Entries Tagged as: declutter

Positive Priorities

March 13th, 2009, Comments (17)

The creative process gives back tenfold. It is by definition abundant and unending.
~ Cathleen Rountree

I really love the latest chapter in The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women, which I'm reading with Jamie Ridler's wonderful book group. The chapter is all about living in abundance and that is what I'm all about right now.

Abundance is one of the things we talked about a lot at the retreat I attended last weekend. While I don't agree with all the Law of Attraction stuff out there, I think some of it is valid. I believe in a mix of articulating your vision for your life, calling it out (in the form of writing or vision boards or whatever works for you), and then taking action. The action piece is important.

Since leaving the retreat, I've been spending a half-hour every day clearing clutter in my studio/office space. I know a lot of artists are clutter collectors and I am definitely one of those people who has trouble throwing things away. But I also know that when I'm able to release clutter, I feel more clear and more open to bringing good things into my life.

I tend to get overwhelmed easily, so the idea of clearing all my clutter tends to just freeze me up and I do nothing, but doing it at a set time (I chose 11-11:30 a.m.) and for just a half hour (set a timer), really helps me out. It's along the same lines as SARK's micromovements, but having the exact time set up helps too. Accountability also helps me, so knowing that I was going to check in with my fellow retreat participants helped keep me on track too.

I love 12 Secrets' author, Gail McMeekin's explanation of abundance,

When we are in touch with true abundance it permeates the fabric of our lives. It includes passion, both romantic and creative; positive relationships with people, animals, and nature; life experiences you crave and enjoy; personal and professional challenges and growth; and individual moments to savor. Abundance invites us to live the life we desire instead of settling for less.

Yes! Part of inviting abundance also includes getting rid of "scarcity thinking," releasing things we no longer use, no longer fit, or no longer love (or maybe never loved, but held onto out of guilt!) Christine Kane has a great post about the reasons we cling to clutter and how to let go. I recently took Jennifer Hofmann's office spa day workshop and one of the things she talked about asking yourself, with each item in your space, "do you love this and does it support you?" This is such a beautiful, gentle way of making choices for the stuff in your space.

I also loved what Gail McMeekin had to say about Positive Priorities,

...a life of Positive Priorities - life choices that express who we are and what we want for ourselves - is in itself a creating act....own up to what it is that truly nourishes you.

Indeed. So, for me and my de-cluttering escapade, that has meant getting rid of the cheap-o plasticy shoes I bought at Tar-jay that feel awful on my feet. It also means, replacing the office chair that is literally falling apart (anyone have any recommendations for an awesome office chair?) It also means, surrounding myself with things that bring me delight, burning delicious smelling candles (I love the ones from Zena Moon!), and wearing clothes that fit, feel great, and that I love.

What are the positive priorities in your life? What makes you come alive? For me, daily creative expression is huge. Laughter is essential, as is movement (getting to the gym, doing yoga, dancing in my pajamas, etc...). Other priorities include time to myself, connection with people I love, learning, and time in nature. I'm also learning that my physical environment is something I want to make a priority and bit by bit, I'm making changes to reflect that.


Hey, there's going to be a super fun celebration call with the 12 Secrets book club and I'm going to be on it with lots of inspiring women! You can sign up for that here.

Also, be sure to sign up for my free Intro to Virtual Art Picnics call right here!

Honoring Your Inspiration

January 16th, 2009, Comments (38)

The second chapter of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women, which I'm reading with a book group here, is all about honoring your inspiration. This is so important and part of the reason why I keep sketchbooks within arm's reach at all times. It may drive the hubster a little nuts because of the excess of paper I have around me, but if I'm having lots of ideas, it's so helpful for me to get them down. For one, I feel better after releasing the ideas from my head and I also capture lots of bits and pieces that I might have forgotten had I not taken the time to sketch, write, or scribble some stuff out.

There's a lot packed into this particular chapter, it ranges from carving out a sacred space, to creative ritual, to play! Yes, according to author, Gail McMeekin, play is an important factor for us creative people! So for you Creative Every Day Challenge participants who have been resisting getting playful, now's the time to give it a go! I'm planning some posts for next week about how to get playful if you're feeling really stuck around it.

At the end of the chapter, there's a challenge about taking a "Creative Style Inventory." I'll share my answers with you here:

  1. When did your creative awakening or reawakening occur? I've always felt like I was a creative person, but there was a period, right after I graduated from art school where I felt a bit dead creatively, like my fire had been put out. It can be hard, especially for us sensitive folks, to go through something like art school and come out the other side feeling good about what we create. I left with the feeling that everything had to be a certain way, a "right" way and as a result, I felt little to no desire to create. Nothing felt good enough. It took me awhile to break free of the art teacher voices I heard in my head when creating. I had to get back to being playful (part of the reason I think play is so important) and I also got back to creating from my intuition (something I'd been discouraged from doing.) I literally got away from the easel and started creating while on the floor, I took classes in intuitive art making, and began to really enjoy the process again. I had to find my way back to the joy in creating, but in a way I'm glad I went through that process as I feel much more in touch with my creative side now than I did before. 
  2. What talents do you have naturally? I think I'm a natural peacemaker, I tend to put people at ease. I'm an artist. I'm good at encouraging others. And I'm naturally silly. :-)
  3. What elements (fire, water, wood, air) draw you toward them? I'm drawn to all of the elements at different times, but I'm drawn most strongly to water. It soothes me.
  4. Where and when do you create? Where and when do you wish to create? I create mostly in my home studio space, but I can create just about anywhere. I create usually in the afternoon and evening and I'm fine with that.
  5. What activates your creative energy, and what drains it? My creative energy is activated by inspiring reading, movement (like taking a walk or yoga), playing, journaling, and taking classes. What drains it is too much time in front of the computer or television, sleeping too long, and overwhelming messes (some mess is o.k., but it can get to a point where I can't handle it anymore.)
  6. Do you use creative rituals? Sometimes. I usually begin creating by closing my eyes, taking a breath, and giving myself permission to make "bad" art. :-)
  7. Does nature influence your creativity? Absolutely! I'm constantly inspired by the forms of nature, the color combinations I see in the world, the cyclic patterns of life. It shows up in my work constantly.
  8. What has been your greatest creative hurdle so far? Probably the one I mentioned in answer to question number 1.
  9. What time of day are you most receptive to inspiration? I don't know that there's a particular time of day...A lot of my ideas seem to come in the evening when I'm feeling a little tired or in the hypnogogic state just before sleep. I think it's because my mind is tired enough to let subconscious imagery slip through which creates some fabulous images for me.

After looking over what I've written, I think what I most need to do is do a little cleaning and clearing in my studio space. I've been slowly tackling it throughout the week, but a more concentrated effort would be a good thing. Makes me want to do one of Jennifer Hofmann's office spa days!


November 10th, 2008, Comments (17)

Today, I decided to play on a piece of watercolor paper. I had cut out a few silhouettes of people from magazines that I thought I might use as stencils, but then the back of one figure had these neat green swirls (I think part of a landscape) on it, so I decided to glue it to the paper, back-side up. I put down some texture with gel medium, let it dry and then came back into it with some fluid acrylic paint and an image started to suggest itself. A bird-like shape was over the woman. The silhouette I had cut out was only a torso and head, so I added black and some gold-green to it to make a dress. I ended up trimming away part of the paper to make this long shape, which I'm liking. The image seemed to be a sort of transformation, as if the woman was becoming a bird. I also saw butterflies in some of the brush strokes, so I'm calling it, "Transform." It's about 6"x11.5" on watercolor paper.

For Soul Coaching today, the exercises involved some cleansing, so I cleaned some areas of my apartment. I especially loved the effect of wiping down our coffee table with some wood cleaner and a rag. Oddly satisfying. And then I took a shower, concentrating on washing away the negative and making room for the positive in my life. The next exercise was about choosing the meaning you give to difficult moments in your life. I feel like I've done a lot of that over the last 10 years, it's what's helped me most when it comes to living a happier life. Not that I don't ever complain or wish certain things hadn't happened in my life. But I understand now, that those difficulties, such as the experience of being molested or the trauma I experienced receiving medical testing for a disease I had as a child or the tendency towards depression, all these things made me who I am today. They brought me to where I am. They made me a stronger and better person. They've made me a kinder, gentler person with more compassion and understanding towards the difficulties others face. They've given me a certain depth of character and perhaps a certain depth to my artwork that other people can relate to. I used to think, "why me?" a lot. But now, not so much. I'm grateful for all the experiences which led me to where I am today and that includes the difficult ones.

Sometimes it seems easier to do this with the most difficult experiences and it's certainly easier with things that have long since passed. For me, it can be harder to do with the smaller things, like not taking someone's actions or words personally or in dealing with a rejection. I might obsess for a day over a harsh word or cool glance before I can let it go. But I do try and see all those little things as part of my path, and not turn them negative. And I try to remember that it's not about me all the time. :-)

And now, I'm off to relax a bit. Hope you're all having a wonderful start to the week!

De-clutter and Dance

November 7th, 2008, Comments (15)

I finished up "Walking in Circles" today. It's about 9"x11" with acrylic paint, ink, gel medium, and a bit of collage on watercolor paper.

It was rather gray out today, but I didn't mind one bit as I spent the day doing some more de-cluttering. Boy oh boy, was I overdo for some clutter clearing! I'm not going to beat myself up about it because, well, I'm making progress, bit by bit. I focused on my desk today, filing my to-be-filed pile and sweeping away the build up of dust around my desk chair. One little corner at a time. Progress feels slow, but excellent. Soul Coaching focused a bit more on de-cluttering today along with a look at how you relax and have fun. I often feel lazy, but I have a lot of trouble doing nothing. Something to look at. I put another ipod session to good use while folding laundry today. Good, loud music can make chores so much more enjoyable! What do you like to listen to when you're cleaning? Do you listen to anything while you create?

I sometimes do and sometimes don't. In the last few months, I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audio versions of the Harry Potter series read by Jim Dale (who is simply awesome.) I loved the books and never really thought about listening to books until recently. I was introduced to the wonders of audio books when a post at Christine Kane's blog convinced me to check out the audio version of Martha Beck's Steering by Starlight (Beck reads her books for the audio versions and she's so funny!) and then branched into the Harry Potter series on the recommendation of Jim Doran, which has been great fun. I find these audio books great company when doing my least favorite chores (like dishes), when I need some convincing to go on a walk, and sometimes when I'm painting and want to shut out the world. I laugh out loud while I listen. :-)

As for music... well, for cleaning purposes I generally want music that's upbeat and fun, sometimes funny and always great to dance to (dancing while you clean is highly recommended.) Today's listening included Weird Al's "Trash Day" (very appropriate), George Michael's "Freedom 90," Supertramp's "Dreamer," Beck's "E-Pro," Destiny's Child's "Lose My Breath," Scissor Sisters' "Music is the Victim," and Prince's "Kiss." Other good ones for shakin' your tush: Missy Elliot's "Work It," Liz Phair's "Whip Smart," Cake's "The Distance," and Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." Well, that gave me an idea...here's a little treat for you. I put together a mix-tape of the songs I just mentioned. Feel free to use while you make art, clean up the house, or dance around in your underwear. Enjoy!

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

Celebrate Every Advance!

November 6th, 2008, Comments (18)

Ah, my migraine left and today felt productive. I did some serious de-cluttering as part of my work with Soul Coaching, choosing a corner of my bedroom that has been bugging me for ages. I put my favorite cleaning mix on my ipod, blasted it loud and got to work, sweeping up the cobwebs and dust, separating out the trash, putting things away, and cleaning the surfaces. It kind of amazed me how much time and energy it took to do this one corner and it was overwhelming if I thought about doing the whole room. But I didn't think about the whole room. Baby steps, baby steps!!! As author Denise Linn suggests, "Celebrate every advance!" Woohoo! I'm celebrating my clean bedroom corner! While cleaning, there were a few funny little synchronicities in the things I came upon, including a list of values I'd written out over a year ago. I need to check that list against the one I wrote this week and see how they match up!

I had fun with some art-making time this evening. I did a small piece on a 4"x4" canvas in acrylics based on a sketch from my sketchbook. I don't always bring my sketches to fruition, so it's nice when a little push gets them done. I'm calling it, "By the Light of the Silvery Moon."

This piece was all play and experimentation. It's not quite done, but I'm liking it. I put two leaves on the image at the end, but they're not attached. I really love the way it's come together. I'm calling it, "Walking in Circles."

In need of some inspiration? Check out Design for Mankind's latest zine! This month, the theme is the handmade market. You can view it for free online or purchase a print copy. If you're looking for something to listen to while you create, check out the latest Craftcast podcast which features an interview with Daniel Vosovic (from season 2 of Project Runway!) who has a new book out called, Fashion Inside Out: Daniel V's Guide to How Style Happens from Inspiration to Runway and Beyond. It sounds like a great read with lots of discussion about the creative process. And I'm sure it's visually inspiring too!

p.s. I love Ugly Betty!

Soul Coaching Day 3

November 4th, 2008, Comments (9)

Suddenly I'm a bundle of emotions. My neck hurts, my head hurts, and my eyes are teary. My day, up til this point was fabulous. I took a long walk to the polls, cast my vote, walked to the post office, and then ate my lunch outside. The weather was simply gorgeous. I picked up some leaves on my way home, I breathed in the air, and relished this lovely November day. I got home and did my homework for the Soul Coaching group which involved doing some de-cluttering. I de-cluttered the bathroom hung up a new shower curtain liner while I was at it. It felt good to this. It did seem to bring a certain clarity to both the physical and mental space I hold. I felt myself releasing some of that mental clutter into the trash as I carried my clutter out of my home. Sometimes sweeping away mental clutter also releases emotions that have been building too. And I made a big realization today, I said something out loud that surprised me a bit, but also felt absolutely true. I realized that I am letting go of the identity I've had of myself as being a "depressed person." I'm not saying that I haven't been depressed. I most certainly have. But someone said to me today that there's a difference between having the symptoms of depression and being a depressed person. Just like having a broken arm doesn't make you a broken arm. It's subtle (to me), but profound to grasp that difference. And I'm slowly getting that.

I'm also feeling quite emotional about the election. All this anticipation and building up. I read this post earlier and got all teary. I've held off from watching the news as it's too early to know anything, but I'll turn it on soon I'm sure. Got to remember to breathe. O.k. I'm off to rest for a bit before making some dinner. Art for the day will be posted later tonight. Toodaloo for now!

Clean and Clear

October 21st, 2008, Comments (5)

Phew! Just did a major clean and clear of the refrigerator and cleaned up the kitchen. It was a quite a job, but I'm glad it's done! And while I'm feeling a bit more clear, there are some things I've been meaning to share:

  • Recently, I noticed that my blog posts were not updating in Bloglines (which is where I attempt to keep up with loads of fabulous blogs.) I did a whole lot of trouble shooting with no luck and then all of the sudden, after about a month, it started working again. I don't know what changed, but I'm sorry for the mix-up. I found that there's a new feed through feedburner which you can subscribe to here. When the other feeds weren't being picked up by Bloglines, that one was working.
  • Denise Linn, author of Soul Coaching has a regular radio program on Hay House Radio. I listened to one today about not taking things personally (there's a link to it if you scroll down the page.) I remember reading about this same topic in The Four Agreements. And it made an impact on me. It relates also to the book I just finished, Loving What Is by Byron Katie. I've been reading Katie's book slowly, trying to digest and take it in. The ideas in it are simple in many ways, but not in others. Very powerful either way and I'll need to continue to process what I read and practice it too.
  • Speaking of coaching, I've been thinking about hiring a life coach for awhile. I know some fabulous women coaches through blogging and I know some people who have benefited from the process. If you have any recommendations or suggestions for me, let me know! 
  • Just for fun: I love I Can Has Cheezburger and all their hilarious cat photos. Browsing their site recently, I noticed that they teamed up with a curator to create a show of LOL Cat artwork! The opening is this Thursday in San Francisco and you can read more about it here and see a sneak preview of the art here.
  • I received a lovely surprise from the incredibly sweet and talented, Jennifer Lee. She sent me a gorgeous card (from my favorite animal artist, Jessie at Stray Dog Arts) and a lovely glass heart from Heart is Hot, a goodwill business that is all about sharing the love, fostering connections, and following your heart. You can also share your stories of connection and track the hearts you purchase, receive, or pass on through their website. So very cool. Thank you Jenn! I feel the love and look forward to sharing it with someone special!

Kitty Cat Dreams and Mermaid Drawings

August 11th, 2008, Comments (7)

Ah, after being home for the weekend, I'm feeling much more rested. I was amazingly exhausted after sleeping a week at my old boss's house. There's something magic about your own bed and I felt like I couldn't get enough rest when I got back to it. All the gray weather we've been having and the abundance of napping fuzz balls, like Tabbers above, is enough to make anyone sleepy. Fortunately, today I felt energized and ready to tackle some things.

I've been drawing a lot in the last week, including these two. The mermaid (above) developed from an image in my sketchbook of a mermaid with waves, a whale, and ship in her hair.  The image below was done on a whim, doodling whatever came to mind.

Last night, while watching the Olympics, I grabbed what was handy, a few mini sharpies that came in a box of new golf balls and some index cards, and did some little drawings. I find mini drawing like this to be oh so relaxing and fun. Sometimes, it gives me ideas for paintings. Other times it gets my creative juices flowing, like a warm up exercise. And sometimes, it's just nice to get some of that creative energy out onto the page, even if it goes absolutely nowhere else.

This afternoon, I spent some time sorting through neglected paperwork. It's odd how you can procrastinate about something for so long and then as soon as you do it, you have immediate relief. Must remember this!!

Well, the snuggly kitties are finally getting to me and I'm feeling a strong desire to curl up with a book and some cute meows. Sasha, is letting me know it's time for bed too. (That's her yawning, even though it looks like she's yelling or laughing hysterically. Hehe)

Wishing you a night full of beautiful dreams.

Steering by Synchronicity

May 20th, 2008, Comments (6)

"By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us,
penetrates us, and molds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible,
whereas in fact we live steeped in its burning layers . . . This palpable
world, which we are used to treating with the boredom and disrespect
with which we habitually regard places with no sacred association, is a
holy place."
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, *The Divine Milieu*

When I start experiencing lots of synchronicity, I have this feeling like I want to share it with everyone, but it's very hard to put into words. Even if I wrote down every little instance of it, it's still hard to get across the feeling that comes along with it. I think of myself as a scientific and spiritual person, with a practical, somewhat skeptical, no-nonsense look at the world, while also having a sense of the mystical undertone to everything. Sounds conflicting, but somehow it isn't. When I try to explain synchronicities, I'm aware of the woo-woo sound of it. But I still see it everywhere. I want to express it somehow, but words escape me. Thank goodness for art, right?

I left a comment on a blog recently about the limitations of language and how that is why art and poetry often seem much more soulful than prose. When we release ourselves of the rules of imagery and language, we can get closer to the heart of what we're trying to express.


Anyways, I've had so many synchronicities around the book, Steering by Starlight, which I just finished listening to on my ipod (and then went out and bought the hard copy of the book with a gift card.) I felt like I needed the written pages because I wanted to re-read passages (which can be far easier than re-winding and trying to find a particular passage in an audio book.) By the way if you do happen to purchase the audio version of this book, you can find the pdf files Beck talks about on her website here. There are definite limits to audio books, I sometimes have trouble absorbing information by just hearing it (the pdfs for this book helped). But the upside is hearing the nuance and tone in an author's voice as they share their book with you. Beck is a wonderful storyteller with a great sense of humor and having her read these stories is a definite bonus. It feels more personal somehow, as if Martha was talking in my ear as I went about daily chores or exercising, and I liked that.   

Some quickie examples of synchronicities here: some of the final words in the book were about neural science and mysticism coming together and then moments later I got a link about neural buddhists in a newsletter from Rob Brezsny. Towards the end, there was a whole section about re-decorating and de-cluttering your home when that has been a big focus of mine while listening to the book. Beyond the synchronicities, I deeply resonated with this book, more than I have with any book in a long time.

The De-Cluttering Continues

May 16th, 2008, Comments (4)

Seems like most of my creative energy has been domestic this week. That's o.k., sometimes you've gotta follow your bliss and this week I've been feeling like a blissful nest maker! Tonight, the hubster and I collaborated on a perfectly light springtime dinner. He prepared sesame crusted swordfish on the grill and fulfilled my request for tomato, basil, and mozzarella, which he arranged beautifully.  The hubster had requested brussel sprouts, so I found a recipe online and again tweaked it slightly (I didn't add any cheese at the end.) The weather was nice enough to eat out on the porch again and everything was SO good!!

A quirky older gentleman came by to purchase my old stereo. Turns out he needed something to play music at his family's summer cottage. Oh, and I forgot to mention another bit of clutter released. I received a gift last year that I simply didn't care for. There was no receipt to exchange it for something else and I couldn't imagine ever using it. However, it was from a family member and the idea of getting rid of it made me feel guilty. So, it moved around the apartment from one corner to another, eventually ending up in a dark cabinet where I didn't have to look at it. Well, in my clutter release, I decided to let it go. I couldn't imagine anyone else wanting it, so I put it next to the kitchen trash to take out the next time I went out. Well, I had someone over the other day who asked, "Are you throwing that out?" I told her yes and explained that I didn't like it. And then she asked if she could have it. Even better! I was quite happy that someone else wanted it. In a bit of synchronicity and as Caroline mentioned in the comments of my last post, this is just the sort of thing that Carla is recommending in her Weekly Wings Challenge.

I'm on a de-cluttering roll! Out of the way clutter! You're no match for me!