Entries Tagged as: self-care

Stained Glass Tree

November 9th, 2009, Comments (28)

stained glass tree

Today I used a little doodle from my sketchbook as the inspiration for my art. I wasn't intending to do it like this, but when I started to work, it was like my hands just wanted to collage a paper background, so I did. The end-result reminds me a bit of stained-glass.

I'm resting up today, spending some time resting and reading mixed in with short bursts of arting and cleaning. And before it gets too dark, I'm going to get out for a stroll among the trees!


November 4th, 2009, Comments (35)


I've been focusing on self-care a lot today, noticing when and how I can do those little things that make my day sweeter... like eating a warm lunch (instead of something cold and quick), getting some exercise, taking a break to drink hot chocolate and watch So You Think You Can Dance. It's all laying a good foundation to help carry me through Art Every Day Month

Last night I took some time to doodle in my sketchbook before going to sleep. This is one of my favorite idea-generating tools. In my sketchbook, I just let loose, playing and drawing whatever popped into my head, doodling, and having fun. One of the things I drew last night was this sleepwalker, I think she expresses some of the blah energy I was feeling yesterday. I really enjoyed bringing her to life in collage, paint, and ink. And thankfully, I'm feeling much more energetic today.

I used to sleepwalk as a kid occasionally. Once I woke up in the hallway with all my sheets and blankets in my arms. I'd stripped the bed in my sleep and carried them out to the hall before I woke up. But this sleepwalking woman is less about actually sleepwalking and more about feeling that sleepwalking feeling when you're awake, like you're there, but not. Not a fun feeling. When I was able to check-in, I realized I needed some rest, some time to doodle and play, and some good self-care. Being able to check-in with yourself, find out what you need, and get those things (or ask for help) is so important to maintaining a creative lifestyle.

I'm glad to be fully awake again today, enjoying the creating and the creativity that's surrounding me. It's a beautiful thing!

Finding a balance between push and release
Guest Post by Jennifer Hofmann, Inspired Home Office

September 2nd, 2009, Comments (14)

In order to drive a nail into a board, there's the obvious downswing that pushes in the nail. Equally important is the back swing in which you prepare for the next push.

If you're driving a car, pressing the accelerator is only half of the "getting there" equation. You also have to decelerate at the appropriate time, or your car will be in a world of hurt.

To accomplish just about anything, what's needed is a balance between push and release.

Like most of the creative people I know, I have a frustrating tendency to focus on the push. In fact, as I write this, I'm in the process of trying to convince myself that I don't want release at all (even though I need it). Instead, I should actually be pushing harder. Frustrating.

Push is not a resting state

When you're in a period of intense creating, you lose the ability to contrast it with your resting state. The creative state begins to feel like normal, the baseline, when it isn't.

The trouble is, that pushing harder and forcing work out of ourselves turns off the creative flow. Inspiration goes from a gushing torrent - to a trickle - to a dry river bed.

Pausing is vital to the creative process. Taking a break, releasing the pressure, is what fills us back up again. Once we're replenished, you can create again without struggle.

But it's hard.

If you live in the States, you're probably unaware of how much drive is a part of our culture. Productivity. Proving our worth. It's a silent message, but ingrained and ever-present.

Because of this, slowing down to replenish is counter-culture. Pausing is like swimming against a powerful stream. I often find myself feeling guilty and apologizing for taking time to nourish my spirit. Sometimes I just ignore my need to stop because it's so hard to claim it.

Lately, I've been on an earnest search to discover what replenishes me. Recently, I was surprised to find that I was trying to concoct an "inspiration pill" which would allow me to quickly find my center and begin working again.

It's laughable, isn't it? Hurry up and slow down! In truth, pausing takes as long as it needs to and, by nature, can't be hurried.

What I do to find inspiration

Interestingly, the word "inspire" means to breathe in. So oxygen is a good start. I also like to breathe in quiet - whether that comes from actual silence or my noise-canceling headphones. Removing sound helps me hear the important messages that come from inside.

In my heart of hearts, the thing that nourishes me most is singing old hymns from my days as a music minister. It's been years since I sang at Mass on Sundays, but I get out my guitar and a big binder of sheet music and play until my fingertips are throbbing.

Something about the lyrics reminds me that I'm just a tiny star in the human constellation... and this is a good thing. These hymns remind me that it's God/Universe who's making the stars turn, not me. That it's safe to let go and trust. I don't have to control everything (even though my ego wants to).

After a session like this, I have happy tears and a deep feeling of release. Suddenly there's room in my life again for all the things I love. Things come back into balance again.

It took me a long time to figure out that this is what works for me. And it will probably take the rest of my life to find ways to not resist doing it. I'm okay with that. Like everything in life, it's a process, not a destination.

What works for you? How do you pause and replenish?

Bio: Jennifer Hofmann was not born organized. In fact, her creativity and ADD meant she started projects she never finished, was surrounded by clutter, and struggled to keep up with everyday tasks. Today, Jennifer still isn't the poster child for House Beautiful, but she understands people who struggle with clutter and overwhelm and offers unique solutions that help small businesses grow and thrive.

If you've tried to get organized in the past and failed, you're not alone. Jennifer's approach helps small business owners discover their natural strengths and how to integrate them so that organizing becomes easy and enjoyable. Based in Salem, Oregon, Jennifer teaches teleclasses and coaches entrepreneurs – please visit her at www.inspiredhomeoffice.com.

Deep Rest

August 23rd, 2009, Comments (17)


It's funny, but all the themes get me thinking about their opposites. I'm just contrary like that. :-)

So with this being the month of movement for the Creative Every Day Challenge, I've been doing a lot of thinking about rest. And I'm not talking about any old rest here...I mean deep rest. The soul-nourishing, replenishing, much needed kind. 

Do you give yourself time for this kind of rest? For more than 5 minutes? What does deep rest mean to you?

Giving yourself the time and space to rest is so important for creativity. When you're better rested, you'll have more energy to create, to make connections, to do the things you love, and to be there for the people you love. And yet, it can be hard to give ourselves permission to slow down.

When I slow down, I often feel this sense of, "Oh, there's something I should be doing!" It's even harder to do when I really do have a lot to do. But when I give myself permission to stop and relax, it's amazing how much better I feel. And all that stuff gets done much more easily.

Deep rest for me, might include a nap, or turning off the computer and reading a book purely for pleasure, or spending the day in my pajamas, or taking a bubble bath, or getting a massage, or rubbing lotion on my feet. Maybe you can just squeeze in five minutes of lying still or maybe you can schedule in an hour, a day, or a weekend. Try playing with adding some deep rest to your life and see how it impacts your creativity.

Looking for some more ideas? Check out Jennifer Louden's The Woman's Retreat Book or check out her blog, Comfort Queen.

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!

Movin’ and Shakin’

August 5th, 2009, Comments (15)

tiptoe, mixed-media on watercolor paper

Yesterday, I made three phone calls that I was dreading. Actually, I dread making most phone calls. It's not my favorite means of communication. It feels awkward and uncomfortable to me and when you're calling places like your health insurance company, you tend to speak with people who are a little edgy (not that I can blame them!)

I thought I'd feel relieved once I'd made the calls, but I didn't. My shoulders were still up around my ears, my chest was still tight, my head hurt a little bit. I tried taking a deep breath and congratulating myself for making the calls, but still felt about the same. And then I realized what I needed to do. I needed to embrace the "move" theme for the Creative Every Day Challenge this month and shake!

Do you know that expression, "shake it off!"? Well, I think there's something to it. In a variety of classes, books, and products, I've been taught to shake my body to release tension. But it's also a great energy shifter. I'm imagining the tension in my body like this shell of meringue. It's light and airy, but slightly crusted over. And if I just shake, it will all dissolve into dust.

So I shook. I started with my hands and arms, then my legs, my torso and my head. I also used the tool I learned from Gretchen's MuseCubes and combined sound with my shaking. I chose a sound that was appealing to me and sighed deeply as I shook and danced around my studio for a few minutes. The movement certainly changed my energy, got my blood moving, shifted my perspective, and made me smile. My cats gave me funny looks, but that's fairly normal. Hehe.

Oh, that reminds me of a game and song I used to enjoy as a kid. You'd usually sing it with a group and silliness would ensue. You'd sing, "Father Abraham, seven sons, seven sons, seven sons had Father Abraham. And he couldn't dance. And he couldn't sing. All he did was go like this..." And then you'd stick your left arm in and out and sing the song again, this time adding your right arm. The song continues and with each verse you're adding one more move (each leg, a wiggle, and a turn) until you're all laughing and exhausted. Good stuff.

You could also try the shaking technique next time you're stuck with a piece of artwork. When you're feeling unsure of what to do next, try stepping back from your art and shaking your body for a few minutes. See if it helps shift things for you.

I think I'll be doing a lot of body-shaking this month as prepare to move. As you can see from the art above, I've got moving on the brain!

Have you tried shaking to shift your perspective before? How has it worked for you?


Creative Play Workshop: Creating Time for Yourself

July 22nd, 2009, Comments (11)

a timely message

I've been enjoying writing these posts on the theme of self for the Creative Every Day Challenge this month because they help to remind me about how to take good care of myself, how to celebrate, how to move past self-doubts, and how to meet myself where I'm at with my art. Taking excellent care of yourself isn't something that comes naturally to many of us, but it's a key part of living a creative life.

For many of us, things that we consider frivolous or unnecessary come last, so while we make time to do errands and clean and meet other obligations, we're less likely to schedule in time for pampering, art-making, rest, or play.

I believe that we are more present in our lives, more alive, and more available to those we love when we nurture ourselves and our creativity.

Sometimes that nurturing comes in the form of creating time just for you. If you find that despite your intention to make the time to play, you're just not getting to it, it might be time to make a creative date, the kind you schedule in on your calendar. You may need to ask a loved one or babysitter or pet sitter to help you out. Do that. It's ok to ask for some help making your creative date happen. I often use signing up for a class as a sure-fire way to show up for myself. (Something about paying for something guarantees that I'll show up!)

cp2 large

If you're in the Boston-area and looking to schedule in some creative time for yourself, then I'd like to invite you to join Jennifer Lee and I for a live workshop: Creative Play: An Afternoon of Intuitive Art and Creating from the Heart, happening Saturday, September 19th, from 1-3 pm. Get all the details and sign up here.

Jenn and I are so thrilled to be sharing this class with you! We'll be getting playful, creating collage art from our intuition, and learning tools to infuse our daily lives with creativity. And there will be giggling, lots of of it.

We've got an early bird price of just $40 through August 31st, but space is limited, so do grab your spot if this creative playdate calls to you!

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

Celebrate Yourself

July 17th, 2009, Comments (31)

underwater tea party

Awhile back, I wrote about celebrating your creativity. Celebrating in general is something that can be challenging for many of us, myself included. For me, when I finish something, I tend to move quickly on to the next without taking the time to celebrate, but it's something I'm working on because I believe good self-care includes celebrating the good stuff, big and small, in our lives. And as it's the month of self for the Creative Every Day Challenge, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to talk about celebrating yourself! 

Today happens to be my birthday. I've always felt like my b-day is a day to do something special for myself like taking the day off to get a massage, go to a movie by myself, get taken out to my favorite restaurant, or plan a mini-trip. But you don't need to wait til your birthday to celebrate yourself. One of the simplest ways I've found to celebrate is to think about what brings me delight.

Take a moment and write down 25 - 50 (or more!) things that delight you. How can you bring more of these things into your everyday life? What things can you schedule in this week or this month?

Some things that bring me joy are: snuggling my kitties, reading good books, wandering aimlessly in a bookstore or library, laughing with the hubster, sitting by a body of water, doodling in my sketchbook, and silly socks.

As much as I love enjoying my birthday, I sometimes get a little shy when receiving gifts or compliments. But it's so good to be open to receiving love from others and from yourself. Do you ever disount someone's compliment? I used to do it all the time. Someone would say something like, "Oh, your hair looks great today!" and I'd say, "Oh, thanks, it's kinda frizzy." It makes others feel good to shower you with love, so try allowing yourself to drink it in without trying to squash it. Try simply saying, "Thank you."

How can you celebrate the wondrous person you are? If you're a bit reluctant to celebrate yourself, start small. What's one small thing you adore about yourself? Keep adding to the list.

I think the nicest way to celebrate yourself is with fabulous self care. Here are some ways to rock out with your self-care celebrations:

  • Foot rub: Treat yourself to some yummy scented lotion and rub your feet.
  • Shower Power: Spend some extra time in the shower or the bath with some scented shower gel or bath salts. Warm water feels fabulous and taking some time to take excellent care of your body is so important.
  • Good Grub: Making yourself a great meal is a wonderful way to treat yourself. Even something as simple as a slice of lemon in your water can feel fabulous.
  • Flowers: Simple, yes, but a small vase of flowers can give you such a great lift. Bring some beauty into your space and delight in it. You're totally worth it.
  • Treat yourself: Treat yourself to a massage, a pedicure, a facial, or get your hair done (I love getting my hair washed!)
  • Let Go: Let go of something that you've been holding onto that you just don't love and don't use. It feels great to let go of stuff that doesn't bring you delight.
  • Create: Write, paint, draw, get creative. Express yourself freely, just for fun, for no other reason than because you love it.
  • Move: Moving your body feels good. I used to focus on exercise as a way to stay in shape. But now I see it as self-care. I feel better when I get regular movement, from the more intense (jogging, dancing) to the more mellow (stretching, walking.)

What are your favorite ways to celebrate yourself?

CED July Theme: Self

June 27th, 2009, Comments (23)

ced self

The *totally optional* theme for the Creative Every Day Challenge in July will be Self

I will be posting about the theme throughout the month with different ways to approach it. If you need some suggestions, here are a few ideas to get you started. You could:

  • *Do a series of self-portraits.
  • *Get creative with your rituals of self-care
  • *Write an autobiographical essay or poem.
  • *Explore what your space says about you.
  • *Have fun with your personal style.
  • *Express yourself in an art journal.
  • *Play with your personal symbols.
  • *Write a letter to yourself from your higher self.
  • *Create a vision board about your deepest visions for yourself.

How to use the CED themes:

If you're feeling creatively stuck or blocked at any point during the month, use the theme as a source of inspiration to get you moving. 

Using the theme is entirely optional for CED participants. Use it if it inspires you, ignore it if it doesn't. I'll be sharing posts throughout the month around the theme (among other things) to get you thinking about how to incorporate it into your life. I'd love to hear how you use the theme in your creative world.

Feel free to focus on the theme in your creative activities for the entire month or as much as you'd like.

And have fun with it!

"The most beautiful art comes from our deepest, rawest selves; it rises from within like the hoot of an owl or the song of a whale." ~Jan Phillips, Marry Your Muse

p.s. The art I used in at the top of the post is from my painting, Lantern, which I modified slightly for this theme post.