. And I wanted to quit MANY times along the way. No one would have known or cared, except me.

What did I learn through this experience?

The mental game: I don’t know how often I would be out running and I would think – “Oh I will run to that tree and then I can walk for a bit.” Followed by another thought: “Hang on – why do I have to walk? I am not that tired!” This back and forth would go on and on. My body is quite capable of running 5 km. My mind on the other hand likes it when my body is lazy and relaxed and will do just about anything to keep it that way. Running like many things in life is a mental game! You have to push past it.

Practice makes perfect: You need to actual get out and run in order to get prepared. You have to practice. The lesson practice makes perfect is fitting in many circumstances. Most of us, can’t just get up one day and decide to do something. You have to train, to learn, to practice. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at anything.

It is easier to commit 100% than 90%: Sometimes, actually always, it is easier to make a decision I am going to exercise everyday for at least 30 minutes. Not 4 days a week or sometimes or this day or that. It’s too easy to say I’ll do it tomorrow or I’ll do something else instead if you give yourself some wiggle room.

Don‘t believe your own crap: Sometimes you have to do something just to prove to yourself that you are capable of doing it. To get over that hump. We beat ourselves up about so much that we actually start to believe our own mental crap. Occasionally we need to shake things up and do something that shows we are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

Today is a good day to start.

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

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Projects Are Like Quilts by Susan Cadley

Have you ever had a HUGE project or idea and you become so overwhelmed you stop in your tracks, get distracted, feel anxious, and end up just ignoring it? These kinds of projects have a way of continually tapping you on the shoulder, saying “hey, when are we going to get started?”

In construction, there’s a term for huge, overwhelming projects, they are called BHAG’s. This acronym stands for a Big – Hairy – Audacious – Goal. I had never heard this term until I heard a man describing the BHAG he was working on in his back in his yard. I’ve always wanted to use this term, and now I can. If you’ve got a BHAG, how do you get started?

I’ve been in what I call a brewing stage for a while now. I’ve been listening to my soul and receiving many new creative ideas. I’ve been writing them down and talking them up. I kept getting tapped on the shoulder by these ideas so I decided to take on a BHAG. Instead of thinking about the task as one huge project, I decided to begin taking small steps. I complete one task a week and give it all my attention.

If you have a large project looming, begin simply, begin small. Each step will take you to the next, and the next. I liken this to creating a quilt. My Mom is a quilter and I’ve always enjoyed sharing in her satisfaction as each square was completed. Each square being unique and important to the whole of the finished project. Find joy and learning in creating each square. The process is the journey. Before you know it, you’ll unfurl a quilt that is uniquely you.

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

Monday 28 November 2011

Falling in Love by Glenda Myles

Image: Vega Ad

When I was around 7 or 8 years old, I begged my parents to let me take a ballet class. I can’t remember what prompted the need, but I recall asking, begging, pleading. They finally succumbed. I loved everything about it: the pink slippers, the tights, the teachers, the studio, the music, the smells, the other dancers, and of course the movement. And come on, what little girl doesn't love a tutu!

In my teens I was in a pre-professional program where I danced 5 days a week – ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and even some more “modern” styles (at the time it was break dancing). I learned to be courageous - taking leaps and trying new things with my body. Going on auditions with people that I thought were so much better than me and learning to have faith in myself and my ability to do it.

I danced well into my late teens and then when we moved across the country I stopped. The dance lessons at least.

In my twenties, I continued to dance. Then it was in nightclubs not dance studios. I would hit the dance floor when I entered and barely leave until the end of the night.

Then kids, work, life took over. I stopped dancing. I then watched my daughter and nieces dance.

On my fortieth birthday last year, I decided to give myself a special gift. I went to Kripalu for a week to attend JourneyDance™ teacher training. It was a magical week that reminded me of my love for dance. It connected me to my true Self. Since then I have tried to dance every week, whether at home or out. 

In September, I went a step further and signed up for an adult intermediate ballet class. It was my first ballet class in twenty years. And I love it. Of course, my body doesn’t quite move the way it used to. My brain remembers the moves but the body doesn’t quite get the message. But it doesn’t matter. Every week I get stronger and better. And most importantly, I love it for the same reasons I did when I was seven: the pink slippers, the tights, the studio, the piano, and the beautiful movements.  It fills me with joy.

The process has taught me so much about myself. Life is so often like a great ballet dance. The better the dancer is – the more graceful and beautiful – the stronger she is. It takes great strength, agility, courage, faith and commitment to be so graceful.

I have fallen in love all over again. This time, I am holding onto it.

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

Saturday 26 November 2011

Success by Valarie Budayr

Photo by Valarie Budayr

"To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Valarie Budayr is the founder of Audrey Press and author of the book The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden. 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.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Grounded by Meghan Genge

"There is a lot to be said for pinning things to the earth so they don't follow us around. There is a lot to be said for laying them to rest." - Clarissa Pinkola Estes

DSC02144 copy 
 You are grounded.

Do you hear me?

All of you.

All of the books that are whispering to me that they have the answer to all of my problems, but make me feel like a failure for not reading/ finishing/ doing them: you are grounded.

All of the clothes in my drawers that are sighing about the day that I will fit into them again, making me feel like a failure for not being thin: you are grounded.

All of the food that I am 'supposed' to eat because it'll make me healthy and all of the eating plans I have made and failed at following, all of the diets I have tried and also failed at that made me feel like a pathetic fatty: you are grounded.

All of the emails I have not written back to, all of the phone calls I have forgotten to make/ not felt up to making that have made me feel like a bad friend: you are grounded.

All of the projects I have thought about starting that I haven't grabbed with both hands, all of the guilt I have from when I have watched Lost instead of grabbing my creative dreams, and all of the feelings of inadequacy I carry from comparing myself to other people/ bloggers/ writers: you are grounded.

All of the crap in my head about not being a good enough wife because I am not currently a sex/ domestic/ intellectual goddess: you are grounded.

We're done. Do you hear me? I refuse to play with you anymore. You are too heavy to carry and frankly, I am bored of you. In fact, I think that the weight I try so hard to shed might be made up of you. So you are grounded for the forseeable future. You are not welcome anymore. I am locking you in the spare room and leaving you there until I decide what to do with you.

I am not sorry.

Megg is a writer, a seeker, and a believer in magic.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Take a Step, Any Step by Andrea Schroeder

Creative Visualization is when you visualize, by creating a picture in your mind's eye, whatever you want - your Creative Dream Come True.

Creative Visualization is an important tool for bringing dreams to life.

It puts you into a space of feeling like it's already real. This is so important because that feeling can help guide you along the path as you create the dream for real in your life.

It puts you into the perspective of living with the Creative Dream as your reality. Which can give you so many clues and ideas about how to actually get there!

Einstein said that you can't solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it.

Your consciousness now, you-who-you-are-today, simply can't know the whole story about how to get there. Creative Visualization puts you in the position of already being there. So now you are in the consciousness of the Dream Come True. Now you are you-who-lives-with-the-Dream Come True. Now you are in a place where you can access the whole story about how to get there.

When you see yourself living your dream in a Creative Visualization, it helps you to develop your belief and faith that your dream is possible for you. When you really believe that your dream is possible you find a way to make it happen.

Creative Visualization is all about the inner game of bringing your Creative Dreams to life.

The inner game of bringing your Creative Dreams to life is mostly about shifting your beliefs about what is possible for you. You aren't going to bring this dream to life until you believe that it's possible.

Once you've won the inner game, you've still got the outer game to play. You've still got to do the work and take the steps and make it happen - but all of that gets so much easier when you've won the inner game first.

Learning how to do Creative Visualization is very simple with this Guided Meditation I made. Press play, close your eyes and listen.
(This is one of the six guided meditations from the Creative Dream Incubator e-course.)

I'd love to hear about your experiences with it.

Andrea Schroeder is a Creativity + Meditation Teacher, Healer Artist + Magic Maker. You can find her in the Creative Magic Academy.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Take Your Partners, Please by Amy Palko

Photo by _Teb

Take Your Partners, Please (mp3)

I remember moving across the dancefloor, linseed oil
glissando, your hand pressing into the small of my back,
holding me tight,
holding me close.
We two stepping in time,
feet moving in tandem,
take in the expanse of the ballroom,
avoiding other couples less agile,
less graceful, less passionate than we.
The twirls require epic endurance.
1,2,3,4, then sweeping into swift polka for another count of 1,2,3,4
and then back into hold.
My breathing is heavy and laboured,
while my cheeks are pinkroses flushed.
Whereas you – you are hardly breaking a sweat.
You seem so in control, so steady, so constant…
and I…am…breathless…
Giddy and breathless.
Giddy and breathless and so in love with you that it feels like our first dance together and I am a girl of just 18, naive, enraptured and true.
Our first time moving to the music,
our bodies held close,
our scents mingling and our eyes: locked.
The world retreats around us and the music fades
until I cannot hear it anymore.
All I can hear is the thud of my heart
as it tries to catch up to the beat of the band.
It’s like no-one else exists.
Like we’re dancing in a snowglobe – sectioned off in a bubble of glass,
unaware that a world beyond our togetherness exists.
Our problems,
our troubles,
our cares
ceased to matter the moment we assumed our position.
And now, the dance comes to a close
and the sheer joy of being transported starts to fade.
Holding hands, we make our way back to our seats.
No sooner have we sat down
than the caller announces the next dance.
Our eyes connect and we speak without words.
Will you dance?
With you, my darling,

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 Bloom by Moon, an online learning community of women exploring goddess myths and moon cycles through story, journalling, visualisation and creative exercise.

Friday 18 November 2011

Big Steps, Little Steps, No Steps & Leaps by Angel Young

As I’m writing this post I keep changing my tactic, trying to see it from different points of view, shifting perspective. This, I must confess to you (and to myself) is because I am not at all easy with this part of the process.

In truth I am naturally a very rash person - a ‘leap at will’ person - but also quite an intuitive person. However I had a very sensible upbringing. It seems these two forces are not mutually reconcilable. Here is the crux of the problem for many creative types - their heart is clear, but the ol’ how will I fund this / can I live on a quarter of my income / this is foolishness, grelims kick in and I, for one, am often sunk by them.

I think the only sensible response to this is dream big, dream creatively, but plan sensibly, with little steps. This is the negotiated settlement I have managed to agree with the warring factions in my head. Effectively small steps, baby steps. Then the dreamer knows you are moving in the right direction, albeit slower than you really want, but on the other hand you are not jeopardising your house and food and heating bills in the process. It’s an uneasy truce. But it’s a start.

And that is enough - to start - to keep taking those steps. A leap is exciting and the danger exhilarating, but as I get older and have more commitments I find I don’t always have that luxury. But it doesn’t mean I’ve given up. On the contrary I am more committed than ever to my dreams, in spite of the doubts, in spite of my desire to leap - I walk the line, because at the moment that’s necessary. And now, as I’m writing this, I accept that this is an ok place to be - the place to be - and my anxiety about my lack of leaping evaporates.

So be peaceful with your own style. It might be leaps, it might be pauses that keep you in a duff job for far longer than you want. But keep dreaming - because that is at the heart of all the steps we make.

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

Wednesday 16 November 2011

First Step by Ginny Lennox

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.” Ayn Rand

When I saw this quote I thought it was perfectly aligned to what I was reading in chapter seven of The Artist’s Way. In this chapter on connection, the subject of perfectionism was touched upon. Julie Cameron believes that as we struggle to be perfect we actually stop ourselves from moving forward. In trying to make things better and better and by doing them over and over again, we become stuck. It is easy for me to see this in others but more difficult to see this trait in myself. But if I am honest with myself and now the world, there are times that I have not moved forward or became stuck because I was afraid my story or picture or painting would be viewed by others as “not good enough”.

Since this is something I don’t want to happen again, I took a look at my life and how I handled things to become unstuck, to get rid of that voice that said I couldn’t do it or that my work wasn’t good enough. For me the answer is to take action. It means to pick up the phone and ask for the job, to send out the email with a suggestion on how I can help, or to display the painting or picture on a prominent wall in my house. I haven’t always gotten the job or my suggestions weren’t always received with open arms but I did become unstuck and I did begin to move again. I am not a person who takes giant steps all at once. I usually take one small step at a time and then I watch to see what happens. This works for me. Something else might work for you. But I do believe that the key to moving forward is taking that first, second, and third step and then watching to see what happens. Sometimes you get the answer you are waiting for right away. Sometimes it takes hundreds of more steps or maybe a giant leap! But for me life is all about taking the first step and moving forward. Won’t you join me? I’d love to know what first, second or third step you are taking today!

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.

Monday 14 November 2011

Creative Dreams and Money (raw beginnings) by Kelly Besecke

I want to write to you about money and creative callings. But this topic is so full and so present for me that my thoughts and questions don't yet cohere into anything like a focused blog post. The place to begin, then, is with my disparate thoughts and questions. For now, I've organized them just enough to give you some broad categories. Please chime in! What are your thoughts and experiences on any of these topics, or on the broad topic of money and creative dreams?

The Day Job

  • Day jobs and the creative process. Creativity happens during down time, when our minds are free to wander. We get our best ideas during breaks from periods of focused effort. We work hard on our creative project, and then we take a nap or a shower or a walk, and ideas come to us. But when we’re working a day job, our minds can end up devoting all that great unconscious creative energy to the concerns of the day job rather than to our own creative projects. Creative work, then, requires us to free our minds from our day jobs. It requires us to take a mental break from our paid work, then shift focus to our creative project, then take a break from it to allow our ideas to gestate, then return to focused work on our creative project, and then return to our day job. How do we manage our lives so that we can do all that?
  • The happy day job. How do we find or create day jobs that we love, that feed our creative lives, or even day jobs that we just like well enough and that don’t take away from our creative lives?
  • Self-employment as a day job. If you’re self-employed in your day job, how does that affect your ability to pursue a separate creative calling?
  • Distributing our energy. We can put our energy into finding or creating or developing or tailoring our day jobs so that they support us financially and creatively. And we can put our energy into developing our creative careers so that we can earn money from them. And we can put energy into actual creativity—writing, painting, dancing, making music, however we express ourselves creatively. How do we decide where to focus our attention on any given day, week, month, or year?

Making Money from Creative Work

  • Money dreams. "Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow." How has this dream played out for you?
  • Creating and business. If you’re trying to earn money from your creative work, how do you manage the different requirements of creating your art, music, or writing versus running a business that sells your art, music, or writing?
  • Different logics. Often, being in business involves being strategic and goal oriented. We might develop marketing strategies, work to establish ourselves as leaders, set goals, and prioritize sales. The creative process often involves a more process-oriented logic: we follow the muse, go where the project leads, do what's intrinsically motivating, and allow things to unfold naturally. When does it make sense to follow which kind of logic?
  • Self-employment as a creative worker. How do we learn how to sell our creative work and manage a business built around our creative work?
  • Hiring help. When do we hire help with the business side of creativity, and what kind of help do we hire?

Money, Creativity, and the Life Cycle

  • Waiting for retirement. What happens when you postpone seriously pursuing your creative work until retirement?
  • Parenting. If you’re pursuing a creative calling, keeping a day job, and parenting, then you’re working three careers. How do you manage?
  • Gender, marriage, and family. What’s it like to pursue a creative calling as a single/married woman/man with/without children?
  • Age, creative work, and money. What’s involved in being a "starving artist" in your 20s versus in your 40s or your 60s?
  • Different strategies for different parts of the journey. How do we structure our creative careers differently as our lives change? For example, at different points of our lives, we might pursue a creative calling full time, we might go into debt to support a creative calling, we might work unrelated day jobs, or we might pursue careers that put our creative skills and talents to work on other people’s projects.

Struggle and Costs

  • Debt. When do we go into debt to pursue our creative dreams? What kind of debt do we accrue? How do we manage debt?
  • Managing time and energy. Pursuing a creative calling and a day job means pursuing two careers, in addition to our personal lives. How do we manage our time and energy so that we’re meeting our needs and staying happy and healthy?
  • Financial worry. When our creative callings cost money, or send us into debt, or entail the uncertain income and increased costs of self-employment, we can get into a habit of worry. What do we do about this?
  • Learning by example. Sometimes, the stories we hear about creativity and money run to extremes: it’s all either “starving artists” or “the universe pays me to do what I love.” But many creative people’s journeys are more complex than this. What true stories have you heard? What stories could you tell?
  • Compromise. Sometimes we compromise our creative dreams for increased financial stability. Sometimes, we compromise our financial security for the sake of our creative dreams. Our day jobs may feed our creative work or take away from our creative work or both. How much of these different kinds of compromise is wise? How much is necessary?
  • Work that costs money. While we hope to make money from our creative work, initially it often costs money, and this period of investment can go on for a long time. How do we decide how much money to invest in our creative dreams?
  • Faith and trust. What roles do faith and trust play in the serious pursuit of a creative calling? How do you nurture your faith? What enables you to trust? Are you ever reluctant to trust that things will be okay? Is it ever unwise to act on faith? Are you ever better off not trusting and not having faith?

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

Saturday 12 November 2011

Looking Under The Hood When The Dream Stalls by Helen Yee

Last last week I realized that I have not worked as consistently as I would have liked with my composing project. It made me uneasy because I had just felt like I had hit my stride, and yet here I was, stalled.

Somehow, instead of my more typical reaction, criticizing myself and labeling this as failure and proof that I'm never going to succeed at composing music, I wanted to look at this as an opportunity to learn what works for me. I wanted to pull over to the side of the road, open up the hood and look inside. What are the things that support working on my project and what doesn't?

I decided to ask two questions: Why has my project stalled, and what might I do differently?

It is more challenging to write when one's time is being pulled in different directions: the everyday life stuff, commitments to other music making endeavors, having house guests for a few days. What could I change? To be honest, I couldn't have done any work while hosting visitors so I gave myself a pass for those days. But for the other days I could see I might need to establish some kind of routine. For instance, I've noticed that once I'm at the desk with my tools around me and I begin, the creative process starts rolling easily. It doesn't seem to take much more than telling myself I'll only spend a short time on it, and (surprise, surprise) that timer is beeping in a blink and I wish I had more minutes remaining.

Or sometimes, my project stalls because it just doesn't feel fun anymore, especially when it seems I'm not making enough progress, or fast enough progress. I'm slogging away and I only move an inch, and I can't be so sure that's even an inch in the right direction! What might I do differently? I try to trick myself into making the work feel more like play. Putting aside pre-planning, relying on following curiosity and intuition might help me reduce the pressure of trying to produce a "great" work. It might mean finding some tools and methods that allow for more spontaneity. But I've also discovered that maybe I need to find tools that are more fun and inspiring for me to work with. It is like a garden tool that doesn't fit one's hand properly.

If the tool isn't a good fit the gardener winds up with muscle strain and blisters, the time creeps along slowly and the work of weeding seems interminable. But if she finds the tool that fits her hand, using it is a pleasure and the tool almost seems to do the work by itself. Or maybe making working on my dream more fun and pleasurable means taking the work to a cafe, or sprucing up my desk area. I believe the key is to keep trying different things.

I don't know yet how the experiment with establishing a routine to help me arrive at the desk ready to create will go. I don't yet know yet what the tools and methods that fit best in my "hand" are. What I do know is just by changing my approach from seeing "failure" to looking into how I can improve my creative commitment and process, I am already declaring to myself that my creative dream is a priority in my life. It is worth taking a look under the hood and starting up again when it stalls.

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.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Easily Distracted by Shiny Objects or Projects... by Glenda Myles

How often have you met someone and asked: “How are you doing?” to get the response, “Things are crazy. Oh my goodness I am so busy.” We are all busy. This sense of busyness is often distracting. We think we are doing so much but yet when we consider what we are doing and what we are accomplishing there is often quite a gap.

It’s not hard to fill up our time in our day, week, or month. It’s actually very easy. Have you ever had one of those weeks? You sit back on the weekend and wonder where the week went, but then can’t really think of anything that you even accomplished? The difficult part is not filling up our day, but focusing our energy on our goals.

I suspect that we all have a part of a project that we find interesting and that which we find difficult. Some people find getting started hard but once they start they can push through. For myself, I find getting started easier but it’s the pushing through to the end that I find difficult. I like new ideas and new projects. I like taking the concept and creating a plan to make is a reality. As a result, I often get distracted from my goals when a new idea or project comes up. The new shiny project gets my attention more often than not.

Here are some strategies I have been using.

1.    Focus: Be clear on your goals and strategies to win
  • I keep track of my monthly goals that align with my annual goals. Weekly, I review these goals in my planner asking what I I did last week that aligned with my goals and what I plan to do in the next week.
2.    Space: Clear the schedule
  • It’s important to say no. This was a lesson, a hard lesson, that I learned this year. I had to give up some things that were important to me in order to give myself the space to work on my goals.
3.    Question: Will this move me forward?
  • It often very difficult especially for people like me that are attracted to the shiny new project to say no. I have tried to find space before I say yes or no to something – to consider is this aligned with my goals? If not, will it help me get to where I want to be? Will it bring me joy? Will it fill me with something that is missing?
This year, I have been trying to constantly recalibrate myself to get back on track. The reminders: what are my goals and are my actions in alignment with those goals.

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

Tuesday 8 November 2011

The "A" Student by Valarie Budayr

What would you do today if you knew you would not fail?

Many years ago the above question was written on a huge sign hanging above the doorway to my daughter’s kindergarten class. “Wow”, I thought, what a great way to start going to school. The teacher, before even meeting my daughter had already given her an “A” for the rest of her life. She could not fail when everyone around knew her already to be a success.

That was 19 years ago and the young girl has grown up into a beautiful woman and filled with success.

Over the last year I’ve had many creative and financial decisions to make. After writing several successful blog posts about the little fox family living in my yard, I decided to write a book about it. Should I publish traditionally or should I start a publishing house and publish my own book? One of the scariest moments was answering this question. I decided to start a publishing company but that came after I consciously decided what type of journey I wanted to take. I didn’t want to be rejected 200 times, or find an agent, or have my ideas completely rearranged for the benefit of a corporation. Once I made the decision to publish independently and started moving towards the goal of my printed book my fear subsided.

Ah yes, my fear subsided until I was actually holding the book in my hand. After that initial thrilling moment of holding my sweet little book in my hands passed by fear, and I mean big fear set in. The foremost question in my mind was “Who is going to buy this book?” At that time I had a few thousand copies sitting in a warehouse. My stomach lurches just thinking of that moment.

Over the next couple of days I remembered the quote at the beginning of this post and that’s when I decided to give myself an “A” and know that I had already accomplished my goal and I had not failed and I could not fail. Amazing what this little change in perception did for me. No longer did those little bumps in the road seem so daunting, they were merely learning opportunities.

So what next, I still had a few thousand copies of this book sitting around. I wrote a letter to myself stating how I had achieved my “A” in book marketing and sales. Step by step I detailed with great clarity, in the past tense, how many copies of the books I had sold, where I sold them, who bought them, the wonderful people I had met, the inspirations for new books, a community of liked minded authors etc. It was a love letter to my book and to myself. At the top of that letter I dated it 6 months ahead from the day I was writing. Every morning before even getting out of bed I would read my love letter to myself, my “A” letter.

This month is the 6th month since writing that letter. I’ve sold all of my books, ordered the second printing, I’ve met the most incredible people, am working on the 2nd edit of my next book and have been welcomed by many communities. Everything in the “A” letter has come true through my constant efforts of believing I am an “A” student, and doing what “A” students do, I work hard and know that I can do anything as long as I believe that I cannot fail.

What does success look like to you?
  • Write yourself an “A “ letter. What and how did you accomplish your goal?
  • Start with little steps towards reaching your ultimate goal.
  • When something isn’t working, take a step back and ask yourself if there are other ways this could be done.
  • Every time you accomplish one step in your goal, celebrate.
  • Be thankful for everything including the frustrations. The quote says you cannot fail not that you wouldn’t be frustrated. Frustration is a way of giving up resistance, making room for the new to come in.
  • Once you’ve reached your goal set another one. Now you are a master and know how to make your dreams come true.

Here’s wishing you many enjoyable and creative moments along your path.

Valarie Budayr is the founder of Audrey Press and author of the book The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden. 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.

Sunday 6 November 2011

Big Fat Failure by Meghan Genge

"Acting on your own behalf is about slowly becoming a person you can count on." - Geneen Roth

my feet

Go gently.

There is a tender soul there.

They are doing the best they can, but they can't see that.

They can't see the path that is spiraling around ahead of them, bringing them closer and closer to where they want to be.

They only see that they aren't getting there.

They only see the times that they didn't follow through with their plan or didn't listen to their inner voice. They only remember eating the world and sleeping through and letting fear be the boss. They only remember that they somehow let themselves down.

They only see that they are a big fat failure.

They don't see the tender human being who is doing the best they can. They don't see that everyone else is struggling too. They don't see that other people sleep in and eat the world and don't write 10,000 words a day or have perfectly clean houses or perfect marriages or easy lives.

They don't see that they are beautiful and getting there.

Go gently.

There is a tender soul there who is learning their lessons slowly.

They don't see that every step forward that they do take is worth five steps back.

They don't see the other people who are looking at them and wondering how they got to be so wonderful.

They don't see that they shine.

Go gently.

Megg is a writer, a seeker, and a believer in magic.

Friday 4 November 2011

the in between time by Kimberly LeClair

I used to always think things like “I should do _____, it would be so fun” (fill in the blank with some exciting creative project) and then never do it.
Something has changed.

Now, when I have an idea I’m doing it. I’m actively engaged in several projects, have completed some and am happy with how they worked out. I have energy to keep going.

And ... I have no idea how to feel or think about myself at all.

It’s actually very very strange....

I know that as humans when we go thru transitions and periods of change our inner identity shifts and we have corresponding emotions. The image of the trapeze artist as she lets go of one bar and hasn’t quite caught the next one - the moment of raw terror when the man loses his job and doesn’t have a new one yet - the feelings we all get when we suffer a loss and we keep expecting to see our loved one in the old familiar places but they aren’t there. I’ve heard about these transitory times before, I’ve even had some of my own experiences.

But I still feel really weird. There’s a void there, I feel it on the inside - I don’t quite know how to talk about what I’m doing - the brain structures, the language, they aren’t quite there yet. And something else --- I’m aware of some really old inner demons knocking on the door of my psyche. Lots of inner chatter about how none of this is really possible, how I’m really not a very good person at all, how I will never be able to move forward and do bigger things, how at any moment the entire world will start laughing in unison.

So this in between time, it’s tough....really tough... My hope is that as I keep moving forward, keep doing what I have energy to do that I will eventually feel Stronger in this New Life. I will eventually have more Integrity on the Inside, talking about things will get easier again, I will have a better sense of who I am again.

Until then, I’m positive that I need support structures on the outside to keep reminding me that I’m on the right path, that I’m actually still here and a complete person and all will be well. I need to be honest with others about what is going on for me, as best I can, to keep any gnarly knots of shame from growing. I need my True Friends. People who can simply say “of course this is what you should be doing!” -- That statement is like a lifeboat right now.

As I write this the word Hope is standing out for me - in this in between time Hope is there, hope that there is a time when this will all feel more solid, when I will feel more Solid again.

Hope and maybe Faith and Trust too....and True Friends --- these are my companions, my lifelines, during this in between time.

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 one of her other adventures -- MoveJoyUs or fitness for mere mortals.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Beauty and Bread by Tammy Durham

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. --John Muir

We spent a day a few weeks ago in Muir Woods on the Northern California coast. We arrived into the woods very early in the morning before almost all of the other visitors arrived. (It is always quite crowded with people.) Because we were so early, we were able to walk through this amazing stand of giant redwood trees dedicated to the amazing John Muir without any human sounds, other than our own footfalls.

During this time, I realized that this was something I have been missing in my life since we left our beloved Oregon coast to move to California for my husband’s job. In Oregon, we were surrounded by this amazing natural beauty all the time. We looked out on Devil’s Lake from our little apartment, and the ocean was a short half mile away.

Since moving, we have had to seek out beauty. It’s around, but we’re not right there in it. And I think that has had a very negative effect on my psyche. The move to California has been a difficult transition for me, and in moving, we (my husband and I both) have learned that Oregon is where we want to be, actually NEED to be. But, as we are currently NOT there, I need to find ways to feed my soul.

The time in Muir Woods was actually healing and energizing. I reveled in the silence, and it felt meditative. We saw three different bucks grazing around. It rained (which was definitely welcome!) and the sound of the drops falling through the trees, the light mist on our faces… made for a perfect experience.

And just a couple weeks later, we ventured to Yosemite National Park. It was another wonderful experience that fed our souls. There were quite a few people around, but it wasn’t over crowded, so we were able to take in all of the beauty. (It was another rainy day, oddly enough – perfect!)

So, though we don’t love where we live, we are finding ways to feed our souls as John Muir so elegantly put it. (And he was speaking of the places we’ve been able to visit!) As I’ve felt quite in a funk lately, this was such a needed revelation for me. My creativity and energy seem to be somewhat revved up following both of these adventures too! We are planning another early morning visit to Muir Woods next weekend!

Where do you find the beauty you need to go along with your bread? How do you feed your soul? Does communing in nature help you find your center and get back on track? How have you found ways to help yourself out of funks or blue places in life?

Tammy is an artist using many mediums to create and a web designer/editor by trade. She is the owner of Off-Center Studio.

Monday 31 October 2011

Bedtime Story: Wings by Meghan Genge

white feather web 

When she gave herself time to sit and think about it, she wondered if perhaps there were other people who also had them. They were a bit of a nuisance at times. Sleeping on her back had become a distant, hazy memory. When she drove her car she had to put the seat so far back to get herself in that the seat belt barely reached around her. On every journey she could feel them straining against the leather. They wanted to know why she bothered driving at all.

The longer she had them, the bigger and brighter they seemed to get. But that wasn't all. They had begun to get demanding. "Fly," they would whisper whenever she chose to walk somewhere.

"I can't," she'd whisper back through gritted teeth. "People aren't supposed to fly. I'd attract too much attention."

"Fly!" They demanded as she waited in long lines. "Fly!" They would sing as she ran through the park.

But she could not listen to them. People didn't fly. People were supposed to stay with their feet firmly on the ground.

But sometimes, late at night when the world was asleep, she would take off the disguise of ordinary human clothing and let them out for a stretch. Then and only then they would dream together of everything she could be. Her dreams dripped from the tips of them in swirls of colour and ink and light. In the privacy of her room she existed in a world of possibility and potential. Then, creativity appeased, they would fly together as high as the moon and laugh at all of the ways that she had tried to keep herself small.

In the morning she would pretend again that they weren't there. Occasionally she thought she glimpsed a pair under the clothes of a stranger, but she realized that other people must be as good at hiding them as she was.

Someday maybe she would be brave enough to show them to the world. Someday maybe she would show everyone else the way. But in the meantime she would keep them to herself, no matter how much they whispered, no matter how much they itched and no matter how much they wanted her to fly.

She would keep her secret because she remembered a time that was much, much worse. She could remember a time when they hadn't realized that they were there at all.

xo megg

Megg is a writer, a seeker and a believer in magic.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Am I following my bliss if I don't feel blissful? by Kelly Besecke

Many of us who are following a creative calling resonate with Joseph Campbell's advice to "follow your bliss." But following your bliss doesn't always feel blissful. How do you know when you're on the right track and when it's time to rethink?

I used to be a professor, and now I'm involved with online communities of people who pursued an academic calling and for different reasons are reconsidering that path. Many of these people have come to resent the "follow your bliss" mantra. It was given to them as career advice, and many of them heard it like this: "You're passionate about French literature (or East Asian history, or ethical philosophy), so pursue that. Keep studying that, get your PhD, and a career as a professor will come together for you." They followed that advice, imagining a glorious future immersed in the life of the mind. But then things started to go wrong. Maybe graduate school was a nightmare. Maybe the academic job market was so tight that after years of trying, they were never able to get a job as a professor. Maybe they were able to get that job, but found themselves miserable in it. Maybe they eventually lost interest in their field of study and felt stuck in a career that didn't speak to them any more. Where was the bliss they were promised? Wouldn't they have been happier if they had done something more practical?

Following a creative calling, too, can bring up questions about the bliss factor. Maybe I love making art, or writing, or singing, but to pursue it seriously, I have to compromise other things that make me happy. How much sacrifice is worth it? A touring musician might give up the stability of home and family to keep on pursuing a musical calling. An artist might work a string of day jobs that drain her energy to support the art that feeds her soul. A writer might sacrifice her personal life so that she can work full time and finish her novel on nights and weekends. An actor might find himself in middle age and without any kind of financial stability because he prioritized his unpaid or poorly paid creative work.

So what becomes of bliss? Is following your bliss a cruel joke?

The only answer I know is to use that word "bliss" as a kind of navigational tool, like a compass. We have to keep on returning to it, keep checking in, keep adjusting our course. We have to remember what following our bliss really means--to remember that French literature, or being a professor, or publishing a novel, or making a living as actor, is not the real goal. The real goal really is bliss: happiness, creative fulfillment, self-expression, and a rich life that nourishes all of who we are.

So we make sacrifices to pursue what we love--we take risks, we give up resources, we endure training, we confront fears. But we consistently check in with ourselves. Am I happy? Do I feel like myself? Do I have what I want and what I need? I know what I wanted a year ago, but what do I really want now? And if things feel off, then we adjust course.

Adjusting course probably doesn't mean giving up the things you love. Instead, it means finding ways to have all the things you love. So you keep on reading French literature, or teaching, or making art, or acting. But you don't sacrifice the rest of your life to do that--you remember that you're a whole person with your own unique human needs, and you tend to all of them. And you don't assume that there's only one way to be happy doing what you love, or only one career path or lifestyle that will allow you to do what you love. You use your creativity and your support system to make for yourself a life that incorporates all the things you need and love. It's hard work. But if you keep on adjusting course, keep on checking in with yourself and taking your needs seriously, and keep on making real happiness your priority, then maybe the bliss will be in the journey.

What are your experiences following your bliss?

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