Posted by: Cathy | January 3, 2022

Retiring this blog

After 9.5 years and 1,177 posts on this blog, I am feeling called to let it go. I still think of article topics and enjoy personal development, but I want to spend more time making art and spending time with my family.

I will continue to post art on Instagram, and send out my newsletter, and I will attempt to do more vlogs on YouTube, but I will stop posting twice per week on this blog.

If you want to stay in touch, please sign up to receive my newsletter, subscribe to my channel on YouTube, or follow me on Instagram!

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Posted by: Cathy | December 29, 2021

Rest Rut

A few years ago, I had some time off during the holidays and had a little “stay-cation”, but it wasn’t very restful. Other than doing holiday baking and household chores, I was watching lots of Netflix and taking naps, but I wasn’t feeling refreshed. I had too much time on my hands. I felt aimless. My brain was turned off and I didn’t even know what I needed to feel nourished. I was zoning out, watching endless hours of movies, and eating mindlessly on the couch.

I realized, too late into my time off to do much good, that I needed something to change. I realized that it isn’t helpful to go mindlessly around in a daze. You need to make your quiet time mindful; that’s what makes it restful.

If you feel your “rest” is draining, it means you’re not getting what you need.



Pay attention.

Stop whatever you’re doing that feels draining. Check in and listen to your body and heart for a moment. What are they trying to tell you? Pay attention and act on the information.

Instead of more holiday treats, I could have made a healthy soup. Even though it was cold outside (highs in the teens!) and I couldn’t take a walk, I could have danced in the living room or done an aerobics video. Instead of watching another movie, I could have called some friends or relatives to chat.

When you’re feeling aimless, make a list of all the things you could do and why each item feels appealing or not. (For example, I could have read a book, but I didn’t have the brain power. I could have done an art project, but I didn’t have the energy to pull out all of my supplies.) If anything feels appealing, do it! It also helps to make a list of all the things you don’t want to do (balance my checkbook, cook or clean any more stuff, go outside in the cold, etc.). That helps to narrow down your options.

If all else fails, feel free to do nothing, but do it mindfully. Give yourself permission to do nothing for 15 minutes. Sit on the couch and watch geese fly by the window. Listen to cars drive through the snow. Focus on your breath and try a short meditation. Eventually, maybe you’ll get bored and want to balance your checkbook!

The point is, for your quiet time to be restful, you need to know what kind of rest you need. You can’t figure that out if you’re zoning out to Netflix. So check in with yourself periodically before and during your quiet time to be sure it’s serving you. Quiet time is too precious to be wasted!

Posted by: Cathy | December 27, 2021

Q1 mini-goal, what do you want to create?

I like to do my annual planning quarter by quarter. This way, I can make course-corrections as the year progresses and not feel behind on my overall goals.

For example, Q4 I was continuing my canvas-painting project and started a ballet barre practice. I didn’t want to commit to too much through the holidays.

For the first quarter, January through March, I am starting a new annual creativity challenge, #100portraits. I want to improve my skill on drawing faces and capturing likeness, so I am spending all year on it.

Now it’s your turn: looking forward for the next three months, what is a mini-goal you want to set for yourself? It can be a subset of a larger goal, or it can be a stand-alone goal. Try to focus on only 3-5 mini-goals at a time, one for each priority area of your life for the year. For example, you might have a fitness mini-goal, a creativity mini-goal, and an education mini-goal. What do you want to create for yourself in Q1?

Posted by: Cathy | December 22, 2021

What have you made yet this year? Q4

We’ve finished the year! It’s time for review.

What have you made so far creatively?
What were your “highs”, personally, professionally, creatively, etc.?
What were your goals for the year? How did you progress on them?
What worked well for you so far? What do you want to keep doing?
What challenges did you overcome this year?
What tripped you up? What could you change about those things/situations so they go more smoothly in the future?
Who do you want to be next year and what do you need to do to make that happen? What do you want to change or add in 2022?

If you have other favorite review questions/prompts, let me know in the comments!

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Regardless of what you did or didn’t do in 2021, tomorrow is a new day and you can start fresh. Take what serves you forward and leave what doesn’t serve you behind, and recommit to yourself and your goals each day.

You can do it! You’re creative; you can do anything when you combine vision and action.

Posted by: Cathy | December 20, 2021

Long night, infinite stars

The Winter Solstice is December 21, the longest night of the year. During this literally dark time, it’s nice to look for the metaphorical stars. What little twinkling points of light are there in your life right now?

Here are a few of my “twinkling points of light”:

  • My husband and the loving space we hold for each other
  • My dear friends and their senses of humor
  • My niece and nephew, and their bright eyes
  • Time with family, but also time alone relaxing
  • My daily creative practice
  • Holiday sweets
  • Footie … even when they’re not doing well, they’re my dudes

Spend some time with the night. Rest. Dream. Recuperate. And look to your twinkling points of light. The sun and summer will be here soon enough. Enjoy what we have right now.

I have a holiday gift for you!

Whether you draw, paint, or write fiction or poetry, I put together 365 prompts (with a bonus leap-day prompt) that can help you start or maintain a daily creative practice. The prompts are broken down month-by-month. They include a category of “travel”, and those 15 prompts are also listed as a batch at the end so you can do them all when you go on vacation.

How to use these prompts:
For drawing, painting, or photography, you can simply make a representation of the object.
For collage, you could find a bunch of images of the item on Pinterest and make your own digital or print collage.
For poetry or fiction writing, you can write a poem about the item, or write a paragraph or page of details/description about the item.

If you post any of these prompts on social media, please use the hashtag #365eyd

Download it here!

Posted by: Cathy | December 13, 2021

Project goals should support your life goals/values

As you look ahead to 2022 and what goals you want to set, keep in mind that your project goals should support your life goals and values.

If you set a goal to lose weight but you aren’t ready to change your lifestyle, you are not aligning your project goals with your life goals. If you want to write a novel but you aren’t ready to make time in your schedule and sacrifice some other activity for the great time commitment a novel requires, you are not aligning your project goals with your life goals. Those maybe aren’t the right goals for you at this time.

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First, look at your life goals and values and then find short-term projects to fit into the lifestyle you want. If the intention of your goal supports your overall life goals, your project will be easier to complete. The “why” fits in with your life and values.

I set a reading goal each year because I’m curious and I love being lost in a book. I set a creative challenge for the year because painting makes me feel really good. In those instances, I don’t need to force the “why” to fit into my life, and this year I will meet my reading goal (36 books and 12,000 pages read) and my creative challenge (painted 80 canvases) because they were aligned with my life goals.

What is a life goal you want to work on in 2022?

Where did your creativity take you this year? Where might it take you next year?

We often hear a creative practice described as “flow,” and doing a creative project will certainly take you from point A to point B the way a river carries a boat downstream, but have you also considered the cumulative flow of all of your creative projects for the year? They have taken you on a journey you couldn’t have predicted back in January.

Every creative project you do, every creative mark you make, leads to another and another and another. No creative project is ever a “failure” because those steps were important to get you to taking the next step. The more steps you take, the farther you go and the more ready you are to take the next step.

Keep taking creative steps. Keep moving forward. Keep learning and trying new things. Keep honing your signature styles and techniques. Keep figuring out what you want to say and how to say it. Your creative will carry you on a beautiful journey and help you go where you need to go and become who you need to become.

Posted by: Cathy | December 6, 2021

What affirmations could have helped you this autumn?

Thinking back over the quarter, what do you wish you knew earlier? Write those statements as affirmations to help you next September.

Think about points where you were stuck this quarter and what you learned or what advice would have helped you move through the problem. Then write some personal affirmations for yourself to capture the wisdom and help your future self recover maybe faster if you encounter a similar problem.

What affirmations could have helped you this quarter?

Posted by: Cathy | December 1, 2021

“I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

In spite of this year, in spite of the last 21 months of uncertainty and challenge and loss, you have ended up where you need to be.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

Douglas Adams

This year has tested all of us. It has pushed our boundaries and it has clarified our values and priorities. You aren’t the same person you were in January or March, or even September. We have all grown and changed and evolved. These changes are preparing us for the next level, for something yet to come.

You are where you are supposed to be in this moment. It is probably not where you want to be, but sitting with that discomfort, that disconnect between what is and what we want, helps us to take steps forward, toward what we want, toward a new reality. Without the discomfort, we would probably stay where we are, which is not how we grow.

Embrace the opportunities you have had for growth this year. Look for the silver linings, however small they may be in comparison to what we have lost. A tiny speck of light can show us the way through the darkness.

You cannot have something new if you still use the old way of thinking, to paraphrase Einstein. At least we can say this year has given us a new perspective, a new way of thinking, and made each of us take a close look at our lives, at what is working and not working. You probably know yourself better now than you did in January, and that is worth celebrating.

We did not go where we intended to go, 2021 was still not the year any of us wanted to have, but we are where we need to be. Look forward and prepare for what comes next.

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