12/30/13

Happy 2014

In honor of 2014, I thought I'd do some quick research to see what we might look forward to, and learned some highlights will be:

February 7-23, The 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia

August 24, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will cross the orbit of Neptune after traveling for over eight years. (New Horizons is scheduled to reach its mission target, Pluto, in 2015.

December 31, the US and the UK will officially withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, marking the end of their 13-year involvement in the Afghan Civil War.

Also likely is that Moore's Law of continuous microchip miniaturization will become obsolete in 2014 due to economic constraints, and a commercial cure for baldness is predicted. Likely there'll be plenty of other triumphs and challenges that  Wikipedia can't predict. 

Something that stands out for me is that NASA's new horizon spaceship is scheduled to reach it's mission target, Pluto, next year, after nine years of travel and unknown years of launch preparation. The other examples have also required years to manifest. The point is, it's fine and often necessary to flow with what comes; but if we know we want to go to Pluto someday, we might not want to wait till someday to begin the journey. 

What does your Pluto look like, and what needs to be done to get there? 
I hope that 2014 is the year we all move towards our highest creative goals with intention, intelligence, and continued inspiration. Why wait, let's begin right now. 

                                            Happy New Year 

12/23/13

Skepticism

Not every idea is a good idea.
Can you just hear my loved ones telling me what they think of this one?
"Oh, boy, what's she going to think of next? We better not have to pull a sleigh..."
Sometimes loved ones aren't the best to screen a creative idea, as we can be more sensitive to their critique. Sometimes, if it's something really dear to us, it's best to carry on despite their skepticism. Best is when we all agree this is worth spending time on. 

Here's wishing you and your loved ones Happy Holidays. 
Despite our differences, let's agree that the important thing is to do our best to enjoy the moments and create harmony and loving joy together.
 

12/16/13

Frozen

Being stuck creatively is like being frozen. 
We feel like we can't go on, or we don't know how to move next, or like we're caught in a rigid pattern. When we remember to focus on what's positive and on what we can do, we might be able to start to look beyond the ice, see what's most beautiful, and begin again on what's possible now.
This winter, maybe try seeing beyond the cold and darkness and instead focus on what's light and heart warming. When we create from these higher places, we create our best. 

12/2/13

Newborn

Building an idea and bringing it to it's best fruition 
can be a little like birthing a baby. 
Your initial concept is the seed. If it's a good one, it then needs to be planted in fertile ground. Only by nurturing this seed and sending it the positive energy it deserves can it grow and come to a healthy life. 
Newborn, swaddled, and fed, it may continue to expand into it's full potential.
Think of ways you can better nourish whatever you're trying to create today. 
For starters, try enjoying it, maybe even loving it, and give it your full attention through encouraging words, thoughts, and actions. Find support where needed. Having given it your best and time, who knows how it may grow? 

11/25/13

Gratitude

As I prepare to celebrate this Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for health, family, friends, abundance, creativity, choices, strengths, confidence, love, joy, compassion, life... the list goes on... this moment. I've developed the habit each morning of going outdoors (usually barefoot) and while waiting for my puppy to do her business, I take a little time to practice gratitude for all I see and can think of. At this time of year, that often requires ignoring my cold feet as I melt the frost beneath them, and instead focusing on my grateful heart. 

 Gratitude is just one practice that grounds and inspires me, 
and acts like a doorway to today's creative possibilities. 
It's also the best way I know to create an inner, open, joyful space
and feel energized to say "Yes!" and meet whatever arrives on today's path.
Here's hoping you, too, have much to be grateful for and that it leads you in creative ways. 

11/18/13

Curiosity

Stuck?

To get a new answer, try asking a better question

Creativity can start by being curious and curiouser!
 


11/11/13

Child's Eye

Have you ever let a child borrow your digital camera 
and just sat back and watched their creative process? 

                They often begin snapping pictures by imitating what they've seen others doing.
They may go bananas snapping all in sight as they experiment.
 To a child with a camera, everything is photo-worthy.
     A child doesn't edit subject from surroundings, and doesn't try to get it straight or "right."
They absorb it and take it all in, from their perspective, without judgement, just enjoying.

We can take several inspirations from a child with a camera. First, let's create environments that are worth captivating our children's focus. Second, let's remember that our children have no filter and see from an innocent, broad and open view. If stuck exploring something new, maybe start by imitating someone or something that's been successful, and move from there, sweeping broadly before narrowing. A creative block buster could be taking photos from your 5 year old height, and just have fun and see what arises from a new perspective. 

11/4/13

Right, Wrong, or Original?

Are you trying to create a perfect creative solution for something in your life? 
Perhaps it's a new assignment at work, an illustration on a short timeline, a home renovation project, or an attempt to develop a more peaceful relation with a coworker or family member. 
Maybe you have no idea how to best approach it. 
Maybe you've been trying so hard and you want, maybe even need, so badly to get this one right, that you feel stuck and have no idea how to proceed. Or possibly you have many ideas, no way of knowing which will be best, and only one chance to get it right. 
Worry, fear of being wrong, and perfectionism all block the creative process. Instead, see if you can pause, get still, and approach from a place of inner ease. When we trust our intuition and move effortlessly, that's when our best, original creativity happens. 

"If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original." Ken Robertson

5/9/13

Many Hats

What's a 
yogi/teacher/writer/artist/scientist/musician/
grandma/mom/wife/sister/daughter 
to do next? 


First, take a great big inhalation.


Second, take heart that it's ok to have many roles, as long as there's balance.


 Next, examine and refocus my energy and eliminate pseudo-procrastination and distractions.
And continue, one step at a time, with faith that I'm moving forward on my path, 
even if there's times it may feel a bit slippery.

I just returned from a month in NYC caring for my grandson 
and largely staying away from my normal routine. 
I had a great time being paid in baby giggles, 
and began examining what I want to continue doing, 
what I want to stop doing, and what I want to start doing more of. 

How about you, what might you do more of or less of to achieve your next creative goal? 

3/27/13

Words on Writing

Last weekend I attended GLVWG's Write Stuff Writer's Conference in Allentown, PA. I found a wonderful group of creative souls attending and gained a lot of support, encouragement, and valuable feedback. The seminars I attended, which were presented by Jane Friedman, Jeanette WindleCarol Wedeven, Jon Gibbs, and Lee Upton, were all valuable. It was a compact weekend chock full of relevant information for anyone interested in improving their writing and expanding their audience. With the rise of e-publishing and e-retailing, the worlds of publishing and book distribution and sales are evolving rapidly. My biggest takeaways were that it's easier than ever to be published because we can do it ourselves, but it's more challenging to successfully have one's work widely distributed and read. One must be skillful and original in their genre, and stand out uniquely and visibility through effective platforming and networking. I came home with an abundance of notes to sift into a workable "DO LIST" and an overwhelming sense of compulsion towards continuing to learn and focusing towards my highest strengths, interests, and goals. 
I wonder, instead of publishing because we can, what would happen if we publish only when we can't not? What if we share only what's most important for us to express? This way, with our writings containing our hearts' depths, maybe the audience will continue arriving. 

3/7/13

Wow!

When I woke this morning, my first thought was, 
"Wow, I'm alive!"
My second was surprise at my thought. 
After all, we generally expect to wake up each morning, don't we 
Still, I was so delighted, I considered waking my husband to share my joy. 


Let's never become  accustomed to the gift of our finite physical life. 
Instead, let's celebrate with wonder, awe, and gratitude and create out of our strengths today.

2/20/13

Beginning Practice

Practice is an important part of the creative process. Even if you're not into yoga, many of the principles below can be applied to whatever you intend to create. 

Recently a student asked how to approach a daily home yoga practice. The short answer is, "It depends on where you're starting from, how much time you have, and what your intention is." 
Here's  my one-and-a-half year old granddaughter, who spontaneously rolled out a mat, took Downward Facing Dog pose, and announced, "Nini doing Brown Dog." 

This brings up the most important tip: Just roll out your mat and begin. Beginning is always the first step. 

Here's several suggestions to keep you going: 
  • Schedule your practice. Set a dedicated time and place, and do it. 
  • Start either seated, kneeling, laying on your back, standing, or in child's pose. Devote at least a few minutes to get still, to focus awareness away from your thinking mind and into your heart center, to set an intention, and to observe and deepen your breathing.
  • Begin to move with your breath, and always from your center and core tall. Move slowly at first to warm up. 
  • Work for length and strength as well as for flexibility and balance. 
  • Listen to your breath, let the movement fill into the breath, and keep the breath steady and easy. Never strain anything, and rest if you need to. 
  • On a particular day, try concentrating on hip openers, twists, core strengthening, heart opening, balance, or inversions. As time permits, incorporate some sun salutations or at least 1 type of standing pose, hip opener, forward fold, twist, balance, backbend, and inversion. 
  • Try to follow a pose with a counterpose. Example: After a back bend, a forward fold. If in doubt what to do next, add a gentle twist between poses, opening from your center. 
  • Only move as far as is right for you today, rest if needed, and remember to listen to your inner teacher. 
  • Give yourself enough time to sink into final relaxation for at least 5 minutes. 
  • Most importantly, move with loving kindness towards yourself, remembering "No pain is no pain."
I recommend attending class with an experienced teacher at least once a week to ensure you're developing good habits of breathing, moving, and posture and to encourage you towards greater openings. 
Any creative practice, from painting to inventing, can be approached like yoga if we free the time and space, set a clear intention, move with the breath and focus, take breaks as needed, and move without struggle. 

Have fun and enjoy your practice!

2/6/13

Sometimes...

Anything can be our inspiration to create, 
even something as simple as a handful of blueberries.
Sometimes you just need to bake a cheesecake. And drizzle on some honey, chocolate, or fruit syrup. And make it pretty by topping it with a swirly design of blueberries. And maybe even dollop your serving with fresh whipped cream. And enjoy every bite, slowly and deliberately. 

Not too often, but sometimes... 

1/30/13

Serendipity

Sometimes happy accidents come along that bring usefulness that we weren't searching for. What might at first appear to be a failed experiment or result, might turn out to be the solution to a different project or an entirely different problem we didn't know we had. 

After my morning shower, I recently stepped outside to walk my dog. 
It was unusually cold and windy, and I felt something a little odd. 
I reached up and realized my hair had frozen solid. 
I tousled my hair and shook out all the ice, then stepped inside to 
discover I now had a perfect, freeze-dried hair style. 
Could this be the start of a new invention? I can see it now, a simple device that gets held over a wet head, and instantly freezes one's hair. Just think, no more frizz, no more heat damage! Not only that, it would simultaneously give a dose of powerful icy Yin energy. Maybe I'll do some market research and hop onto a plane to China to see who can manufacture this for me. 
Hmmm, on the other hand, maybe one could just stick their head in the freezer. 

After evaluation, all serendipitous ideas aren't going to pay off. However, if we're attentive and learn to capture these surprises and random thoughts, perhaps in time 
something really novel and worthwhile will result.

Here's hoping you have a day filled with creative serendipity.

1/23/13

Do It

To some, creative possibilities come so quickly that little actual creating gets done. This is fine if we have a team working the execution end and our job is ideating, or if we're in an incubating phase. Otherwise, we can get lost in a sea of "gonna do's,"  "gonna makes," and "to do's," losing our best inspirations to cloud nine. Also, if unfocused, energy can get lost on lesser parallel tasks, fixin' to work rather than sustaining meaningful effort on something larger.
 It's wise to have a system to capture ideas quickly when the muse comes. I love paper, you can fold it, cut it, color it, paste it, mix it up, crumple it, toss it, and otherwise jot things quickly. I often capture sketches and thoughts in small unlined journals, which I keep by my bed, in my purse, in my car, and on my desk. I also carry a camera since you never know what you might find as you go. Others find it easier to capture things directly to their smart devices. One day a week, I filter through my journals and photos, delete what's not useful, and capture the best either in a project binder or in a google docs file. Even if much of this won't get used as is or ever, it creates a great idea file towards future inspiration and development.

The rest of the week, I schedule time to actively focus on my next blog entry, yoga class, painting, or whatever I'm actively creating today. I also always have at least one worthwhile long term creative project that I'm focusing energy towards daily. This way, it may only be a banana bread that I complete today, but with time, I'll create something more substantial to share. 
There's a time to muse and a time to do. Now go do that thing you dream of doing.

1/9/13

Row Your Boat

What if we were to struggle every time a chore or challenge confronted us? 
What if, instead, we learned to move from our most positive attitude and with ease, 
even when it feels difficult?

Getting to the essence of wisdom in a playful or simple way doesn't make us simpletons. Profound truths don't need a lot of verbiage, they just need to stick in our hearts. 
Maybe "Row Row Row Your Boat" is just a silly child's song; or from it, perhaps we can teach ourselves and our children a better way to travel the stream of life: flowing and merrily, one row at a time.

This is it. The life we're living is our stream and our actions are our boat. It's not helpful to look around envying others' boats. Within the boundaries of our circumstances, we can paint our boat however we prefer, and aim it wherever we'd like. We're only asked to row our own boat, merrily and with ease, so we can live our dream. 

Next time you're in a funk over something, I invite you to try getting 
silly singing this song, and carry on from there. 

1/4/13

Recreating the Heart of the Home

 After 25 years in our budget-built home, and with things breaking daily, we decided it was time to upgrade to a quality kitchen. Though we still loved the overall look and feel, 
we were tired of avalanches, leaks, and permanent stains. There was nowhere left to duct-tape, glue, staple, or screw our particle board drawers. Hardware had come undone, our appliances were semi-dysfunctional, and it was time for an overhaul. 



Sticking with the existing footprint, we obsessed about choices of contractors, colors, and materials. The more we looked, the more possibilities we dreamed up. At some point, it became clear that we'd have to stick to a budget and go with our gut to get this project completed. We decided a modern, earthy, artsy atmosphere would fit us well and hopefully any future owner of this house. A little nervous about getting away from the bright almond color, I finally realized the choices we make would be the only ones we would know for now; besides, it's just a kitchen: important to be functional; preferable to be beautiful; and mostly a space for nourishing the heart of the home. 
 The kitchen itself is not the heart. Our family and friends bring the heart as we share meals.
There are lots of nice kitchens, and I wish we could have seen all the options we imagined, but we really like our new one. We are now enjoying filling it with lots of love.