Posted by: Cathy | September 17, 2018

“You could choose to believe that life is easy”

“Let life be easy” journal page by CV Carpenter

We make hundreds of choices every day; what to wear, what to eat, what to say. Some choices influence other choices; for example, if you want to go for a run in the afternoon, you might choose to have a light lunch. Other choices are foundational to our day-to-day experience; for example, if you start your day with intention, you will have an easier time doing what is important to you and attaining your goals.

One of these foundational choices I am trying to borrow from author and coach Cheryl Richardson. She says, “You could choose to believe that life is easy” rather than a struggle.

How would your day be different if you chose to believe that life is easy?

For me, it looks like trusting more in the universe; giving myself permission to relax and not know all the answers. When I’m not trying to think my way through everything, I am more aware of the present moment and can make more conscious choices.

Of course, this isn’t easy, to choose that life is easy! Right now, I still have a lingering cough from a cold I had last week. It hasn’t been easy to get over this cold, but I can take some echinacea and choose ease, trusting that my cough will go away soon.

Notice the choices you make each day and examine whether they are serving you or not. Wouldn’t it serve you to believe that life is easy? Give it a try.
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Posted by: Cathy | September 12, 2018

You work through a writing problem by writing

Newsflash: You work through a writing problem by writing. I discovered this by myself, and then rediscovered it, and I have a feeling I’ll keep rediscovering it.

Typical blocked behaviors include avoiding, complaining, over-thinking, over-eating, etc. These behaviors do not help you work through a creative problem. A creative problem isn’t a problem with your creativity; it is a problem with what you think or feel about your creativity. The problem is in your mind. The way to solve the problem is to push your thoughts or feelings aside and get back into the creative project.

For example, I’ve been stuck on my novel for about two months now. Part of it was unavoidable, day-to-day distractions; we all go through periods like that occasionally. But I used those as an excuse to continue avoiding my project. I need to add a subplot to some middle chapters in my novel and my brain wants to figure it out before I begin writing; however, if I just sit down and start doing a free-write, I think a great idea will eventually come to me. For some reason, I’m resisting the free-write because my mind wants to hold the illusion of control over the project. And yet I’m not making any progress while my mind is in “control” because the block is in my mind.

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Albert Einstein

So you work through a writing problem by writing. You work through a creative problem by being more creative. Finding a solution to your block requires creativity.

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Posted by: Cathy | September 10, 2018

Trick Yourself into Creative Time

Sometimes, we just need a little nudge to get started. You can trick yourself into doing your creative projects.

When you have trouble getting to a blank page for art or writing, have some tiny exercises in your “back pocket” to open the door and show up. You can commit to only 5 minutes and then see if you’ve tricked yourself into doing more.

For example, on my fiction writing, I like to begin a writing session by writing in my fiction journal. I got this idea from author KM Weiland. The journal lets you capture thoughts about your story or your process, vent your frustrations, and most importantly transition into fiction writing time. Sometimes when I wasn’t feeling inspired, I would make myself write in my fiction journal about why I wasn’t going to do my writing session that day, and then I ended up doing my session anyway because writing in my journal opened the door to my session.

Similarly for visual art, you could commit to just doing one aspect of a project, say outlining your subject for a drawing or painting. Once you open the door for 5-10 minutes, you might feel content with what you got done for the day or you might get into a rhythm and move on to the next aspect of your project.

Whatever your artform, think about a practice like my writing journal that would help you open the door on a creativity session. Make that practice required every day and notice if it helps you get more done in a week than you did before. Then let me know how it’s going! I’d love to know your creative practices and how they help open the door.

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Posted by: Cathy | September 5, 2018

Watch Your Mouth, Affirmations are Everywhere

I had a terrible realization the other day. Saying “I get angry in traffic” is an affirmation.

My commute to my day-job is only about 8 miles each way, but it’s all on an over-crowded, under-construction interstate. Whenever I’m stuck in traffic, it seems like everyone left their brains behind and they do some dumb, if not straight-up dangerous, things. I get extremely frustrated by other drivers’ idiocy and inconsideration. And I’m not angel, I’ve had stupid moments too.

However, identifying as someone who gets angry in traffic makes me more likely to get angry in traffic. I’m trying to use a deliberate affirmation, something like, “All the drivers in my vicinity are competent and friendly,” but that isn’t often my experience. Which isn’t surprising, because as soon as I get on the highway on-ramp, I start looking out for idiots. I’m focusing on everyone’s short-comings.

I need to start looking at the competent drivers I’m taking for granted! I need to start saying thanks to every driver who stays in their lane, keeps up with traffic flow, and isn’t talking on their phone or pressing buttons on their GPS. By focusing on the competent drivers, I will attract more competent drivers around me.

Watch what you say to yourself. Affirmations are everywhere. If you say anything along the lines of “I get angry in traffic,” “I hate airports,” “I’m not good at math,” “I always lose my keys,” “I can’t parallel park,” “I’m never good with liquid eyeliner,” etc., etc., stop saying that to yourself! Stay open and receptive, and see if you can change your experience.

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Posted by: Cathy | September 3, 2018

Back to school: Support yourself with education

You’re only as good as you’re willing to be, but we all have limits. Luckily, some limits can be overcome with education.

To help you get to your next level, personally or professionally, what would it help to learn?

Make a list of 3-5 things you’d be interested to learn, anything from meditation or yoga to financial investing to singing or playing piano to Google Analytics to speaking French to clutter-clearing to stand-up paddle boarding. (Try to mix some fun learning in with your serious topics!)

Then invest in yourself, but try some free resources first to find what suits you. Start with blogs or YouTube channels, then maybe a book from the library, to see if your interest is heightened before you invest your hard-earned money.

“Every next level of your life will demand a different version of you.” Anonymous

Expand your limits by learning something new, and support yourself with education. Always be actively learning something!

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Posted by: Cathy | August 29, 2018

Creative Alignment Check Review

It’s been three months since I shared my new booklet, “Creative Alignment Check,” so I invite you to check in again, notice any imbalances, and work to integrate and re-align.

Many of us are suffering from a “Reality Disorder”: our ideals are not aligned with our day-to-day reality.

It doesn’t matter how you got to this point. You made choices that led to your current reality and you can make choices to change it. We aren’t going to judge and regret the past. We are going to take a Creative Alignment Check and use that to make small changes in the present to better align your future with your ideals.

We’ll do this with three scales: Mind, Body, and Soul.

Review my post from May on how to do this, and/or download my Creative Alignment Check e-booklet, which has worksheets for these three exercises. Find it on my downloads page under “Self-Development.”

You can begin to merge your reality to reflect more of your ideals. It takes mindfulness to notice when you are operating from the “old” states so you can make different choices to cultivate the “new”/ideal states. But day by day, moment by moment, you can create new habits and slowly shift to your ideal states. You have the power to build your reality in a new direction by building new habits.

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Posted by: Cathy | August 27, 2018

The Muse is Your Subconscious

Ray Bradbury: “What is The Subconscious to every other man, in its creative aspect becomes, for writers, The Muse. … Here is the stuff of originality. For it is in the totality of experience reckoned with, filed, and forgotten, that each man is truly different from all others in the world. For no man sees the same events in the same order, in his life.”

This is also true of artists, musicians, and any other form of creative expression. We take in the world, everything from traffic jams to conversations to sunsets, and all those impressions and sensations stew in our unconscious. When they’re done cooking, the subconscious presents the amalgam to us as ideas for art, which we dutifully try to transcribe onto paper, canvas, etc.

The more comfortable you are with your subconscious or your muse, the more successful you will be at transcribing creative ideas. This is why journaling, daydreaming, and playing with our art supplies are all so important. It is by accessing our subconscious impressions and feelings that we understand what we want to say creatively and how we want to express it.

I gave you some topics last week to “discuss” with your muse, so give them a try if you haven’t already and get to know your subconscious! Then make something only you can make.

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Posted by: Cathy | August 22, 2018

Make a date with your muse

Before the end of summer, schedule a fling with your muse.

Take a hike, a picnic, a quiet swim, a drive in the country, etc. Relax and daydream, then do some journaling to have a “conversation” your muse. Take turns asking and answering questions in your journal with some automatic writing.

Here are some sample topics:

  • What was your favorite part of our activity today?
  • Where would you like to go next?
  • What is inspiring you lately? (Music, tv, books, movies, colors, textures, etc.)
  • What kind of creative expression would feel really good right now?
  • What kind of self-care practice are you craving?
  • What would be a fun creative risk to try?
  • With whom could we share something creative soon?
  • What can we do with the last few weeks of summer energy?
  • Where will the autumn take us? What would we love to experience in autumn?

The more you engage with your muse any time of day, the more she will show up for you when it’s time to be creative. Just like a friendship or romantic relationship, you need to spend time together not just when you need or want something. Get to know each other and open a communication channel by making a date with your muse.

Where would your muse like to go?
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Posted by: Cathy | August 20, 2018

Mono-focus is really important for creative people

Mono-focus is really important for creative people, because creative flow IS focus. Creative flow is all about being present, focusing on your task, and letting the momentum of the process sweep you up … you and your task become one while you are in flow.

You can’t be in flow if you try to multitask. Your attention and energy are divided when you try to do more than one thing at a time. For instance, if I am talking to myself in my shower about what I need to do that day, I forget if I’ve already washed my feet! Because the part of me processing my day wasn’t present when I was washing my feet.

And conversely, you can’t get into creative flow if you’re having difficulty focusing. That’s why you feel blocked if you are worried or anxious about something else going on in your life. If that’s the case, do some journaling or meditation or prayer so you can press pause on your worries long enough to get some creative work done.

Mono-focus is so important for creative people! What are some of your favorite ways to improve focus?
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Posted by: Cathy | August 15, 2018

Dream + Reality = Creativity with a Plan

“The dreamer rejects reality, the realist rejects the dream, and the artist embraces both dream and reality.” Eric Maisel

I was just reading “Becoming a Writer” by Dorothea Brande and she talks about this too, that “creative writing is a function of the whole man. The unconscious must flow freely and richly, bringing at demand all the treasures of memory, all the emotions, incidents, scenes, intimations of character and relationship which it has stored away in its depths; the conscious mind must control, combine, and discriminate between these materials without hampering the unconscious flow.”

I’m in the revision/editing phase of my novel and it’s not going as smoothly as the writing did, although part of that can be attributed to lapses in my outline before I even began to write my draft. The “unconscious” part was more fun, and I’m trying not to get mired down by the “conscious” part and keep moving it forward.

Creativity is the dream working with reality, or the dream can never become tangible; just as the novel is the first-draft plus the editing process, or the draft won’t stand the harsh light of day.

Back to the Maisel quote, I prefer the dream but I can also handle reality. I have the most fun with reality when it is in service to the dream! For instance, making my trips to Italia a reality.

What about you, where are you on the Dream-Reality spectrum?

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