Entries Tagged as: energy

Swimming Lessons for Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone

August 12th, 2009, Comments (17)

wip bodyscape
work-in-progress where i'm practicing taking some risks!

The painting above is a work-in-progress, where I'm painting over part of a very old mixed-media piece. I do not know where it's going yet and it's in the stage where every step is a bit of a risk.

As I said at the start of August's move theme for the Creative Every Day Challenge, I also interpret "move" to mean taking risks. To me, risk taking means moving out of your comfort zone into the land of the scary, the exhilarating, the dangerous, and the empowering. I immediately thought of my pal Jessie's Be Brave Challenge and our recent discussion about how sometimes every movement we make as we create can be an act of bravery.

Earlier this week, I went into town to put up some flyers for the Creative Play Workshop I'm leading with my friend Jenn in September. I'm super excited about the workshop and have been happily talking about it online, but putting up flyers in person scares the crap out of me. Don't laugh. Heh. It sounds totally ridiculous when I write it out. I mean, what's so scary about hanging up flyers anyways?

The things is, it doesn't matter how ridiculous your fears seem to you (or to anyone else for that matter), they're your fears and you don't need to be ashamed of them. But once you've noticed them and acknowledged their existance, perhaps you'll want to nudge at those boundaries a bit.

Swimming Lessons

When I was little, I took swimming lessons at a local pond. I wasn't the greatest swimmer and as much as I loved splashing around in the water, sometimes the depths of it scared me. One day, the teachers told us we were going to learn how to dive. We were instructed to tuck our head, point our hands out in front of us, curl our back, and then kind of roll and drop into the water. The pond we swam in was a muddy one with teeny fish swimming around in it. When we stood at the far end of the dock, toes over the edge, all shivering in our little swimsuits, you couldn't see the sandy bottom. All you could see was dark, dark water.

One by one, kids dove off the dock. Some rolled in with grace, natural swimmers. Others belly-flopped. I stood frozen, with my toes curled tight over the wooden edge, staring at the sun reflecting off the water, breathing fast, and not wanting to dive. I didn't want to go into that dark water head first. Time passed. The teachers waited. I just couldn't get myself to step off the edge.

One teacher coaxed me. She then tried counting down, "1,2,3,...go!" I didn't dive. Eventually she pushed me in. That wench. I can laugh about it now, but how many times have you been rudely pushed through your fears? Some people would prefer the push. If that's you, then find someone to push you! You might like that bootcamp exercise class that I tried and despised this year. Heh.

But if you don't like being pushed, there's another more gentle approach.

Stick Your Toes In: You know how when the water's cold, some people will wade in bit by bit and others will just dive in to get the cold over with? Neither way is wrong. Try out both styles and see what works best for you. If the baby step approach works best for you, go with that. Slow steps forward is more than ok. Honor your style of approaching the scary stuff. What teeny-tiny step could you take with something that you're avoiding?

Splash Playfully: Before the swimming lessons, I used to play around in a neighbor's pool. I would never go underwater without plugging my nose because of a few times when I breathed in water and it stung like crazy. But one day, I was playing games with my friends and I ran straight into the water without plugging my nose first. I breathed out and came up for air with no troubles. And just like that I could swim underwater without plugging my nose. What playful or sideways approach could you take with something that's difficult for you?

Treat Yourself: At the pond where I went to swim lessons, there was always a visit from the ice cream truck. I love picking out a treat after a hard day of swimming. When I went to put up flyers this week, I stopped to get my favorite iced tea from Peet's. Sometimes knowing there's a treat at the end of your action, helps you get started. What are some ways you reward yourself?

Spread out Your Towel and Rest: A day of swim and sun would always leave me tuckered out. But I also realized recently that any kind of risk-taking, especially when done in bunches could leave me feeling exhausted. If that's the case for you, put in a little buffer time around activities that stretch your boundaries. Give yourself some space to rest and get rejuvenated. After hanging flyers, I gave myself some time to sit in the air conditioned bedroom and watch Project Runway Canada on youtube (don't tell me who won. I haven't seen the end yet!) Do you give yourself time to relax after you've moved forward on something big?

How's the Water?: After you've completed something that moved you out of your comfort zone, notice how you feel. I often feel super empowered after conquering a fear and it often energizes me to take it one step further or conquer a fear in another area. Other times, I just feel drained. How do you feel after you've taken a risk?

Dive at Your Own Pace: I did eventually learn how to dive gracefully, but not at the pond. I learned in a more comfortable environment (back at the neighbor's pool), without any pressure or pushing. Don't worry so much if you're not moving along with your art, business, or whatever as quickly as you think others around you are. Respect your pace, keep moving forward playfully, and have fun with it. You'll enjoy the journey much more.

Play with moving out of your comfort zone with your art, your writing, your movement this month and let me know how it goes for you!

Moving with the Full Sturgeon Moon

August 6th, 2009, Comments (11)

full sturgeon moon

Last night and tonight are the evenings of the Full Sturgeon Moon. I've come to enjoy making mixed-media vision boards to celebrate along with Jamie Ridler's Full Moon Dreamboard group. For this one, I drew a sturgeon fish, with four moon-like bubbles coming off it. Within the circles, I pasted small circle cut-outs that represent elements I want to bring into my life.

I love that this moon was named for a fish. The other day, Havi posted an exercise from Barbar Sher's Wishcraft in which you choose a favorite color and then list your qualities, speaking as that color. I chose the color blue (go figure, right?) and I wrote:

I am blue.
I am fluid, flowing, calm, yet strong.
I am life. And I am full of life.
I am clear, not just transparent, but clear as in clarity.
I am intuitive. I know things. I trust what I know.
I am gentle, soft, mothering.
But I am also a powerful force. Don't forget it.
I am healing, I hold space, I hold others with love

Among the qualities I listed was fluidity. I realized that I had a strong desire to bring a deeper sense of effortless flow and ease into my life. When I saw that the full moon this month was named after a fish, I knew I had to make a dreamboard around it, something with flowing water to represent the fluid motion that fish, water, and the color blue has; the same fluidity I want to call forth.

I'm also loving how the fluid fish and water fit in with the move theme for the Creative Every Day Challenge this month. (I'm really vibing with this theme!) I'm having little a-ha moments all over the place. I'm noticing the way I'm moving energetically in my life and realizing where I can make adjustments. It's exciting.

How are you moving energetically in your life right now? Is your energy more anxious and frenetic? Does it move in waves like the ocean? Is it more like a still lake?

How would you like to moving through the world? Perhaps you could make a piece of art or write about what energy you'd like to embody more of. Or perhaps you could practice one small movement in the style of energy you want to live in.

Just noticing how you move through your day might be a place to start. In this moment, take a breath and check-in. What's your energy like right now?

Surviving Self-Doubt

July 21st, 2009, Comments (40)

Subway Stories: Orange Line

An artist is the one who can fail and fail and still go on. -Agnes Martin

Self-doubt is something that plagues most creative souls at one time or another. We may be going along, feeling great about our creations, and then something happens that shakes our confidence. Perhaps we get a rejection to a show or someone makes a nasty comment about our work. Perhaps we compare our work to someone else's or our inner critic gets really loud. Or perhaps self-doubt just sneaks up on you out of nowhere, whispers in your ear, and suddenly you'd rather do anything, but make art. Self-doubt feels awful, but it comes up, so how do we move through it and return to our creativity?

Be Gentle: Don't beat yourself up over your self-doubt. It's easy to go there, to think, "Ugh! Get over it already. Stop procrastinating and just do it. Sheesh!" Yelling at yourself may work in the short term, but it usually turns into a viscious cycle of beating yourself up, avoidance, more beating yourself up, followed by procrastination, some more beating yourself up, with a kicker of feeling like dirt. No fun. Instead of going to your drill sargeant voice, try going to your gentle mother voice. Try telling yourself something like, "Hey, it's o.k. that you're doubting yourself right now. It happens. I know you're wonderful. What small step could you take to feel a bit better?"

Keep a Kindness Folder: Sometimes we need to be reminded how fabulous we are. Try keeping an appreciation folder (I keep a folder in my email for just this purpose) where you can collect kind emails, letters, notes, tweets, etc. When you begin to doubt yourself, go to your folder, read a few of the notes you've saved, and soak up the love.

Write a letter to yourself: Feeling appreciation and love from others is wonderful, but we are also capable of giving ourselves love and appreciation. I've found it's helpful if you can write to yourself (maybe your artist self) from your wiser self. You'll find your kind, wise self will know just what to say to lift you up.

Begin with Baby Steps: I mentioned this briefly in the first step, but it's so important that I had to make it its own step. One of the best remedies for self-doubt is action. I prefer to begin with gentle action, action that is full of kindness and permission and playfulness. And the best way to move into action when you're in self-doubt mode is to start small. Start with a doodle on an piece of junk mail, write a silly haiku, dance around your living room, sing in the shower, or play with crayons. Let go of the need to make a masterpiece and for now, for this moment, start with something that brings you delight, one teeny tiny thing.

Remind yourself of your accomplishments: It's easy to forget all that we have already accomplished. Take some time to make a list of how much you're already achieved. Looking back over old diary entries can sometimes help remind me how far I've come. On a smaller scale, you can keep an "already done" list each day to keep track of all the things you've done instead of focusing on what you didn't do.

Keep taking risks: It's amazing to me how despite our self-doubts, we keep putting ourselves out there. And I want to simply encourage you to keep taking those risks, big and small, in your life and in your art. Taking risks helps squash those pesky self-doubts in a powerful way. Your risks may be trying out a new color, learning a new style, reaching out to a fellow artist, submitting your work to a show, posting your work online, or opening up a shop. Not all our risks will have the results we want, but every risk gives us the inner knowing that we are capable of more than we realize.

More help with self-doubt: Re-Thinking RejectionRe-Thinking Success

Meeting Yourself Where You’re At With Art

July 2nd, 2009, Comments (16)

elephant night
elephant night

Art is one of the most soothing things I can do when I'm feeling cruddy. And yet, I still forget or I putter around without picking up the paintbrushes. It's a fairly simple task to pick up your pen and write or pick up your paintbrush and paint, but the starting can be hard. Especially if you have any voices in your head saying, "I want to make something good."

Phooey, I say. Let go of the making-something-good or making-something-special voices and meet yourself where you are, right now, in this moment.

It's true, it might not be pretty. It might not be what you expect.

elephant night detail

Allow yourself to be surprised.

Simply show up and begin. Begin with simple tools. A few colors, a piece of a paper, a pen. Leave your fears of failure at the door. For just this moment, it doesn't matter if what you create is "good" or "bad." Just let something flow out. A few brushstrokes. A few lines. Where does that take you?

Last night, I started with a scrap of paper that I'd done some playful marks on previously. I wet part of the paper and grabbed a bottle of ink that my cats had playfull rolled down the hall earlier. I squirted some ink on the wet paper and delighted in how it spread and curled and formed fantastic shapes. I then squirted blue paint directly onto the paper, shapes began to develop. Orange came next, a field. And ink spots looked like houses. A figure appeared on the right side. I stepped back, looked from a distance, then peered closer. One of the house shapes looked like an elephant, so I made it appear. The sky was lit with stars.

Before I started painting I was feeling some angst about a variety of things, including the weather. But afterwards, I felt light and alive and more free. That's some of what expressing yourself can do for you. When you allow yourself to create, not what you might wish you were creating, but what you need to create now, in this moment, you'll feel more alive, more connected, more at peace.

This is what I aim for when I'm creating, this connection to where I'm at in the moment. It's the way I found myself creating in the art picnics I developed and it continues to be a magical experience that I just adore having.

How can you meet yourself where you're at in your art?

p.s. The next Art Picnic workshop has been scheduled for Saturday, August 22nd, from 1-3 pm EST. You can get all the details and sign up here!

No More Creative Constipation! Art Picnic: June 17th

June 3rd, 2009, Comments (6)

It's nearly time for another Art Picnic adventure. Yay! I'm super excited to share this class with you!

fly fly fly
fly fly fly, created at recent art picnic

I have a confession to make.

I get a bit nervous about talking on the phone. I've done a bunch of phone interviews in the last year, a few calls and classes, and they've all gone smoothly, but each time I've had a wave of anxiety wash over me before I spoke. It's getting easier, the anxiety is less each time, but speaking, for this introvert, can be a bit unnerving.

I could simply stop doing this sort of thing, but I really love sharing this work. I feel that it's powerful and important. Yes, it's simple, but the most powerful stuff is often the simplest. And the things I share in the Art Picnic class are essential parts of what helped me though my worst creative blocks, stuff I wish someone had shared with me when I was going through it.

My worst creative stuckage happened after I graduated from art school. My head was literally bursting with the voices of all the teachers I had and unfortunately, the loudest ones were the negative voices. Teamed up with my inner critic, these voices had me way too scared to create anything at all. I went months without painting or drawing and a full year without creating much at all.

If you're a creative person (and I know you are), then you know that creative stuck can lead to the feeling of build-up, like a dam that's over-extended and ready to burst. It affects all parts of your life, leading you to feel on edge,  frustrated, and not so fun to be around. Well, it's like being creatively constipated! Heh. Not pleasant!

No more creative constipation!

The way out for me was scheduling some time with myself to be playful, to give myself permission to fail wildly, and to create from my heart. In the Art Picnic class, I share the main tools to help you get started, get playing, and keep that momentum going. It's a gentle approach and I think that's the best way to get back to your creativity. Even if you're not blocked, scheduling some special time for you and your creative muse is a beautiful thing. Why not come play?

The next Art Picnic is happening Wednesday, June 17th from 8 - 10 p.m. EST (find out what time that is in your neck of the woods here.) It's only $25 and you can sign yourself up right over here.

An Art Picnic is all about quieting your gremlins and moving past your creative blocks so you can create freely. I'll be teaching you how to let your intuition guide you as you work, how to get playful with your art, and how to create from a place of joy, freedom, and authenticity.

The call consists of a half hour of sharing the essential parts having your own Art Picnic, 1 hour of creating on your own (with the ability to get in touch with me if you get stuck), and a final half hour of checking-in, sharing, and a few final tips to help you continue on the creative path. Check out all the details about the class here.

I loved what Teri wrote about her Art Picnic experience from the last workshop I gave. In the process, she learned that she could schedule some time for her creativity. And I love how she noted that it was a picnic with no ants! Ha! Very true!

It's so vital to schedule time for our creativity. Signing up for a class like this can be a huge help in making a commitment to yourself. It's fabulous self-care, so nurturing, and healing to set aside this kind of time.

If you have any questions, feel free to let me know. I hope to see you there!

Starting off With Sound

June 1st, 2009, Comments (9)

Happy June to all you lovely creatives! Being that this month's optional theme for the Creative Every Day Challenge is sound, I thought I'd start off the month with a sound recording. Fun!

I've recorded a 10 minute guided meditation, mostly relaxation, with a bit of visualization/affirmation at the end. It's meant to help you get grounded and connected with your still, small voice, your creative core. Feel free to listen at your leisure and let me know what you think! I plan on doing some more of these throughout the month, so let me know if there's anything you really want to hear.

The link below will open up an mp3 player, so you can listen right here on the site. Enjoy!

Click here to listen!

Whale Tales

May 30th, 2009, Comments (16)


After writing the other day about the "Dive Deep" painting and the synchronicity with the whale tail in it, I was lying in bed pondering what whales mean to me and thought back to other times I've painted whales. I had an "Oh!" moment when I thought about the piece, "Fishing." This piece consists of a woman in a boat on the ocean in front of a full moon. Beneath her a whale is swimming and its tail has come up out of the water. I describe it in my shop like this:

In this image, a woman is casting out, reaching out for support and the whale's tail shows up to let her know that even though she can't always see it, she is supported always.

This is a spiritual image for me. The whale represents the unseen, the divine, the Universe, whatever you want to call it. I didn't write this in the description, but I thought of the whale's tail as symbolizing those moments I call "winks from the Universe." Winks often take the form of synchronicity or moments that are just too juicy to be coincidental.

If I see the whale's tail as a personal symbol of a divine wink or synchronicity, then the tail in "Dive Deep" makes even more sense. When I start experiencing a lot of synchronicities, I get this sense that I'm headed in the right direction. So in the "Dive Deep" painting I can see the tail as a sign to the woman diving that she need not worry, she's right on course.

Speaking of synchronicity, when I was working on the "Dive Deep" painting, I mentioned that I'd was painting a whale on Twitter and Jennifer Louden kindly recommended I read, People of the Whale by Linda Hogan. I haven't been reading a lot of fiction lately, but I couldn't resist a title like that, so I requested it at my local library. Well, it arrived on the day I finished painting "Dive Deep," but I wasn't able to pick it up right away. I hadn't painted the octopus into the painting when Jennifer recommended the book. It appeared after the whale.

I was finally able to pick up the book this afternoon, opened it up, and the first chapter is titled, "Octopus." I grinned reading it. The first paragraph tells the story of an octopus that "left the water and walked on all eight legs across land and into Seal Cave." Oh yes, and on the cover of the book there's a painting that includes a whale's tail jutting out of the ocean.

As an interesting aside, my great-great-great (not sure how many greats) grandfather was a whaling captain in Maine. Makes the whole whale connection even more interesting and significant to me. Oh and there's more sound synchronicity: Hogan's book is also mentioning songs: Songs to the ocean, songs to the whales. In the Native American tribe the author writes of, women used to sing the whales toward them.

Tonight, I'm feeling frustrated with myself for taking a bootcamp exercise class this week. I was sampling it, hoping to use it to kickstart a workout routine this summer, but oh my, bootcamp classes are SO not me. Fortunately, I'm listening to my inner voice that's telling me not to continue with that class. Yes, I'm feeling a bit sad about the damage I did to my feet in the process (old plantar fascitis cropping up. ugh.) But even though I'm feeling a bit bummed out about how my body is aching, I'm happy for the way I'm learning to listen to my intuition more and more quickly. (In the past, I might have continued on with the class despite knowing it wasn't a good fit.) And tonight, I'll be kicking up my sore feet and and diving deep into this new book.

Wishing you many winks from the Universe!

Diving Into Water Art

May 13th, 2009, Comments (20)

work in progress, dive deep

One of my favorite natural elements is water. It soothes and calms me in a way that I can't quite explain, but just know deep down. I can sit by a lake, river, or the ocean and immediately feel this rush of peace fill me up. I was inspired earlier this week to begin a painting with water in it, which made me think of the nature theme going on this month for the Creative Every Day Challenge.

I hadn't been thinking of nature in terms of the elements, there are so many ways to interpret the theme, but it could be fun in the future to divide the month up, so that each week focused on a different element. Maybe another year!

I mentioned on Twitter that I had to put aside something I was working on to begin this painting which was just itching to get out. Sometimes a bit of inspiration will come tapping on your shoulder and if you put it off, it will start tapping softly, then more vigorously, and then it will practically beat you senseless until you do something about it. So, yesterday, I began by laying down a collaged background on a tall, skinny wooden panel that I'd gessoed up first. I collaged layers of maps, architecture plans, textures, patterns, graph paper, and other bits. I chose the items intuitively based on the idea that is already in my head for this piece, which is diving deep. I've still got more to do with this piece, but I thought you might like to see it in progress.

In a bit of synchronicity, while on a walk today, I came upon a gorgeous lake that I didn't know about. There was on old stone bench in the cool shade where I was able to sit and watch the little windswept waves lap at the shoreline where two dogs displayed their Spring wildness and their owners picnicked in the grass nearby.

So lovely, so peaceful.

I felt surrounded by the elements then: the fierce hotness of the sun, the wind blowing my hair around, the tree branches shading me above while little bell shaped flowers played near my feet, and the sparkling water stretching out ahead. What could be better? How do the elements inspire you? Are you drawn to one more than another? Why do you think that is?

Perhaps you can play a bit with you favorite element in a bit of art or journal about the elements. Perhaps a poem will come tripping out or a short story. Keep your eye out for the elements this week and see what they might have to share with you.

What the Full Flower Moon Can Teach You About Creativity

May 8th, 2009, Comments (11)

Today or tomorrow (depending on where you are in the world) marks the start of the Full Flower Moon (also known as the Full Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.) When I thought of the Creative Every Day Challenge's theme of Nature this month, one of the first things that sprang to mind was the moon.

moon under water

I'm a big fan of the moon. My astrological sign is cancer, but beyond that I'm just drawn to it. I love its rhythms and its beauty. The painting above is called "Moon Under Water" and can be purchased here. I dreamed of the moon under water one night, and when I first sketched the image of this painting, it inspired the following poem:

I dreamt last night
that the moon was under water,
not the whole of it,
just half,
as if she was too hot for this summer night
and decided to take a dip.
Finding it bracingly cold
and frighteningly vast in its darkness,
she kept her face dry and safe
above the water line.
But just the legs of the moon
were enough to give the ocean
an ethereal glow
that startled the fish from their slumber
which caused the waves to ripple and dance.
And when the stars moved in
for a better view
the surface lit up like a discoteque
and the air hummed
like a refridgerator late at night.
On a distant shore the waves lapped, lapped
on the rocks
marking the thumping heartbeat
of the skinny dipping moon,
shivering and alive.

Perhaps the glorious full moon will inspire some art in you this weekend, perhaps a poem will spring forth. The moon is also a constant reminder of the cycles of life which are much like the cycles of creativity. I spoke about these cycles with Jamie for the Your Creative Spark interview and I also wrote about them a bit here and here. It's important to remember that our creativity ebbs and flows and it's perfectly o.k. to experience downtimes. If we ride them like the waves, the whole experience is so much more smooth than if we fight them.

You could also play with the full moon by creating a Full Moon Dreamboard, which Jamie Ridler leads us through every month. These are similar to vision boards, but the idea is to create the vision of what you hope to bring into your life with each full moon. I painted a dreamboard for myself for the Full Pink Moon last month and it was a lovely experience.

Try this: When you reflect on the Full Flower Moon, what does it inspire in you? Perhaps some blossoming or blooming that is wanting to take place? Write, doodle, sketch, or paint whatever comes up.

I hope your weekend is full of inspiration and creativity and fun! In the meantime, go howl at the moon!

Be a Color Detective

April 22nd, 2009, Comments (14)

color yellowballoon

Late last week, I was taking a walk and started to notice bits of color on the ground. Scraps of plastic, a tag, a bit of paper, a ribbon, a child's barrette, and the yellow balloon pictured above. Suddenly, my walk transformed from something ordinary into a magical color detective adventure!

color arrows

I was listening to an audio book on my iPhone which also has a camera, which I used to snap pictures of color for the rest of my walk. The colorful arrows spray painted on the sidewalk were giving me clues about which way to go next.

color brickstripe

Texture and color began to pop for me. The bright yellow stripe against the the colors and textures of street and brick were so juicy! How often do you stop and notice the texture and color combos on your street? Just having a camera will open your eyes to all sorts of everyday beauty.

color rust

Ooo, rust, how gorgeous are you? Especially against that dusty blue paint. Yum. Little snapshots like this could inspire a color palette for a future piece of art or they could be transformed into a painting, piece of jewelry, or color scheme for an outfit.

color shadow

Shadows are fantastic too. Now that Spring has arrived (this works in all seasons, but is more fun for me when the weather is warmer), get outside with your camera and focus on capturing shadows on colorful backgrounds. Plants make great shapes, but you can also get great shadows from your own body against a background of grass, reflected in water, or against a colorful building.

Taking a color detective walk was so much fun and I found that by the time I got home I was in a fabulous mood. Give it at try and let me know how it goes for you!

Is the Creative Every Day Challenge theme of color making you notice color more than usual? I know it is for me!