Helping You Create Your Best At Home, At Work, and in Life


Count your Successes

Though 2020 has been challenging, it's also given an opportunity to examine what we want to continue doing and what to let go of. Despite all the stress, loss, uncertainty, distancing, and difficulties, let's also look back and count our personal growth and successes this year. 

I'll go first: Social distancing left me with lots more time to create. While missing friends and family, I wrote, illustrated, and self-published my first children's picture book and learned to make and post a YouTube video of it. I revised and kept up with this weekly blog, improved my watercolor technique, started teaching myself guitar, learned the ProCreate digital art app for iPad, and learned to teach yoga and mindfulness through Zoom. I stayed in touch with family and friends in new ways, and though I couldn't be with them often, I was able to help some of my grandchildren with their learning. 

It's creating that helped me deal with the anxiety of the year and keep going. One day early on, I even figured out a way to turn newspaper into clean and soft enough toilet paper substitute, just in case (lol, no, I didn't actually try it out; but you can rinse most of the ink out of newspaper quickly, crumple it up, uncrumple, let it dry, cut and roll onto old TP rolls, and it might do the trick in a serious pinch. If nothing else, it quelled my fear of running out of TP. I haven't run out– besides, a simple squirt bottle would probably do the trick easier. So now maybe I'll explore other uses for all that saved newspaper). Beyond physical creativity, and more importantly, I think I've become a little more courageous, a little more resilient, a little stronger even; because though all the uncertainty remains and reminds me daily of my human vulnerability and mortality, I can celebrate that, today, I'm still vibrantly alive and will use my energy the best I can.

Hopefully you, too, can list accomplishments and all the new ways you've found to get by, let go, and be creative with parenting, schooling, working, playing, healing, activism, etc. Even if it was as simple as, "I survived despite the stress" let's all celebrate creatively getting through 2020. 


Explore Your Shadows


It's that darkest time of year again now that we've passed winter solstice. 2020's been a particularly gloomy year where we've had to confront so much of our shadow side- illness, death, social injustice and unrest, economic struggles, etc. causing most of us deep and mixed emotions including anxiety, anger, grief and fear. Facing short, colder days can exaggerate our darker feelings. We can ignore these messages, or explore them and see what we learn. Once we stop resisting, difficult feelings can pass like clouds clearing on a dreary day. 

Avoided emotions often store in our bodies as lower, slower energies, and these contribute to our physical pains and illnesses. Instead, we can look deep within and try to feel them with full attention, and face and release these from the inside. As we move, we can bring our inner awareness to the places in our bodies that feel pain and stress, and just stop, rest there, feel what messages they have for us and invite them to release. We can move slowly in whatever way feels best, and pause whenever we feel tension, relaxing or backing out as needed or inviting softness where we feel strong sensation. When we relax into these tighter places, things can start to open inside us, and we begin to heal both our physical and emotional pain.  

During this solstice time in this pandemic year, let's courageously continue to face the dark clouds of our personal and collective loss, emotions, and circumstances. And as the clouds pass, let's look forward to brighter days. Please stay well and enjoy your holidays in whatever way you can! 


Take Chances


Often the next step feels uncertain.
We don't want to mess up the artwork we've begun, have lots of ways we might finish it, and don't want to make a choice that ruins it. Or, we don't really know which way to proceed at work, and feel pressured for time and results. Usually there's options of how to move forward– so we need to get comfortable taking intelligent risks. It's taking that next step, or that jump, that shows us how it will turn out. No one wants to fail, and uncertainty makes us feel vulnerable; yet not taking chances keeps us stuck and not progressing. So gather your choices, eliminate the ones you can, push through indecision, and take a leap on the option that might offer you the best possibilities and outcome. 
How can you take a leap in what you're creating today? 


Be Powerful With Your Words


The power of words is enormous. We probably all have memories to disprove the old children's ditty, "Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me." Words, like everything else, carry creative energy. When we speak with love, kindness, thoughtfulness, and concern for others, we can discuss difficult topics, hear one another's viewpoints, and cooperate to create unity and solutions. When we lash out words with fear, anger, impatience, arrogance, or self righteousness, we can cause further division and pain, creating larger problems. 

Both these types of communication are prevalent in our relations and on social media. It's so easy to quickly jot off our first thought and hit publish; or to verbally vent out our frustrations. Instead, we can practice speaking and writing with clarity, honesty, and brevity, sharing our messages in ways that others won't feel offended, bullied or disempowered. Our words are powerful, and when we use them well, they're better heard and more impactful. Let's do sweet tweets and posts, speaking our truth with kindness. Let's pause and breathe and be gatekeepers to our words, especially when we're overwhelmed and they want to fly out. Please don't stifle your thoughts, feelings, and words; instead, remember how powerfully creative they are and use them to help create unity rather than division and to manifest your dreams. 




Sometimes, we're just not ready to create. We need to learn more, practice, develop our skills, mature, and become inspired. We create best when we're prepared, our intention is strong, and we feel determined. Creativity is largely about readiness: When ripened, we can dig in and get to it. Experiment with what time of day is best to maximize your creative energy, and find that sweet spot each day to practice and create. 


Create Joy With Gratitude


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. As I prepare to celebrate this Thanksgiving at home with just my husband this year, I'm grateful for health, family, friends, abundance, creativity, choices, strengths, confidence, love, joy, compassion, life... the list goes on... I'm thankful to feel grateful in this moment. 

Like John Tierney reported in this New York Times articlepsychologists have shown that "cultivating an "attitude of gratitude" has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life, and kinder behavior toward others." All worthwhile things to focus on creating within ourselves!

When we feel our grateful hearts and enjoy our blessings, we become happier. Grateful, happy people can help create a happier world. In my yoga classes, I often offer a gratitude meditation, inviting students to visualize someone they're thankful for, and to then feel themselves radiating gratitude from their heart towards this person. Maybe try that now for a few moments, and feel it deeply. Starting with a thankful heart, see how well you create this day. 

Wishing you a terrific Thanksgiving  and well-being for you, your family, and our world.



You are Essential

When we feel overwhelmed and like we'd like to make more positive impact in our world, it's important to remember that though we can't do everything, we can do our part and be a force for change. Whenever you share yourself, time, talents, and resources, 
"You are doing something vital... like a piece of beautiful colored glass in Cathedral window. Even the tiniest piece is essential to the whole!"  (Angela Farmer, scroll to end of blog to learn about her)

Each of us is significant. Imagine if the pieces in the Cathedral window were all the same shape, color, and size? Diversity uniting– combining strengths and differences to act together with others– is powerfully creative! Imagine missing pieces, who didn't show up because they thought they weren't enough? And, just as colorful pieces let the light shine through, we help brighten the world when we share our best.

The Cathedral window analogy also brings to mind that majestic cathedrals were built over hundreds of years, "by many who would never see their work completed or admired, but knew their labor was worthwhile." (Susan Harley) The Notre Dame Cathedral, for example, took about 300 years to complete: That's about 10 generations of people working towards a common cause, with each person's contribution integral to the cathedral's wholeness. 

Whether we're raising children, farming, teaching, inventing, healing, making art, working towards justice, or any other act, our part is enough. We can give our best and know we're making a positive difference. Whatever you create– and as you do what you can, while you can, from where you are– please remember you're a vital piece of the whole. 

Angela Farmer lives on the beautiful island of Lesvos, where ~13000 refugees are suffering in sub-human conditions while waiting for asylum in the EU. Angela, Susan, Linda, and others are helping as many of these people as possible. We are raising funds, 100% which will go towards supporting a mother and her young children. Please consider making a one time or ongoing contribution. You can contact me or donate at Linda's GoFundMe. Thank you!


Inquire Within Yourselfl

It's great to be aware of all that's around us and what others are up to, and it's easy to let our senses pull us to all that we see and hear around us. If we overdo looking outside of ourselves and at what other people are creating, we can derail our creative goals with doubt, envy, and indecision. We conjure up our best when connected with our deepest inner self. Today try taking a more time to get still and look within yourself. You can watch how your body feels, and how your breath, thoughts, and feelings are quickly moving and shifting, In time, practicing mindfully like this helps you come to know yourself, your patterns, and your deepest desires. 

Remember to pause and tap in with frequent self inquiry to get in touch with your deepest goals. Try moving more from the inside, out. Self-directing and creating from our center is where we find our best answers. 


Enjoy What's Sweet

We can make lemonade from lemons, squeezing out our best and looking to stretch scarcity and brighten difficulties. And we can look for and enjoy what's already wonderful around us, even while exploring continuous improvements. 

What could get better than apple pie out of tart fall apples? Recently I started making pies with just a top crust, and because I'm gluten free, I've discovered that adding some cheddar cheese to the dough makes it easier to roll, better textured, and even tastier. With a nice crisp crust on top, and no bottom crust to get soggy, pies taste more delicious and feel healthier. 

How can you apply creativity to enhance something you already enjoy today? If you have apples, why not make some apple pie? 


Ask "Why?

  2. There's so much to be surprised about and admire in our world, especially when we're met with new, unexpected, beautiful, surprising, or inexplicable things, people, or events. There's also lots to wonder about when we encounter things we fear, object to, and are unjust. 
  3. As children, we constantly looked around and asked "Why?". Rather than becoming complacent, it's important to stay connected to our childlike wonder, be curious, and question often, keeping judgement at bay. This helps us sensitively inform our creative decisions. Take time to notice, admire, and be inspired by what came before us and the marvels of nature. Allow opportunities for betterment to motivate you to further action.

  4. We can always look a little deeper and with fresh eyes at what's around us and deepen our perspective and understanding. Question often, asking "What's working well and what 's not?" in your habits and practices. Wonder often, "What can I do differently, or how can I contribute to make this better or be the change I want to see?" Then keep applying your talents and creativity. 


Do What You Can

I cannot say this better than one of my favorite people, role model, and yoga teacher, Angela Farmer: 

    "Everywhere we look in the world at this time, there are disasters with people, animals, forests, oceans in desperate, life-threatening situations...and mostly due to our Human Species. It would be wonderful to change all this and help everyone and is overwhelming. My only solution to some kind of sanity and feeling that I can do something...[maybe Invisible to the world view but like our Yoga practice...just a millimeter of opening, release, unwinding.... is worth everything]. My solution is to help one person, one animal, one tree, write one protest at a time."

None of us can do everything, but we can all do something. We can all be a force for change when we help in any way. How do you find ways to create positive change or help one other being?

Angela lives on the beautiful island of Lesvos, where ~13000 refugees are suffering in sub-human conditions while waiting for asylum in the EU. Angela and others are helping as many of these people as possible. We are raising funds, 100% which will go towards supporting a mother and her young children. Please consider making a one time or ongoing contribution. You can contact me or donate at this GoFundMe. Thank you!


Beware Distraction

For us creatives, it's sometimes easy to get distracted by a new idea and start chasing it rather than sticking to the way or thing we were working on. When this happens, it can lead us to wonderful new exploratory directions and discoveries that might speed our process or later help us in our creative endeavors; or it might lead us down a rabbit hole that slows and detracts us from our goal. When you watch and stay aware of these distractions, or "rabbit holes," you can consciously choose whether they're worth spending time on. If they are, venture into them with curiosity and focus. Sometimes we need rabbit holes for new solutions. Just pay attention, go into rabbit holes with determination, don't get stuck in a rabbit hole, and come out refreshed and ready to apply new learnings. 


Create Self Improvement

The Mexican axolotl, on the brink of extinction, can miraculously regenerate and heal itself as it injures or loses body parts. Though we humans can't usually regrow lost limbs and parts, we can often create a great deal of healing within ourselves and change the parts we want to improve. When we learn where we're stuck in our thoughts, feelings, and actions, we can work to expand and find growth from the inside out, becoming healthier, kinder, more patient, or anything else we work towards. We can begin to transform sluggish, stuck energy to vibrancy by thinking more positively, by noticing where we clench and tighten in our bodies, and by allowing for whatever emotions arise and feeling their messages fully. Simply and purposely taking some deep breaths; relaxing fully; moving in new ways; smiling; singing; dancing; reaching out a helping hand to others; or thinking a happier thought on purpose are all ways to begin healing and transformation towards creating your best and healthiest self. 


Create Space for Pause

It's important to have goals to aim our creative energy. If we don't plan and take steps towards our goal, we won't get there. On the other hand, when we use a planner or approach each day with a To-Do List, we can chase after the details towards the goals and lose sight of why and how we're doing what we do; or we can get caught up in the steps and obstacles along the way and get thrown off track. So it's also important to create space to stop, to pause, to reflect. Reflecting helps us create and define worthwhile goals, and also to remember and stay focused on our largest goals. Reflect often to keep your priorities in perspective and better use your creativity.  


Reach Out To Others

One of the most important things we can create is healthy relationships. Knowing who we can rely on and who will not let us down in a time of need, who will hear us when we need an ear, helps us to feel connected and remain calm, even during times of challenge and crisis. While the pandemic spreads and fires rage, while policies of fear and hatred abound, sometimes it's hard to remember that the most valuable thing is our lives together. None of us is alone, and we remember every time we stick together and reach out to others. 


Create Your Life Day By Day

Life is our greatest gift. When we stop to smell the flowers, to enjoy what's before us, 
to create this day as best we can moment by moment, we honor and celebrate life. The white lily symbolizes rebirth and rejuvenation of the soul, and can be a reminder that each day, as we become aware of our first waking breath, it's like we're given a new beginning. We can approach the day habitually and with drudgery, or we can bring new zest, a positive attitude, and focused energy. Notice and pause as needed throughout the day to bring your awareness back to the moment and to stay present in all you do. We create our lives day by day, so see how you can create this day, choosing to live life as a celebration, regardless of circumstances around you. 


Create True to You

Whether inventing, cooking, healing, making art, constructing, dancing, designing a wardrobe, or creating in any way, we always start with what's before us. We can learn from and imitate the masters, and we can copy and "steal like an artist," expanding on what already exists. Because so much of creativity comes from seeing and spring-boarding from what others have done, it's important to stay centered in who you are, enjoy the process of creating, and stay authentic and true to your message or intention for creating. We are all creative, and we are all unique. Be the beautiful star you are, and grow and create from there. 


Make Lemonade from Lemons

In this year of 2020 with August over, summer ending, coronavirus carrying on, political division, social unrest, and more... it can feel overwhelming, and easy to become pessimistic or feel like things are getting worse. Where there's problems– there's lots of opportunity to discover and apply creative solutions all around. We can hole up and shut down and feel anxious or defeated, or we can remember the adage to turn lemons into lemonade. None of us can recreate and solve everything, but each of us can find what refreshes and energizes us, and work on creating our best, according to our passions, strengths and resources. Extra time staying home? What can you create from there? Together we can share and enjoy the fruits of our efforts. Carry on, and squeeze out your best, seizing this day! 


Take a Break

Knowing when to take a break is important. When you're feeling anxious or creating feels stuck or forced, take time off to renew and enjoy some sweet moments. Refreshed, you'll come back
 feeling relaxed and inspired, and you can move towards creating effortlessly again. How many sweet moments can you enjoy today?


See the Big Picture

Remember to keep the goal in sight when you're creating: Usually that means the expectation of a new skill or product of some sort, whether it's in a similar style to what you normally make or something completely new. While beginning, it helps to look wide, them make sweeping decisions, eliminating materials and methods and choosing the ones that will most likely optimize your outcome. 

For instance, if you want to expand on how you paint, rather than sticking to emulating one master, you can dabble with tutorials in a variety of styles. Trying lots of ways increases the skills in your toolbox, and from there, in time, your own style will eventually emerge as you mix and combine your favorite techniques with your own hand. The same goes for writing, playing music, making new products, or any other creative endeavor. 

It's so easy to get lost in the little details when creating. Starting broadly helps keep the possibilities wide, then reducing the less favorable variables helps you get toward your goal. Keep your eye on the big picture, and carry on. 


Dig Up Creative Inspiration

Do you ever see what others are creating and wonder how they got their idea or wish you'd thought of that? Or do you ever get stuck in a dry spell where the ideas stop flowing? 

One way to stimulate creativity is to go "treasure hunting." This can be done almost anywhere, from a store to the shore. The idea is to have an intention of what you need a creative solution for, and then to look around deeply, preferably in new places, and make lists, take photos, or gather things that are odd, beautiful, have something novel about them, or that inspire or call you in some way. These ideas can then be examined to see if new associations can be made between them. Children do this naturally while playing, using what's around them and repurposing and combining things as needed. For instance, kids often turn rocks, pinecones, seashells, feathers, and other natural found objects into everything from game pieces to fairy lands. Or they search through their Grandma's cedar chest and desk drawers to discover cool, forgotten objects that they suddenly can find a new use for. 

Those of us who have grown up may need to work a little harder to come into the mindset of looking for treasures and recombining or expanding on them to get new ideas, products, or solutions. Try going on a treasure hunt today to get new ideas towards a problem you're looking to solve. 


Create Joy

Scientists have proven that happiness is contagious. And happy people have stronger immune systems and stay healthier. Even during difficult times, thinking kind, happy thoughts on purpose help create happiness, because body, mind, and emotions are always connected. 

Sometimes a smile is all that's needed to bring a little joy to others, too. Enjoy creating from a happy heart today, and see where you can spread a little happiness. Not sure what to create? Just start with a smile, and see what follows. 


Take Care of Your Creative Babies

Our creative endeavors are like our babies, we need to focus on them and keep them safe from harm till they're ready to be on their own in the world. Once they're out there, some will travel wide, others will stay closer to home. Regardless of how far what you create may spread, at least by birthing and protecting your most precious projects, they get their chance in the world. If your creative spark hatches into something that makes one person's life better, then your time has been spent well. If it brings you joy while making it, it's been worthwhile. What we create matters, enjoy the process and protect what's precious. 


Create Trust

Who or what do you trust? And how can we create trust in a world filled with uncertainty, especially when we've all experienced various levels of individual and collective trauma and there are so many points of view?

Without trust, fear blocks our hearts and minds and we become reactive. So it's important to surrender our fear and feel like maybe things will work out. Even during a pandemic. Even when our world views may be expanding or challenged. Even when the world feels like it's turned upside down. 

We can trust that some people are trustworthy enough that we can rely on them. Maybe science, and love, and nature, and intelligence and collective healing will help bring a new balance to our world. Maybe our inspired ideas will come together as solutions if we stick with them, with care and trust. Let's co-create it well. 


Create Resiliency

Do you stay inflated and bounce when things go wrong, or do you deflate and get stopped? When we get down on ourselves, we project failure and doubt and it's hard to create anything from a "can't do" mindset. When we keep a growth mindset, instead we say "I can't do this... yet," or "I'll do better next time," and we keep at it. 

Resiliency, like everything else, grows stronger from practice. We can let mistakes, failures, and wrong turns keep us down, or we can bounce back and try again. The more things we try, the more we learn how much we can begin again, if not on this project, maybe on something better. 

If at first your creative efforts don't work out or feel a little bumpy, you can bounce back. It might not take you in the same direction as before. Who knows, it might even be better. 


The Secret Ingredient in Creativity

Love: The secret ingredient to everything, the magic juice, the highest energy, and what it's all about. 

Love yourself. 

Love who you're with. 

Love your family, your friends, your coworkers, and even the difficult people in your life. 

Love what you do. 

As much as is possible, do what you love. 

And if you're not loving what you're doing, see what you can change, either from a step in a new direction, or from a more loving place within yourself. Add a little love to whatever you're doing right now, and you might not just create a better day, you may also improve your choices, relationships, work, art, and life... 

See how much you can create today with love in your heart, and with heart and head connected. 

Love that you're you, love that you're creating. 

Creating from the heart, you just might touch other's hearts with what you create. And maybe you'll even love what you create. Love creating today. 


Create Nurturing

Raising others means creating a nurturing environment that fosters growth, health, well-being, and learning. It's continually lifting them, from where they are to somewhere higher. It's helping them become their best, most competent, confident, and whole person, who grows to contribute and to nourish themselves and others. 

Whenever we make healthy choices and feed and lift ourselves in positive ways, it sets an example to help raise our children and those around us. Choosing to consume wisely, prioritizing what's most important like health and relationships, always being curious and present, speaking in ways you like to be spoken to, being kind and compassionate, practicing patience and discipline, these are more ways of lifting yourself and those who watch you. 

How do you create nourishment for yourself and others? 


Create Positive Change

All of nature is diverse. How boring life would be if we were all exactly alike, with equal capabilities, looking and doing the same as everyone else. Despite outer appearances, we're all much more the same than different, with similar physical and emotional needs, and deserving fair, humane treatment while we pursue creating our happiest lives for the short time we're here. 

How do we create a more just society, where all people have equal access to the basic necessities of life, where laws and enforcement are fair and applied equally to everyone, and where marginalized people get the help they need? Creating positive societal change begins with each of us. We can look deeply within and find the places where we fear or ignore "other," where we don't understand or support one another, and where we numb from difficult emotions and situations. Understanding our own strengths and weaknesses, unique experiences, and points of view informs how we think, speak, and act. We can all ask, "How can I stand up for and contribute to creating a fair and just society?" We can celebrate our diversity and use our creativity to help lift, heal, and unite people.

How do you best use your talents and uniqueness to create positive change?  


Create Nourishment

As I checked on my little vegetable garden today, it felt good knowing I'm growing healthy food to feed myself and my husband. (He might argue he's growing it for me... whatever). 

And I started thinking on nourishment and what it means. It's more than just food and clean water. Once we have our basic physical needs met, we need to feed our minds and hearts as well. When we do, we can nurture our best selves, feeding our imaginations, learning, feeling authentic and whole, engaged and in sync. We nourish ourselves whenever we practice healthy habits, consuming wholesome media, questioning deeply, understanding one another's points of view, immersing in nature, seeing beauty around us, and staying positive. And of course, creating and making art. 

Feeding ourselves also means having the means to feed ourselves. Choosing to work, even if it's not an ideal job or nourishing in itself, allows us to earn, to have choices, and to meet our physical needs. Supporting ourselves, we can continue moving towards nurturing and aligning our entire being. 

One person's nourishment might not work as well for another, but we can each create and follow what feeds us today, what serves us for the future, what lifts us up, and what helps us create healthy bodies, minds, and spirits. I hope you have a nourishing day, whatever that looks like for you!


Create Unplugged Time

Summer's almost officially here, and it's a great time to get outdoors, look up and see the sky in the day, and gaze at the stars at night. When I think of childhood summers, I recall spending almost every day outdoors all day long, playing, biking, swimming, and sitting on the beach reading or chatting with friends for hours.  

Speaking of chatting, I recently spoke on the phone to a 40-ish year old dear person, and at the end of the conversation, said, "It's been great chatting and catching up." She laughed, and said "We didn't chat," and corrected me, saying that chatting is done with our fingers and a keyboard on a device. Well, hmmm. Where on earth did the word chat come from? It used to mean talking to one another, and was invented long before computers! As I confirm with Google, I find it's origin is Middle English, from the 1550's, and is a shortening of chatter, or to "converse familiarly."

Yes, I'm on the computer right now, again. It's a great creative space, and everything's at our finger tips, even chatting. So many things we can do plugged in, and so many things we avoid doing while plugged in, like giving full presence to whatever or whoever is around us. I spend a little too much time here these days, and so will experiment with less is more. I'm off to paint en plein air, and going to try giving myself designated device time for awhile to see what I can create with the time I free up. 

What might you create with less time on devices? Maybe give unplugging a whirl, and see what you can use the saved time for. 


Snuggle to Boost Calm and Immunity

Us human beings have many innate needs. Not only do we need to be together, but it can be very healing to be touched and hugged. If you're fortunate to live with others or pets, spend time daily hugging, holding, and helping one another to feel supported and well. Simply holding hands, or giving a little back or foot rub also helps. It's good for you and for them.

Why? Beneath our skin is our fascia, a gel-like connective tissue that’s the largest organ in our body. The skin and fascia contain many nerve endings, so when we’re held or massaged it’s very calming to our nervous systems. Squeezes and massage can also help to keep our lymph moving, important for creating and maintaining a strong immune system.

No people or pets around? No worries, you can hug yourself, roll on foam rollers or do self-massage to work the fascia, relax the nervous system, and keep your lymphatic system healthy. 

As you create today, remember to create and practice habits and support for a healthy you. Be well!


Create Inner Stillness

Sometimes after a creative flurry it's time to reconnect within, get still, and wait for inspiration for what's next. That' what I'm doing today. Creating inner stillness is always a good start to the day, and the best place to create from. Maybe try pausing and touch base often within yourself, too, while you create this day. 


Mix It Up

If you've found your unique creative way and it's working for you and you're enjoying it, yay, you, keep going! Yet, if we lock ourselves in to just one approach, technique, or way, we may get in a rut, doing the same thing over and over, and possibly distancing ourselves from a further Eureka! or masterpiece. 

I've been most comfortable sketching in ink then watercoloring, it's my go to method when capturing an idea. Recently, what with extra time while socially distancing, I took out all my art supplies (and I'm a bit of a hoarder in this department; I've had some of these materials for decades, mostly unused; and even included a set of Neocolor II crayons that I was given as a child when I was in solitary recovering from scarlet fever). I found an untitled painting by Ozz Franca and decided to try recreating it, or something slightly like it, with every art material I own. I started a new sketchbook, aiming to just play and experiment and mix up materials and styles for awhile. No pencil outlines first, just went for it on each page. You can see some of the results here

The verdict? I still love watercolors, but suddenly I'm also enamored with a variety of chalks, pencils, markers, inks, even ballpoint pens. I discovered I can make reasonably decent pictures even with crayons, love so many art materials, and really enjoyed mixing them up. I'm not sure how this will play out in my art and illustration, but I now have a sketchbook filled with a variety of techniques that I can browse for ideas when illustrating a new project. The learnings have given me confidence in my abilities as an artist, and have propelled me to want to create more.

Off I go to do that, and next time you get a chance, try mixing up your creative approach and materials. Try new things, let stuff come together in new ways to open your creativity. Don't try to make it perfect, just play, mix, mingle, and see what you get. 


Use Less and Save More

In times when many of us, including me, have lost our paying gigs, and there's uncertainty as to what will happen next, is anyone else out there noticing how quickly you use the resources you need for daily life, whether it's food, or supplies, or spending, or other? And as we hear good news on how nature is healing a little while we're staying home, does it make you wonder about your personal environmental footprint? 

When we think of conserving, big things matter most. Stopping deforestation and planting trees is the number one thing to help reduce climate change and clean up the environment for the future, so it's important we vote for good leaders who support the Paris Agreement and other green initiatives. Not wasting water, turning off unused lights and devices, turning down the heat at night, using low energy LED lightbulbs, and buying only what we need are things most of us can do. But also we can conserve health, practicing prevention to stay well. And we can conserve wealth, time, and energy by some of the choices we make. 

We can all probably do a little better at conserving, not letting things go to waste and protecting against future shortage or harm, and using our energy to create our best live. Native cultures around the world were keenly aware of the need to preserve nature so it could support them, often making decisions by contemplating "How will this affect the 7th generation?" We can all question the impact of our choices with an eye on the future, and look for ways to reuse, recycle, repurpose and reduce to consciously conserve. 

With extra time home and socially distancing, it's become clear that what matters most to me is relationships and the people I love; and having a sustainable, free world for my grandchildren and theirs to live as stress-free as possible. While in time-out socially distancing, I'm questioning how I can most efficiently use my money, talents, resources, and life energy and be prepared for what the future may bring. As I journey from room to room and see my unfinished piles and projects, I keep questioning, what's most important and worthwhile for me to finish now and going forward? That's where I plan to focus and consciously use and conserve my creative energy.

As you create today, how might you use less to have more for the future? How can you carve out your space and time to create something that, even though temporary, may positively impact your life and others'?


Make Magic

How do you make magic?

I'm in the process of making a little. For about 40 years, on again off again and mostly off, I've been trying/thinking/talking/stalling about making a children's picture book. Often I'd get an idea, begin with great heart, and then allow my saboteur to interfere, overthinking, over-editing, or listening to others' critiques over my own intuition. At the beginning of April, I had an idea and with great focus and passion I began. Within days, I presented it to my critique group, and felt mostly discouraged. I listened only to the useful parts of the feedback, and carried on, managing to prepare the manuscript and all the artwork in about 2 weeks. Yay me, I've finished my first kids' picture book! 

Because of the timely nature of the topic, I decided to bypass trying to find an agent, editor, and publisher and decided to indie publish, with help from a friend. For various reasons it's bounced back 3 times in the last couple of weeks for improper formatting. After watching some YouTube videos and much Google searching, I have fingers and toes crossed that today's submission will fly and hopefully I can share it soon. Till then, here's the cover reveal

I've had so many learnings from the process, and we'll see what happens next. My biggest advice if you're creating today: Decide what you're making and for who, why, and how, then, if it feels worthwhile and calls you, don't second guess, keep moving forward, focus, and do it. In this case, once I had the manuscript, I eliminated variables and decided what art materials I would use and how it would look. Then I stopped thinking/deciding except to sort out obstacles as they come up. What started as sketches almost effortlessly became a 32 page picture book in 2 weeks by sticking to one phase at a time, keeping my head and heart in sync on it, and not turning back. 

It might take years to create something, or weeks, or moments, depending on where you are and how you count. Just paint, or draw, or invent, or make, doing this step, and the next with great focus and enjoying the process. In time your practicing and exploring and intention will come together and you will create something magical. 


Empower Your Thinking

Our thoughts create a good part of our experience. When we have positive, uplifting, optimistic thoughts we enjoy our journey much better than when we're thinking judgmentally, negatively, or anxiously. 

Scientists tell us that the average person has 70,000-90,000 thoughts per day. We only notice about 5% of these; and 95% of our thoughts are the same as we had yesterday. What if we could think some new thoughts to help us grow beyond where we are?

When we pause and notice our thoughts, just getting still and mindful to whatever is happening right now, we become more aware of how we think, and we can start to see our patterns. At first when we begin this sort of mindfulness practice, it can be uncomfortable, as we may feel the connection between our thoughts and emotions, and might not like what we observe. With practice, we can consciously change our habits and think in ways more conducive to creating contentment and well-being in our lives.

Here's to some happy, peaceful thoughts for you today. Maybe take a few mindfulness breaks and just watch your thoughts. If you find any that are causing anxiety, anger, sadness, or fear, try thinking a grateful or happy thought about yourself or someone else, on purpose, and feel how that lifts your energy. If you find thoughts of self-doubt, shift your self-talk to "I can;" or, if you can't yet, rather than thinking "I can't," shift your mindset to "I can't yet" and then take steps towards learning what's needed so you can. This way you'll empower your thinking, you'll probably create more peace within and around yourself, and you just might gain confidence and enjoyment in all you create. 


Watch Nature Unfold

All of nature is about change, growth, and transformation. 

Spring is a great time to step outside and watch the changes unfolding around us. 
It's a time for hope; for wonder; for soaking in the beauty; for feeling grateful for the gifts nature offers us; for planting and patience; and for feeling connected to Earth, to all its life forms, and to all people around the planet. It's a reminder to take care of our home, Earth, because she takes care of us.

We are part of nature, and so we too change, grow, and transform. We come, we live, and we go. Connecting deeply to nature helps us feel our beauty and strength as well as our vulnerability. It helps us to feel, contemplate, and embrace life's mysteries. 

You can let nature offer her gentle healing to help you stay well, strong and hopeful. Maybe try sitting with a tree or examining some flowers today, or turn over a rock and watch some insects. Or just sit and breathe in some fresh air. Immerse yourself in nature's creativity, and let her inspire yours. 


Be Light

We rely on creativity to meet the challenges of each day and in all our roles and relationships. It's creativity that helps us live purposeful, meaningful, beautiful lives. Our daily hustle can push away our creative impulse, and when we're stressed, we can feel down and disconnected from our creative intuition, or muse, or soul, or highest Self.

During a time of crisis, it’s easy to get stuck in negative, fearful, and even fight/flight patterns. Yet, it’s also a time to rise and use your talents and strengths in ways you may not have imagined you could. By believing in possibilities and inviting in space for what’s next, we can feel more calm and optimistic, and this is fertile ground for our imaginations to sprout and grow our creative seeds.

When pessimism, anxiety, doubt, or fear keep you from creating, you can try practicing yoga, meditation, breathing, singing, dancing, drumming, or anything that calms your revved up nervous system. Making breathing space in our minds, hearts and bodies, we can then better shift from dark and stuck places to feeling lighter and more spacious. Suddenly, the muse may reappear and ideas and solutions to our problems often spontaneously pop in. 

Look how furloughed workers are turning their energy to making face-masks from everything from old bandanas to bras; companies are switching gears to make much needed medical equipment; nurses are suggesting ways to hook two patients to breathing machines designed for one; doctors and scientists are exploring new virus remedies and vaccines; yoga teachers and spiritual leaders are finding ways to lift and support their communities remotely; children are learning from home and teachers are using technology to reach them; artists of all genres are sharing what they can; delivery services are finding ways to get us what we need; neighbors are supporting and connecting using social distancing; moms are throwing virtual birthday parties… and the list goes on.

So stay hopeful and look from and on the bright side. Remember to make space for your light to shine in so you can create from your best and lightest place. Create and be light today. 


Feed Your Creative Journey

A big part of creating is exploring. Whether it's in the form of brainstorming, researching, experimenting, or studying other creatives' products, when we explore we fertilize our imaginations and enhance our techniques and creative abilities. 

Creative exploring is sort of like hunting. It takes patience, observation, and may take us down many trails. What comes along may be what we're hoping for or may be a surprise. If we stay open to what arises, we might find and hit our target, or we might capture something else that feeds our creative journey. 

When you look deeply, examine what you're doing, and dare to explore new ways, you can discover new things about the world, yourself, your capabilities, and your art. Set out today with a spirit of adventure, do something different, take some chances, reach beyond your routine, and see if you can enjoy expanding and surprising yourself. 


How Now Brown Cow?

My grandfather, "Pep," used to ask "How now, brown cow?" every time we spoke on the phone. At the time, it seemed a quirky, silly thing that made us laugh. Now Wikipedia informs, "The use of the phrase "How now brown cow" in teaching elocution can be dated back to at least 1926." Interestingly, it's also currently the title of several children's books. And it's a good question. 

We spend time obsessing on the past, and we worry about the future; yet, all we ever really have is right now, this moment, then the next. When we mindfully focus on what's before us, we can answer "How now?" We know how we're feeling, what we're thinking, and why we're doing what we're doing. 

Presence– being right where you are, however you're feeling, aware and focused on who and what are before you now, in this moment, and then again in each next moment– is difficult in a world that feels designed for distraction and encourages us to multitask. Neuroscientists have proven that when we try to do multiple things simultaneously or cogitate on the past or future, we do more poorly at simple tasks, we focus less, have difficulty learning, and we accomplish less. When we single-mindedly focus in the present, we can mindfully pay attention in each moment, on purpose, without judging what's happening. 

When we create our day and tasks with presence, fully immersed, we forget time and may not even look at the clock. When pressed with a list of goals and deadlines, it helps to pause and breathe and refocus when getting distracted. Then you can get back to doing one thing at a time, with full attention. 

The past is gone and the future is largely a result of the choices we make moment to moment on our path. As you set about creating your day today, try setting your clock to "NOW," and move intentionally, immersing fully in this Now and the next.