Hangin’ With the Herd and Drinking with Baboons

“I never really have fit in” – I hear people say that all the time. “I was different. I was the black sheep,” they’ll say. After listening for some time, I realize…they wouldn’t trade belonging if it meant changing who they are.  I respect that.

Blessed are those who have discovered their herd (click to Tweet).

belonging to a group, herd, tribe

I went to a Techie meeting this week. During the networking portion the attendees all had their noses in their notebooks.

Very. Little. Interaction.

I watched as they came and went. They didn’t look like my herd.  I was a gazelle in a room of antelope. Not a lot different, but enough to know it wasn’t my herd. We just all happened to be at the same mental watering hole (click to Tweet). They moved with grace and ease. Shoulders back, eyes forward, confident. They understood the lay of the land. They presented a commanding presence.  I was pleased to witness their “belongingness.” They were brilliant. When I drank from their watering hole my mind expanded!

A friend told me she didn’t belong in the herd that raised her. Raised by wolves, she said.  Her family was not like her at all. They unfriendly groupdidn’t understand or appreciate the gifts she had to bring to the table – er –  watering hole.  That’s a shame, because she is bright, and intelligent and funny and talented. She positively shines and could add sparkle to any party or event.  When she found her artist friends, she found a home. She connected with her herd and now they support, protect and inform one another. They collaborate, champion and share. How powerful to be with your herd, or your “tribe” as I often call it (you can join mine at the sidebar of this page).  We can achieve so much more together than any one person alone.

Diversity, new peopleIt’s important to have a place you feel comfortable; a place you “belong.” There is also a risk in it. If  you spend all your time with the herd  you may get weak and possibly get “et”. It will do you good to wander down to the watering hole on occasion and drink with the elephants, observe the lions, commune with baboons (I do that all the time!).

There is richness, beauty and abundant learning in diversity (click to Tweet).

I’ve spent years working with, and coaching, teams and developing them into high functioning units. Diversity in teams is incredibly important. And, get this, that person who drives you crazy may be your greatest asset (click to Tweet). They force you to see things differently. To think differently and to learn. Appreciate them.

I know you can’t always be on high alert in the tall grass surrounded by unfamiliar beasts. HOW EXHAUSTING!!! Find your herd, your accepting, harmonious herd, so you can rest, rejuvenate and celebrate with them. If you haven’t found them, take a trip down the river and  try a few new watering holes. Enjoy the ride. Your herd is out there…somewhere. If you’ve found them, remember to cross pollinate…take a sip at a new watering hole and learn new stuff.

Go on Safari,

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who teaches creatives business behaviours that boost their Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessproductivity and happiness…all the while honoring their unique and artsy selves. Follow her on Facebook on Twitter

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Care and Feeding of the Muse – Aspirations of Inspiration

Woot!!! Dumpster loads of clean up occurred as a result of last week’s “The Urge to Purge” post. If you missed it, click on this link or find it in the archives on the website. You reported lots of offices, studios and workspaces got a much needed sprucing.

GOOD FOR YOU! 

Since that’s out of the way, let’s talk a bit about inspiration. It’s priceless, and sometimes, illusive.  Many people find inspiration in nature, music, emotionally or spiritually moving events, beliefs or from visual cues. However we get it, inspiration is like gasoline, we need it in order to work (click to Tweet).

Creative people are conduits (click to Tweet).  We look for inspiration, to create something which will, in turn, inspire others. We hope it will make them dance, think, laugh, cry or otherwise “feel.” In order to do this, we need to be inspired ourselves. Sometimes, especially as life becomes stressful and demanding, inspiration can be in short supply.

Below is a list of how some of this century’s greatest creative thinkers and doers tap into their wells of inspiration. What inspires you? I’d love to know, so feel free to share on the blog!

Inspiration graphic

Be sure to keep a sketchbook, notebook or camera on hand to capture moments or ideas that prime your creative pump. Above all, remember to focus on GRATITUDE for that which inspires you. If you find inspiration in ways not captured here…please do share. Happy creating!

BE INSPIRED!!!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the Coaching pic  - Version 3 path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥

 

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The Quicksand of Introspection

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”                             ~ C.G. Jung

Many creative types tend to be introspective. According to Merriam Webster introspection can be understood this way:

In-tro-spec-tion (n.) a reflective looking inward : an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings.

Introspection is interesting, it can become rather obsessive and addictive. I’m introspective by nature…and when not being quicksand1introspective, I’m extrospective – examining the world outside me. So, while watching y’all I’ve noticed, introspection can be like quicksand. People get in, but have a great challenge trying to get out. Sometimes they can no longer interact with the world…going under…that’s bad. Still, it’s important, nay, essential, to understand oneself and our place in the world. It’s especially important to creative types because part of the art we create springs from that very introspection. But, as art critic and philanthropist John Ruskin said,

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small parcel.” 

And he should know…he looked at oodles of art and thought… A LOT.

So how do we wade through the quicksand and get out safely? I’ve made a “life-saver” observation while in a time of extrospection…EXPERIENCE COUNTS.

It’s a bit like when you start a new job or take on a new responsibility. You have any given number of balls and are expected to keep them in the air…at least the important ones. But, since you aren’t sure which are important, you juggle, like a caffeinated clown. As you gain more knowledge and confidence, you realize some of the balls can take a rest, and that you can take a breather. Introspection is like that. While some realizations may seem looming and huge, that doesn’t include every single notion we conjure. As you get older – ah, here’s yet another benefit – it becomes more apparent where to put our energy, what notions to tend to, what can wait.

As we gain experience we learn how to extricate ourselves from being mired in the quicksand of introspection.

Bridge b&wWe realize the value of extrospection and can lace the two together knowing how to bring the best of ourselves, our talents, our voice and the needs of others together, to be a formidable asset to the world.  It’s the gift, the payoff, for having gone through the fire in our youth.

So please, cherish your introspective time, enlist it to create, express and own who you are. Taking that time allows your authenticity to shine through in your work. AND also, take some time to observe the world, to extrospect. Find how you can help. Introspection and extrospection work so well together. The perfect marriage.

I’ll be waiting for my wedding invitation,

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥Coaching pic  - Version 3

 

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The Path

Remember those flip storybooks? The kind you had when you were a kid? There were several divided pages you could choose red rocks croppedfrom and you’d flip one part of the story and it would change the entire storyline.  Life is kind of like that.

Are you happy with the way your life is unfolding? It occurred to me, “The steps you take today, create the path you walk tomorrow.” (Click to Tweet).  This can be applied with a broad brushstroke in many areas of life, but it holds true not only for life’s big decisions, but also the daily choices we make, like when to get out of our bath robe or when to say “no.”

No pressure here, but everyday we all make choices. Occasionally we make big choices like which career path to take, the type of leader we want to be, the way we want to parent, who we’ll marry and other high impact stuff. On a smaller scale, every single day we make choices about how we “run our day.” This includes how we fulfill our commitments, what will be on the “to do” list, how we’ll respond to a request and who we’ll turn to for advice or approval.

Just because we consciously make these choices and choose a direction to follow, doesn’t mean we get all our wishes. Our thoughtfulness doesn’t guarantee our future will unfold on our schedule or present the exact picture we desire, but it creates a pathway that sets the trajectory of our lives. That sounds terrifying, fateful and as if our entire lives are determined by one simple decision. The thought can lead to analysis paralysis.  It reminds me of the time my son was on his IKEA shopping spree and took 3 ½ hours to spend $200. (Sorry, son).

It’s. Not. That. Critical…………………………………..Usually……..Not. 

There’s always an opportunity to hang a right…or left…and take another trail. OR you can beat down a new trail that’s never been tried before. It’s never too late to pursue another path, or just change the smaller steps that take us down the current one. But, the further we get down a path, the more energy it takes to change direction. It’s true!

The simple truth of the matter is – if you don’t start taking steps on some sort of path – you will probably wake up someday standing in pretty much the same bloody place. So, hop on a path and make the turns if you need to!

What are you doing along your travels?

  • Are you thoughtful about your choices?
  • Do you structure your time to accomplish things that will take you a little further down the path each day?
  • When making a decision do you consider not only how it will impact the present, but the potential future outcomes it may create?
  • Do you have a trusted confidant or personal “Board of Advisors” to share ideas and concerns with?

These are just a few considerations. And certainly, in times of great transition it’s normal to be unsure which path you want. If that’s your situation, it’s okay to take some time, and it’s always okay (even wise) to ask for help.

CIMG0043Remember, you may not know where you’re going to be in 5 years, but you’re going to be SOMEWHERE…so, pick a path. (Click to Tweet).

Once more thing – while you’re on the journey remember to enjoy the scenery. That is all!

Safe Travels and Be Brave!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; Coaching pic  - Version 3the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥

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Willpower and Work – An Inside Job

temptationadameveYes, I’m a bad person. I know this because the book group I founded, brimming with incredible women, told me so. I got myself in a bit of a mess over a book about Willpower. I don’t really lack willpower, not really. I have it when I want it, BUT I didn’t want it for the current assignment. In the spirit of true rebellion I didn’t do the reading for last night’s gathering. I just blew it off.

I. Didn’t. Have. The. Willpower. To. Read. The. Willpower. Book.

Doesn’t that just suck? I mean, how embarrassing.

Not only that, but I whined and pleaded with these beautiful souls and we ended up changing the book. It didn’t take a lot of tears…seems others were more than willing to abandon the ship without much prodding.

Willpower pic dogsIn the past I’ve given tips for time management and overcoming procrastination. But, how do you gut up the willingness when the devil is tugging you in the other direction? (click to Tweet). This concept is vitally important to those of us who are the bosses of our own bad selves, walk to the beat of our own drummer, have the freedom to practice extreme avoidance and don’t have to report what we’ve accomplished to anyone at the close of the day.

What is it about willpower then? I’ll give you some tips (from someone who DIDN’T read the book) and I’ll go straight to the cliffs’ notes.

  • Self-control is a muscle and must be exercised…so practice.
  • Don’t try to practice willpower when you’re too stressed, angry, hungry or tired.
  • There are biological interactions that take place when you’re trying to exercise willpower that undermine even the most super-human of us…so you have to be willing to forgive yourself….sometimes frequently.
  • Too much self-control can be unhealthy…just like too much stress. Deductive reasoning would support that sinning is good for you (okay, I took a little creative license with that one).
  • Visualize – and CONNECT with the feeling you will experience when you’ve achieved the goal. Keep the connection in the forefront (this suggestion stems from my coaching career, I didn’t see it in the book. I guess the author forgot – or I didn’t read that far).
  • Get enough R&R to build up stores of willpower.

And that’s as far as I got. What have you got? Feel free to share your tips for maintaining willpower. How do you avoid the cheesecake or turn off the TV when you should be working? How do you drive yourself to maintain focus when you’d rather do something else?

Willpower and work…it’s an inside job!

BE INSPIRED!!!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥Coaching pic  - Version 3

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Give Yourself a Break

retreat2Life can get going pretty fast. It’s easy to fall into a pattern, partake in the same old activities, see the same people each day and do the same old thing. Some people call it the “Grind.” Well, you may be stuck in the grind, or you may be enjoying the way things are…no matter, you could probably use a break.

Retreats are a nice way of taking a break. I recently took one and found it was not only good for my head, but my soul benefited as well. Here’s what I took away from a break in routine:

S-t-r-e-t-c-h – I learned some new stuff. I didn’t enjoy every, single minute because I was seriously pushed out of my comfort zone, but I did learn a lot of useful, innovative information, gained mastery of some new techniques and had a chance to adjust my line of thinking about this “stretch,” so it was well worth a couple awkward moments.

Pull back the curtain – I had some time to be introspective. In those “awkward moments” I quickly realized the only one paying attention to me was, well, ME. Hmmmm…. Why was it a big deal to me, and no one else seemed to care? Something to learn there…code phrase…”room to grow”. So, I learned some new behaviours and had an opportunity to choose a positive attitude.

Find kindred spirits – I made new friends. I met nice, accomplished, curious souls. Because it was a topic I was interested in, I met people with like interests, similar stories and several who were quite inspirational. I’ll keep in touch with some of these folks, so I’m building relationships with some really awesome people!

Bounce with the big yellow ball – I woke up more easily. For the time I was attending the retreat I sprung out of bed with Perfect daymore gusto than usual. Let’s face it, I’m not a morning person (Click to Tweet). When I woke up at 5:30 am and didn’t want to crawl back under the blankets I knew some serious voodoo was up. I was crazy, super excited about what the day would bring,

Beef up your bag of tricks – I now have a few more tools for my bag of tricks. Whether I use them directly, or indirectly, it doesn’t really matter, I have them and will make use of them somehow. My head is bursting with new ideas. I tested my boundaries and survived. Not only that…I thrived!

Cultivate confidence – with new experiences and new skills, I got out of my comfort zone and now it IS my comfort zone (Click to Tweet).  One of my original goals going into my workshop was to build confidence in the topic – yay – done! I AM INSPIRED!!!

Restore, rejuvenate and rest. Comparing notes, it’s safe to say every night the 20 of us fell into bed exhausted. Yep, we  “left it all on the field” every, single day AND IT WAS EXHILARATING! The learning, working, laughing and fun curve was astronomic…so we all went home exhausted with smiles on our faces. Not many things will offer you that result! (Well, there are a few, but this is a PG rated blog)

Given the benefits above, I think it’s safe to say we could all use the occasional break. Vacations are great, but something that really challenges our comfort levels, inspires new behaviours and provides a safe environment to explore is beneficial to our well being. It makes us EXCITED about moving forward. Do yourself a favour, and give yourself a break!

Cheers to a Well Lived Life!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥

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Creating a Whole

I remember as a child, shutting life away and creating stories and poetry. I’d spend hours upon hours in my bedroom…writing.canopy-toddler-bed What a delight to be in my perfect world, enjoying myself, creating (click to Tweet). There was a constant narrative running in my head. As I observed life, I would dialogue what I saw mentally in “story form.” It was a sweet and innocent time.

I grew up in a creative household. My mother would paint, sew and decorate cakes. One year she and her friend made hundreds of sugar peek-eggs and sold them for Easter. They made enough money to appoint my writing room (my bedroom) with beautiful furniture. I would sit on the canopy bed and write stories and poetry.

As I grew I was encouraged by my parents and teachers to cultivate my passion. I enrolled in college and majored in journalism.

ENTER THE BOY

I worked at the local paper writing feature articles. It was an exciting time, exploring new fronts, always with a photographer in tow.  I was consumed. Then, it dawned on me. I had a boyfriend and things were getting serious. If I kept indulging myself this way, I would probably never marry and have a family.  I was living my life with such zest it left little room for another. I “unselfishly” decided to put the kibosh on this writing. It obviously would get in the way of my life.

…DONE…

Workers fightFor the next 25 years my creativity was expressed in minimal and “socially acceptable” (at least in my mind) ways. I’d find business solutions, coach clients to problem solve, create budgets and write kick-ass business letters.  Painting and poems were for soft, self-indulgent types.

ANGER

So naturally, I was pissed off at the soft, self-indulgents; the selfish artists, writers and people who lived with such abandon and joy.  I made judgments about them and did not take them seriously. Couldn’t they see there was REAL work to be done? Come on, people, pull your weight! The rest of us are making sacrifices…you’re entirely too preoccupied with pleasing yourselves! (Click to Tweet).

REALIZATION

CIMG412325 years after I severed a crucial part of my soul through denying my passion, the boy was gone. All that remained was the resentment for artists and an emptiness of purpose. I found relief by breaking things and putting them together – creating beauty from ruin. Some call this mosaic art. I fell in love with the process, the medium, the result. This progressed and one day someone referred to me as an “artist.” At first, it was an uncomfortable feeling. Was I really one of those self-pleasing, self-indulgent types…not suffering enough to make a real contribution to society? It didn’t matter. I realized I had this one life to live and the urge, the need to create, trumped any name calling. Besides, art IS a real contribution to society. It binds cultures, creates beauty and brings JOY to the lives of those who partake (Click to Tweet). I began to paint, to write, to play. The fountain of creativity poured forth, having been “damned” for years…and it spilled into all areas of my life, showing itself though joyful living and a deep appreciation for beauty in nature, in life, in people. I was whole again.  The anger, the resentment fell away.

Recently, I watched Oprah interview Brene Brown, a researcher of shame and vulnerability. Brown said one key to living wholeheartedly was to cultivate creativity. How many of us amputate our creative selves to make those “meaningful contributions to society” and are fueled by discomfort, sweat and resentment?  How many of us deny our natural purpose – to create – and settle on becoming  “acceptable?” Brene Brown says:

“Unused creativity is not benign. It turns into grief, rage, sorrow.”

She says creativity gets shamed out of us. Do we do that to our children? I did it to myself and was so bitter I could have shamed it out of my children…fortunately, I didn’t. One of Brown’s main points:

“The only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born of our creativity.” (Click to Tweet)

These days I work with creative types, mostly women, but some men, too. I love leading and teaching mosaic workshops where people can get away from their day to day demands and tap into that creative purpose we all have. It is healthy, it is necessary and it makes us whole again.

Live Authentically!  Live Joyfully!

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For more of Brene Brown I recommend “The Gifts of Imperfection” Let go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; Coaching pic  - Version 3the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driven to Distraction – 6 Strategies for Creatives to Get More Done

Tick Tock Your Life is Waiting
Tick Tock Your Life is Waiting

 

I could move mountains if it weren’t for “distractions.” (Click to Tweet) I mean, really, the shiny things get in the way, catch my eye and I’m gone.

It’s become more challenging since I’ve become a corporate refugee, because now I’m doing creative work and am accountable to only myself. We are all creative beings, no doubt, but once you give yourself permission to be fully creative, you lose some of the ability to focus on getting stuff done. I think this is partially due to the fact that creativity is fostered by exploration and play. (Click to Tweet)  The three go hand in hand in hand.

I’m sure the “shiny thing” gets you, too. And it snowballs. One distraction can lead to another and soon the sun is setting and you haven’t done anything even remotely productive. Urghh!

What to do?

It’s all about – ahem – time management. And self discipline. Ick. Doesn’t that sentence just make your hair stand on end? Feeling resistance yet? Think of it this way:

Time is your asset. It’s the key to the kingdom. (Click to Tweet)

You aren’t going to get more of it, so have the self-discipline to jealously guard the 24 hours you’ve got. Identify what gets in your way – and take steps to secure it. Here are some easy strategies:

Your “To Do List” is your GPS – Creating a “To Do” list may sound cliché, but it keeps you on course, guides you and tells you cheerfully, “You have arrived!” Use a list!

Control TV, Email and Social Media – Set designated times to check and respond to email and social media. For most of us, three times a day will work. Morning, noon, afternoon. Having your mobile device firmly tucked into your hip pocket and responding to its every chime? That chime – that’s the sound of your time being sucked into a big hole!

Schedule your Day – Schedule your day…but not ALL of it. Scheduling 60% of your day is realistic, because it allows room for life to happen and keeps you from turning into a shrew. Schedule the stuff you must do, and the stuff you want to do.  Workout time – schedule it! Creative prep – schedule it! Even schedule recreational time. Remember to schedule some time at the end of the day to prepare for the following day. You can create some balance in your life and still move the mountain if you schedule it!

Create systems – Take time to organize in a way YOU can understand. If you can’t find it, you spend time looking for it, so take time to put it in its place in the first place. Besides, just admit it, if you’re looking though stuff to find other stuff you get DISTRACTED with the new stuff you find. (yeah, I wrote that all by myself).

Get a Handle on Procrastination – We all do it. If you really want to, you can get a handle on it. It’s not rocket science…if it were I would procrastinate for sure. Find the root of the procrastination and ferret out the resources, gumption or whatever you need to move through it…one step at a time.

Make Yourself Accountable to Someone Else – Research shows if you write down your goals you’re more likely to achieve them. If you write them down, tell someone you respect about them and make a commitment to report back to that person, your success rate jumps to 95%!

I offer a free gift to those who sign up on my mailing list. This published article is a “How To” for overcoming procrastination. Just “Join the Tribe” at the left and I’ll send it to you, FREE. Tell your friends to sign up, too….don’t procrastinate!

I once heard a wise woman say, “If you’re not using your time to deliver your own package, others will use your time to deliver theirs.”(Click to Tweet)  At first this self discipline may look like shackles to you. This is not bondage. Manage your time well and you will get to spend more time doing what you love to do…perhaps even move a mountain or two.

Git ‘er Done!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leadsCoaching pic  - Version 3 straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

Butt in Saddle, Peace in Heart

Motivational quotes…pretty pictures…we love them, don’t we? Sometimes they go deep, layers and layers deep. This Hafiz quote struck me with its depth and profundity. AND, it’s National Poetry Month, so why not celebrate one of the World’s most beloved and widely read poets? Hafiz, or Hafez, was a 14th century Persian poet who has influenced the likes of Thoreau, Emerson, Goethe, me and maybe you.

Hafiz

Consider the words you speak. I’m often surprised and enamored with my own wit. Sometimes, snarky, stabbing remarks about observations are just too good to keep to myself. (Click to Tweet) But, even if I don’t say them, I may think them. What does that get me?

I noticed McDonald’s new McWrap. Well, now that was too good to keep to myself. McWrap? You want me to eat a McWrap? You must be kidding me. Say it aloud marketing people! What were they thinking? I am self-entertained…but my tirade leads to thinking of other’s perceived stupidity…to the nutritional value of fast food…to the allure and marketing intended to seduce all Americans (and beyond our borders) to violate their bodies to fill them with chemicals and engineered “food stuff”…to our healthcare system and the big pharmaceutical companies…STOP!!! Truly, friends…you can tell me if I’m the only one on earth who thinks this way.

 But there’s more…

My dear Hafiz, it’s more than the words we speak. It’s the thoughts we THINK! To disarm them, to tame them, requires a spiritual practice of looking at the appreciative side, being anchored in gratitude, embracing forgiveness and acceptance. Let me tell you…

it.can.be.difficult.

654px-Sacred_lotus_Nelumbo_nucifera

As Ghandi said:

“Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words.
 
Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions.
 
Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits.    
         
 Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values.
 
Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.”
 
 

We create our reality and impact our very happiness through the perception that begins with our thoughts. Are my witticisms worth it? (For YOU, dear reader friends…irrevocably yes!) For my peace of mind, my thoughts really ought to be corralled.

What are you doing? What words are in your house? Time for Spring Cleaning? Time to re-evaluate? I invite you to share your ideas and experiences right here on the blog. Thank you for making us think, Hafiz…even if your quote did end in a preposition. STOP!!!

If our thoughts create your destiny it may be time to tame that pony and ride off into the sunset!

May your butt stay firmly in the saddle!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leadsCoaching pic  - Version 3 straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Getting the Dog Finger Again!

 

Some of you have traveled the journey of “My Dog’s Life” and shed some tears reading my last blog post about my terrier Mystic 77who, at the time, was dying. You’ll recall my acceptance of a failed relationship and witnessing me swimming in a pool of guilt and angst. Like most things in life, that has changed.

Now, really, I don’t mean to jerk your emotional chain, but here it comes. Right around Easter she rose from the dead. Yep. She spent 3 days in what appeared to be the active state of dying. Family members and friends paraded through the house, wiped their eyes and paid their last respects. She was canonized. Mr. Wonderful (my incredible husband) struggled. Should he help her along in the process? “Do you need to just move on, girl?” Should we call Dr. Stamm?

I. Was. Switzerland.

Then…on Good Friday….one week ago…she rose from the dead and resumed her life.

I don’t get it. She got up, walked around, ate like a champ and basically said, “It’s on! I ain’t done, Jack.”  

What ensued was a test of my spiritual fortitude. Mr. Wonderful talked incessantly of her resurrection, the miracle, what the cause may have been and what the bright and shiny future held. He got her special food  (which drove the other two dogs crazy). He fawned over her, planned a spa day at the groomer and practically offered to get her a new car. Almost every conversation contained “dog topic.” I made an oath to myself not to feel even one pang of disappointment. And I didn’t (applause please).

I struggled with the state of my soul. I had been absolved of my sins during the “death.” I asked for forgiveness, made amends. Now, the chance to live peacefully together once again poked it head around the corner as if to say, “Hey, want to try again?” I was livin’ life on the edge. How long can a human being sustain pure thoughts, bury animosity and grind out a state of harmony? (Click to Tweet)

Sure, it took a few days for her to get back into fighting form. This morning, Mr. Wonderful claimed he got the “dog finger.“

You want a piece of me?
You want a piece of me?

That’s right, the willful disobedience is, once again, alive and well. She did the samba on the carpet with her dirty little fur body. I even got a report when I was away on business, there was a scrimmage with her sister in the kitchen. Switzerland.

Her behaviour has not changed. All the things she did that drove me crazy – she’s doing them again. My behaviour has changed. Aha! So THIS IS THE LESSON! My lesson. This is another chance of redemption. I can get it right. There is no end in sight, only the practice. (Click to tweet)  My practice.

It’s how life IS. I guess the point of the lesson is you don’t know when it will conclude. When it does, if you’ve learned it properly, it won’t matter how long it took. Be Switzerland.

(I invite you to start or join the conversation by leaving a comment below)

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leadsCoaching pic  - Version 3 straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 

My Dog’s Life

If you’re a regular reader, you know – nothing really surprises me. I’m very open and confessional. And here, you can be, too. What I like most about life is the imperfections in mankind…and that includes me. Enjoy my confessional…I find it liberating. When you do it, I find it endearing.

 

Nutshell my lifeI’ve always felt things deeply. To cope, I’ve devised a mechanism of sometimes simply observing the feeling, rather than reacting to it. This goes not only for the bad stuff, but also for the good. I’m really enjoying life this way, observing others and blessing them on their journeys. It’s a good thing I’ve figured this out, otherwise I’d be more a more cracked nut than I already am. So here is my story about something I KNEW would be a  cosmic 2×4 and how I came to build with it, rather than let it be used as a weapon against me. (Click to Tweet)

In our family we have 3 dogs. One of my main challenges, a pinnacle point of my internal contention, is one of our dogs. Our family has a terrier who’ll be14 years old next month. I’ll be upfront and admit she has not been my favourite dog. In fact, I don’t even really like her. I feel I’ve been tolerating her the whole time. She tends toward willful disobedience, isn’t particularly bright and she gets quite dirty of her own choosing – like rubbing along the fence outside after a bath. For someone like me, a former obedience trainer with deep relationships with my dogs, she is “a different breed.”

In our family we’ve always brought our dogs into the fold. They are part of our tribe and they receive proper respect, thoughtful feeding, are expected to have good dog-manners and we love them unconditionally. Well…except for this one – except for this one with me, to be more precise.

Mystic 4The main issue in this canine relationship is not with the canine at all. It’s all me….I know that. I feel bad about myself because of how I feel about the dog. I should be the bigger person, after all. But ,in my humanity, I’ve been waiting for the dog to “go.” Yep, I said it out loud. Dog, if you go, I’ll feel better about myself, because I won’t be struggling with negative juju involving YOU! It’s your fault anyway. NOW, before I start getting raving reply posts, let me say, I know this is wrong. The intellectual and spiritual part of me knows I’ll be dragging this distain like toilet paper on my shoe into the afterlife. Hey, I get this. But I’ve spent years trying to reconcile it, and can’t. I can’t come to terms because as soon as I let go and accept her, she goes off and does something so canine imbecile that I’m right back to square one. LOSE, LOSE!

She’s been getting frail. She’s slower. She doesn’t eat well. I’ve sworn not to spruce up the house until she’s gone. She rubs against the furniture and leaves whatever was on the fence on the sofa, after all. She has recently had “accidents.” I would be silly to invest in new furnishings…I’d be guarding them…like she guards her food she has no intention of finishing.

Mystic 5So, you get the picture. It’s a bad roommate with a 14-year lease. (click to Tweet)  Well…it could be longer…but after yesterday, I don’t think so.

Yesterday morning she wouldn’t get out of bed. She would barely hold her head up. She doesn’t seem to be in any pain, just winding down. Kind of like when my grandmother passed. Truly, the sadness and guilt flooded over me like a tsunami. I went to yoga and afterward spoke with the woman who owns the retreat center. They’ve lost 2 dogs in a short time. The dogs went naturally, in the grass, under the trees.

I came home and spoke with the dog. I asked forgiveness for my inability to move into a meaningful relationship. I. Did. Not. Know. How. I am a flawed human and I’ve missed the lesson entirely. I played gentle music in the house for her and watched her breathe. I stroked her. I cried. I ached. I gave her a little Reiki. I prayed for her peace and comfort. Her last visitors paraded through the house, to pay their respects.

It was so heart wrenching that when I could cry no more tears, I carried her on her bed to the beautiful, warm, light outside. It’s spring. The birds are chirping and the sun is warm. It was what I would want (I think, but not yet, please). When we got outside she got up! She ambled around slowly. She drank some water and ate deli turkey from Whole Foods – no nitrites, you know, because nitrites aren’t good for you. She enjoyed the rest of the day, receiving additional visits, cuddles and sweet murmurs from admirers.

As I write this she is resting peacefully in the other room. Gently finding her way through it all…as I am finding mine. Mystic 7Perhaps, I can’t find that deep connection I have with my other hounds, but by God, I can support her through a sacred  death. I can reach for the lesson, though it may slip through my fingers. I can be open to the outcomes, though they may not be the ones I expect. I can lean into the discomfort of these feelings and just BE with them. I can ask for forgiveness. I can share my story, because sometimes, when the light is shed on shame, it retreats into the shadows and leaves us with some acceptance and peace. (click to Tweet)

 

“You may think you need to find an answer in order to have peace of mind. But if you choose peace of mind now, you will have an answer. On a path of growth, we don’t get rid of chaos. We learn how to dance in the uncertainty, breathe through fire, and discover strengths we never knew we had.”
                                                                                                                                                                     Tama J. Kieves

Special thanks to Tama Kieves who is the author of This Time I Dance, Creating the Work You Love and Inspired and Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work. You can find her at www.tamakieves.com 

Deep Peace,

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leadsCoaching pic  - Version 3 straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter


In A Nutshell

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? The Opinion Corporation of Princeton says 62% of2013 people make New Year’s resolutions and only 8% achieve them. Other statistics show people in their 20’s knock down their New Year’s resolutions more frequently…people over 50 complete them at less than half the rate as their younger competitors…oops….I mean counterparts.

Well, forget that mess. As a coach I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions…but I’ve done some Vision Boards and led Vision Board classes and that worked great. My personal boards take about two years to manifest. But, they do deliver.

Nutshell w wordsFor the annual buzz, what I really like is the “Nutshell” word. It’s one word that sums up what you want to create or become in the upcoming year. It should be positive, strong, and inspiring. You ought to be able to remember it. Last year mine was “Courage.” I evolved my business, showed off my art, blogged about my authentic self and basically lived with abandon. It was thrilling.

This year, I’m focusing on “Joy.” I’m going to focus on “Joy” because I’m lazy. It’s a shorter word. Less stressful. The way I see it, if I can create “Joy” all the stuff that makes me joyful will naturally fall into place. Actually, I probably just need to get out of joy’s way, and let her work her magic. The result – rewarding work, happy people around me and a life full of unicorns and blossoms. Yep – “Joy” it is.

I hope you take some time to find your Nutshell Word. What do you want to be? Healthier? Happier? Patient? Hopeful? Strong? What do your want to create? Financial success (I KNOW that’s 2 words) ? Faith? Tolerance? This is your opportunity for a definitive, fresh start. If you don’t create with intent, something will still happen. Being the control freak I am, I’d rather hold the reins. Put it right here in writing so the world can see…in a nutshell…what’s your word?

Re-create your life!

~ Michelle

Michelle ACoaching pic  - Version 3ndres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook 

Life Imitates Art

Welcome to my blog – Life Imitates Art.

Oscar Wilde wrote in his essay The Decay of Lying:

“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.”

It’s an interesting perspective and a stimulating argument.

I find parallels in life, work, art and human nature. It has always interested me. I often find it hilarious, peculiar or amusing. We can share some thoughts on that here. Here is a space we can discuss art stuff, girl stuff, fun stuff and hard stuff.

Please join me by signing up to follow my blog at at the button in the black part at the bottom of the page. I promise not to share your name or drive you crazy with excessive posts…I try to only share when there’s something to say (but to be honest, I often have something to say!).

So join the list and let’s create a community where we can share, be authentic, appreciate beauty and honor our own creativity.

BE INSPIRED!!!

~Michelle