The Pebble

“You can be walking on the most beautiful beach you’ve ever seen and if there’s a pebble in your shoe, that’s all you can think about.”  ~ Jim Hardy

Irritations, change your viewWe all have our pebbles. Small, sharp sticking points that demand our attention. As a friend told me, we can have the most incredible, full lives and we look for the one little thing that is out of place…then we focus on that.

Isn’t that the most inane thing you’ve ever heard? And, don’t you do it? Sometimes? Come on! I’m getting ready to confess, so slide on over in the shriving pew with me (click to Tweet). Yeah, you might need to Google that –  “shriving pew.”

Maybe the pebble is worry, a friend that you had a row with, an disagreeable political climate, or the brown spots on the lawn. Sometimes, there is nothing within your power to change the pebble. The thing you have to change is yourself. That’s my pebble. Usually, if I can take action to rectify something – brown spots – I am more at peace. It’s those pebbles that we can’t change that create the painful limp as we stroll along the beach of life (click to Tweet). This week I’ve found myself focused on my pebble. It gnaws, pokes, irritates me. This is no way to live a well-lived life.  My view is is myopic and, I’ll call it like it is, UNGRATEFUL.

Focusing on the pebble is like slapping good fortune in the face. What insolent children to have such an epic fail in “Gratitude 101.” Do the brown spots or worry suffer at all? Nope. Who suffers? ME. YOU. Not only do we reject good karma, we unwittingly end up punishing ourselves.

I’d like to think I’m smarter than this…but that jury on that is out having a European lunch break – and sipping a nice Chianti, I’m sure. (click to Tweet).

So, how do you let go of the pebble? How do you shift your attention to the stuff that matters. Are we using the pebbles as excuses?

Reframing irritation
Cairns are big pebbles – they mark the path (ironic)

Are they distractions to keep us from stepping fully into our joyful, well-lived lives, doing our best work? Brene Brown talks about waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sometimes, if things are really good, we can’t tolerated it…we wait for the storm to hit.

Not sure who I’d be fooling if I claimed to have the answer. Maybe the answer different for every person. Maybe it’s different for every pebble. Not sure.

This is what I do know. I will focus on gratitude. I will enlist my superior intellect (haha) to focus on not just the beach, but the ocean. Life is full of blessings…I will embrace and be thankful for each one.

But, WAIT THERE’S MORE…

I will be more intentionally of service and be more giving. If I focus on others perhaps I’ll forget the pebble all together. In that spirit, I am giving free 45 minute coaching sessions to the first 6 people who contact me via the “Coaching” form on this website. Just send it in, this podiatric patient is there for you! We’ll consider it a sort of penance.

So my prescription is SERVICE, GRATITUDE and A CHANGE OF VIEW. Do you have a pebble and a plan? If so, feel free to share it here, on the blog. I’d love to hear from you.

Until then,

Don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my Jimmy Choos,

irritation

 

 

 

Special thanks to the late, Jim Hardy whose wisdom has guided me through some challenges. May you rest in peace, Jim.

Art coaching, building your art business, belongingness

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who teaches creatives business behaviours that boost their productivity and happiness…all the while honoring their unique and artsy selves.

Follow her on Facebook on Twitter

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Bowl ‘Em Over

Be easy…when you’re selling your work, don’t hassle your nice collectors. Make it a fabulous experience for them!IMG_6608

Recently, a wonderful artist in my city completed a news worthy project, “1000 Bowls to Feed the Hungry.” This artist, Chris Thompson, threw over 1,000 pottery bowls and invited the art community to help glaze them. Lots of artists were involved in helping create these incredible bowls. Chris spent many months organizing the affair, promoting it, getting the bowls into local galleries. At the end of the day, proceeds from these 1,000 bowls went to fund 3 local food banks and multiplied each dollar spent to feed the hungry. It was a wonderful project.

First I attended Chris’ display of ALL of the bowls. Well, of course, I couldn’t walk out without a bowl. I chose a big, beautiful, earthy one. It wasn’t easy to choose, but it sure was easy to buy.  There were so many unique and colourful designs and shapes. It was such a blast I thought everyone should have one so I promoted the event to friends.

My awesome friends  bought bowls. They told me they hunted through galleries to find the perfect match. Some friends asked me to buy bowls for them. I happily obliged. I perused the local galleries, and carefully sought out  bowls I felt befitting of the future owner. As I embarked on my mission, I couldn’t help but find additional bowls for myself. I became a collector!  At the next to the last gallery, I selected a spirited little bowl, took my card to the counter and was told I had to pay in cash (audible gasp!). This was a full service art gallery….or so I thought. They asked me to go find an ATM, there was one about ¾ of a mile away, the man thought.  Could I write a check?  I’m sorry, I don’t even use checks, unless someone pays me with one. What??? They didn’t have the ability to run credit or debit cards. The man behind the counter didn’t seem the least bit bothered that he had boldly asked me to inconvenience myself. I could take it or leave it.

Notice, this was the NEXT TO THE LAST gallery. Because, why buy from a place that makes it so inconvenient to buy you wish you’d gone elsewhere?

Are you “easy to buy from”? Are you equipped to take various forms of payment? Have change? Ship well? Follow up? Will you take commissions? Do you send thank you notes?

Square and Paypal both provide easy credit processing options that work well with mobile devices like tablets and phones. Let your exchange be a seamless delight for your collectors.  Wrap it up or ship it, provide a receipt, express some sincere gratitude and follow up. You’re success factor will get a boost because:

 The first rule of selling is….”BE EASY TO BUY FROM!”

Wrapped ArtJust a little something to think about as many artists move into open studio and the holiday season and are working so hard to create incredible art. As you’re putting all that effort into the final product, remember, whether you intend for it to be or not, the customer experience is part of your product (click to Tweet). Don’t be a bold inconvenience, be easy. After all, you probably don’t want to be collecting your art for yourself!

Bowl ‘Em Over!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who teaches creatives business behaviours that boost theirBe Easy to Buy From by Creating a Seamless Sales Experience productivity and happiness…all the while honoring their unique and artsy selves.

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The Sweet Spot

Sweet spot that thing you doThere’s that thing you do. I don’t know what your “thing” is, but you know. It’s the work you are passionate about, that drives you, that makes you excited your eyes pop open in the morning. You know that thing? Maybe it’s painting or writing or coaching or golf or parenting…you get the idea. Your THING. When you’re doing your thing, there’s a sweet spot. Being in that sweet spot is why you do your thing (click to Tweet). You’re not always there, but when you are, it’s heaven. You’re on a roll.

Then there’s the rotten spot. The spot when your sweet has gone missing and you can’t find it…not even if you put an ad on the back of a milk carton. The more it creeps in, the worse it gets, the more you open the door, the more it shoves it’s big, hairy, stinky self through the opening. It gets in your head. It affects the quality of your “thing” and it’s a bugger to shake.

I wrote a blog titled, “It’s Not Always A Masterpiece.” This started a discussion about the sweet spot. So, what are you doing, what are the conditions when you’re hitting on all cylinders and enjoying the sweet spot? What can you observe that makes the planets align and the magic happen?

One of my painting groups offered a lot of insight into this question. The collective opinion of my arty friends is that children have a handle on the magic. They’re not attached to the outcome…they enjoy the process and stop when they’re done. It’s probably because children don’t have to pay for their own canvases. Children approach life with joyful abandon. They know there’s more of their “thing” where that came from. Children snack from the smorgasbord of life (click to Tweet).  Without adult criticism…er…direction, they don’t worry about achieving perfection. Kids do what feels good. Soon they’re moving on to the next interesting thing.

Think about that.

 So what pulls us out of our sweet spot? Do we try too hard? Do we overanalyze? Is it that critical voice in your head…the adult Low performancedirection? Do we work it into mud, past the point of joyfully creating and into the shameful, wet-earth of self-critical flogging? How can we stop?

 A supportive network that will offer feedback, and whose opinions you respect, is hugely helpful. Putting the work away for a period and looking at it later with a fresh eye can help. Don’t expect to always be at the pinnacle. The valleys of life lend perspective and make the view from the mountain clear and exhilarating (click to Tweet). Just relax. Be calm and just do art…oh, no…I didn’t just write that.

Another thing to keep in mind…I don’t want to be Al Bundy. I am eternally grateful I didn’t peak in high school. I hope I haven’t peaked yet. I want to keep finding holes to fill, new things to learn and opportunities to improve. I look forward to getting better as time goes on. The work I do now, when it misses the mark, well, that was just a dry run. The brilliance has yet to be seen. Keep that in mind. Considering your potential, if you were “done” what a disappointment it would be!

Getting familiar with the rotten spot doesn’t mean we’ll grow to like it. We don’t have to settle there and become compost. It’s simply an acknowledgement of its existence. It’s a compass. It helps us know when we are coursing off track so we can make adjustments to find our way back to the sweet spot.  The course correction is up to us. The corrections can be like a spiritual practice. Learning to just be. Learning to tap into that childlike wonder and not having expectations, while still maintaining standards.

If all else fails, you can always paint over it. In the words of some very accomplished artists…my best paintings are often over my worst paintings.

Live the Sweet Life,

Imperfection

 

 

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.

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Call of The Wild Hair

Wild hair of adjustmentMy parents got a wild hair. At the ripe, but not rotting, age of 75 years they decided to shake it up.  Last month during a casual phone call they told me there was a “For Sale” sign in their yard.  They have always lived within a 20-mile radius from me. I was stunned. It seemed the Deep South beckoned them. After several decades in California, my mother moved here at the tender age of 3, they would start a new chapter…a new adventure, consisting of alligators, gumbo and sticky sticky. “We love it there, “ they chirped.

Whatever.

I had long decided I would take care of them as they aged. They informed me there was no need.

Whatever.

So, as a fully-grown woman, I am now faced with the bittersweet loss. Really, as I write I am gazing through tears, but I’ll never admit it to y’all. No more Sunday bar-b-ques, no more birthday outings, no casual stop-bys. They leave Friday…the day this blog is published. Since they’ll be on the road, I’ll get a running start.

In my selfish moments I whine about my “orphan hat.” I mumble the phrase my old boss used to mumble, “I’m a better friend to you, than you are to me.” But it’s really not about me at all. Simultaneously, I beam with pride that two graying (sorry, Mom), bright, inquisitive oldsters can strike out in uncharted territory…well, Lewis and Clark WERE there first…where they will sip the sweet nectar of fresh, new adventures (click to Tweet).  I come from youthful stock!!!

I guess there’s a time in your life when you realize you only live once. Pipe down, you Buddhists! (click to Tweet). You still have an appetite for new things and are free of obligations to others. You have earned this time. The world is your oyster, or crawfish, as the case may be.

Most of us occasionally make small adjustments in our work, our homes and our lives.  If we aren’t quite living our dream, small adjustments can keep us appeased…at least for a while. Then there are the big adjustments, the ones that assure us we are fully engaged and following our joyful hearts. For me, a big adjustment occurred when I left full-time corporate work and decided to indulge that artistic tug, the pull to live a creative life. When I made the choice I KNEW I was aligned with my heart. Being a coach, I knew I had to do it. I had watched many of my clients take those brave steps. I want my parents to be aligned with their hearts.

Are you denying a big adjustment to avoid the fallout, the shakeup, the impact it might have on others? It’s scary and exciting to overhaul your life.

If you’re dissatisfied,but unsure, you might try some small adjustments. If you’re brave and willing and ready, take that bigger leap. Be aligned with your joyful heart. If you aren’t sure what that is, go seek it. There are people who can help you. So, what’s on your mind?  What’s not being said? Done? Let’s talk about it. Please, you are invited to leave a comment below.

Live with Mistakes but Not Regrets,

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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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It’s Not Always a Masterpiece

https://michelleandresart.com/?p=967I paint. My husband plays golf. It’s not always a masterpiece and his round is not always par. As a matter of fact, he’s yet to shoot a sub-par round. And me…that masterpiece….well, never you mind.

I’d written another post for this week. I said, “This really sucks. I won’t publish it.” Then it occurred to me…this might just suck as well, cause it’s not always a masterpiece.

That doesn’t keep us from trying. That doesn’t thwart our practice, our passion, our optimism. It creates a bit of balance, actually.

  • The bad days make the good days more blissful. (click to Tweet)
  •  The faulty painting makes the masterpiece sweeter. (click to Tweet)
  •  The missed shots make the hole-in-one a celebratory, bankruptcy event at the 19th hole. (click to Tweet)
  •  The sucky post makes the blog post shorter…good for you, the reader.

And we keep plodding along. The gambler, the believer, the dreamer, the fool…oops, sorry. Ahem, the tenacious, the headstrong, the dedicated. We do it because we love the challenge, we love the process and sometimes, just sometimes, we love the outcome. Because, when it’s all said and done, who doesn’t value excellence?

So keep on, keepin’ on. It’s more important to keep your commitments, be true to your character and to stand in your own light than to be perfect every time… or perfect any time. Because, I for one, deeply appreciate the flaws, the imperfections, the crooked little tooth. “I love that you’re not perfect, because neither am I, and that is the field where we can meet and hold the hand of humanity.” (Click to Tweet) Not only do we forgive one another, we accept one another, we have to…because none of us are perfect.

So, there you have it. It ‘s not a masterpiece, but it’s something.

“There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen

Celebrate Life In All Its Imperfection and Cherish the Rarity of the Masterpiece,

Imperfection

 

 

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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Hearing Voices

I think of myself as fearless.

But. I’m. Not.

Fearless Idiosyncratic fashionistas About 8 years ago I publically declared my intention to become a crazy old lady in my later years. That statement liberated me. It made it possible to be creatively fearless and do stuff that would make the faint of heart run and hide. I put my art into the public eye with reckless abandon. I wrote my thoughts and confessed feelings that I shouldn’t publically admit (still doing it…you can’t stop me…yes, you could…please be gentle…don’t hurt me). I felt free to live with verve. I would be like the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas (more here).

When we don’t care about what other people think of us; when we do not beat ourselves with the social climber’s measuring stick; when we simply do our best and our heart knows it is good enough (for now)…that’s when the magic happens (click to Tweet)That’s the place where we give ourselves permission to flourish. It’s the fertile learning ground, the joyful happy place, the vast creative field where innovation and daring meet. We are authentic, courageous and fearless when we live and work from there, like children. Deep down, I know it is my obligation to protect this place in myself.

Lots of times fear creeps in.  It does so like the fog …on little cat feet. Thank you, Carl Sandburg. We don’t hear it coming. We raise our heads and there it is – BAM! IN YOUR FACE!

Yesterday, I spent some of the afternoon sketching and painting. Drawing is somewhat new for me, so I’ve chronicled my journey Fearful voicefrom the start and am pleased with my progress. I cavalierly posted a picture of a botanical on Facebook. A friend replied, “Love it! You are getting so good.” Promptly I removed it. I knew the rocks weren’t right. Shame. Shit. Shame. Nothing had changed but the voice in my head. The seeping self-judgement…thief of joy. 

I’ll bet you do it, too. Sometimes? You do, right?

For a lot of artists their work springs from joyful self-expression. For a lot of people their best comes when they embrace whatever work they do with joyful abandon. THIS IS WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO. It feels good.

Then…here comes the voice; the fear of judgment. Worse yet, we turn our judgment to others and compare ourselves to their goodness or a golden standard. Suddenly, mine is not good enough. I am not good enough. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your dreams – you fill in the blank:

  • My art is not good enough
  • I’m not a good enough parent
  • I am not smart enough
  • I’m not a good employee
  • I’m not pretty/handsome enough
  • My voice is not good enough
  • I’m not a good daughter/son
  • My house is not good enough
  • My writing is not good enough (then why are you still reading?)
  • My clothes are not good enough

I’ll spare you the pain, because the list goes on and on. Know what? Sure, you could be doing better. That’s why it’s called a journey. There is always room to improve – that’s the BEAUTY of it! (click to Tweet)

It’s the voice that must be controlled. Silenced. Replaced with the cheerleading voice.  Some  coaches call the negative voice the Gremlin, and everyone has one.  Shame researcher, Brene Brown talks about it, researches it extensively. She says only sociopaths don’t feel shame. Whewwww! I dodged that bullet!

So in the spirit of being a crazy old lady, because I know better, because I choose courage, because I made a commitment to work from a place of joy and abandon, I am sharing. This is why I do what I do.

From shameful voice to fearless
Shameful Botanical Print

 “I will not let the voice of fear rob me of my best life” (click to Tweet). 

What about you? You make a choice to listen to a voice. Do you choose the fearful one, or the champion?  What is the price?  This blog is a safe place, a tribe, where you can share. I find most people are supportive and wonderful. Those who aren’t have their own work to do. Do not go down without a fight…be brave…be happy.

I have no doubt, you are good enough,

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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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Copeless…At the End of My Ropeless

My personal messSometimes life gets messy. My personal mess began with a leaking ceiling during a triple digit heat wave. The restoration company demolished the wet plaster, set up an industrial fan in the living room and the adventure began.

The reconstruction impeded my ability to move, actually walk, through the house. The only way to get from the bedroom to the kitchen was by going outside. Saws, roof noises, pounding hammers and strange people – our dogs were constantly barking and pretty annoyed.  I was…no, I felt… greatly inconvenienced and life became discombobulated. Oh, yes, that is a word; the perfect word. Discombobulated.

To make matters worse, the construction guys knocked off at 2:00 Friday afternoon and I asked when I could expect them back. Monday. To me, that looks like 2 ½ days of lost production. Not everyone has a sense of urgency just because I do (click to Tweet). I am repeatedly reminded of that.

Sometimes change feels hopelessAs I stumbled through the ruins of my once orderly domain, I became increasingly copeless. Okay, that’s not a word, but I like it. It sounds kind of like “hopeless” so it makes sense. An hour before I wrote this chronicle, I got locked out of my kitchen (first draft said my OWN kitchen, geesh)  and I couldn’t access the garage (my OWN garage). I seethed. I’m sure before the ordeal is over someone will get hurt. Pretty sure that someone will be me.

As a self-fulfilling prophecy I proceed to unravel myself and focus on every little irritation. The noise of the saw cutting the supports for the roof. The shaking, confused old dog. I can’t get to the rooms toward back of the house. The guys make a colossal mess (they’re working!). I know better, but I decide to choose that road anyway, because after a week of mess and noise and uncertainty, I don’t have the “skill” to take the other road, the road I hope is more frequently traveled. To make it all worse…I know better. But, I am copeless. At the end of my ropeless.

Isn’t this the way change goes in our lives? We rail against it. We twist and we fight, sometimes even when the change is something we wanted or know will improve our lives or businesses. We KNOW we can choose to see it differently…but, sometimes, we intentionally choose not to. Sorry, that’s just…well…a stupid choice.

What are you choosing to view in a copeless light?

In 2 weeks, I can guarantee you, it will all be water under the bridge. Yesterday’s news. (Insert your own cliché here). I’ll be enjoying a clean and comfortable room, with lots of lovely, natural light.  I’ll also be be carrying the mantel of shame for my poor behaviour. Knowing I could have chosen another way of seeing things. But, we all do it, we’re human. We do all do it, don’t we?

The art of choice is a daily, spiritual practice (click to Tweet).

So what’s messy in your life? In your business? Are you handling it like a skilled adult…or like a 2 year-old child? Here’s the short plan to restore grace and joy into my well lived life:

  •    Focus on gratitude, in the moment, every day.Change can lead to life improvement
  •    Extend forgiveness – others are not trying to dance on my raw nerves – that’s about me!
  •    Visualize the outcome – I know I am working toward something     better.
  •    Take care of myself – know when to ask for a break and make sure I eat and sleep well
  •    Be patient

I’d love to know I’m not alone in my little stumble from grace. Please feel free to share a story, ask for help or just point at me and laugh at the link below.

It’s ALL Good!

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

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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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Filling the Solo Cup

working alone

(This is a repost from July of 2013. The information is still relevant today…feel free to comment or share the post with others who may benefit. ~m)

I work alone.  Mostly, I write alone. I paint alone, and that’s the way I like it. Sometimes I’m coaching others, and I really love it.  However, most of my day is spent in my own company…and I’m an extrovert. I think. I was.

I have conversations with my “Studio Dogs.”(click to Tweet). We listen to music in the studio and I sometimes dance with them. Maybe I talk to them too much. They don’t complain.

Life can get lonely for those of us who spend our days with ourselves. Nothing to break the monotony. This doesn’t mean we aren’t positively content. What it does mean is we can miss out on joyful exchanges outside ourselves. We can get stuck in our creative heads and are perfectly fine, happy, joyful there. Too much of that can’t be a good thing, me thinks. I have no proof, but just feel it in my bones.

I suggest the following to break up the day, get out of the studio, office or wherever you’re working solo. It’ll keep you healthily involved in the big world out there.

Find or Create a Tribe – A group of like-minded people (and some not so like you) to share ideas, experiences laughs with. Brainstorm with them and support one another. When I worked as an OD consultant a group of us would meet once a month for a little snack and coffee and share thoughts on a concept or idea. We built friendships and had some fun. Currently, I have a blog writing partner I meet every Wednesday morning. We keep each other honest. Artists, writers and  creatives benefit from these types of groups and partnerships.Birds on wire

Work in a Public Space – I don’t mean napping in the park here. Write in a coffee shop. Paint plein air. Photograph the world. Get out and mingle. Your life will be richer (click to Tweet).

Check out Meet Ups – I went to a great one last night. It was for speakers. We practiced our skills and shared some key business building points. Fantastic and powerful stuff! You might have to try a few before you find your perfect fit. They come small, big, loud, quiet…check them out at www.meetup.com

Take a Retreat – If something sparks your passion, spend some time away from your business and recharge at a retreat that embraces that topic.  Much more than relaxing is involved. Your network will grow, your skills will get honed, you’ll create memories and recharge. Red Solo CupTip – don’t choose a silent or solitary retreat. (Duh)

Be PresentWherever you go…BE.THERE. (click to Tweet) Go to the Grocery Store. Be present there. Post Office? Be present there. As you run your daily errands get to know people’s names, spark up light conversation. Noticing the world around you is a great way to gain creative inspiration. Not only that, being present outside your head is a healthy hiatus.

Create Meaningful Routine and Ritual – Schedule time each day to get out of the studio or office. One of the benefits to being self-employed is the flexibility it allows. Take advantage of this and make it a routine. Schedule yoga or the gym regularly. Every Thursday spend the afternoon with a friend at the museum or galleries, for example. Sometimes, if you’re in the middle of a project, it’s hard to pull yourself away, but the break keeps us fueled. Be disciplined and do it!

What do you do? How do you fill your solo cup? You have a Tribe here (see, you can join it on the sidebar). I’d love you to share your ideas of how you build balance into your days. I invite you to start the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Stay Full and Proceed to Party!

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Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, Writer, Artist, Coachhelping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 

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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 Urge to Purge

Clutter 2Clutter

You have it. That “stuff”  you leave in your wake, the constant reminder there is unfinished business, loose ends, a mess, you’re not perfect.

Well, guess what? You’re not perfect. I like you that way. I like me that way, too. We are proof of the human condition (click to Tweet).

That clutter, though…it blocks the creative spirit. It clogs the flow of new ideas, prosperity, harmony. Clutter sucks. It comes in various forms. There’s the physical clutter…on your desk, your dresser, the kitchen counter. It’s unsightly and makes you feel….ick. Too much makes it hard to breathe.

Clutter also comes in the emotional form. The figurative toilet paper you drag around on your shoe. Worries you have about what you can’t control. An off handed, insensitive comment someone made. Comparison to other people, their work, their accomplishments, their opportunities, their opinions, their stuff. Their CLUTTER! Clutter envy…gawd! (Click to Tweet)

Gutter clutter. That’s right! In. Your. Gut. From the movie popcorn, late night ice cream, stress cheeseburgers. You know you do it…occasionally. You clutter your God given temple with junk…to make yourself feel better. To relieve the emotional clutter. And it stays. Fatty deposits on your thighs, hips, belly. You pollute your body the same way you do your office, your studio, your mind.

Clutter 3There are so many types of clutter. Concept clutter. Financial clutter (better known as debt). Obligatory clutter (say “no” much?). Clutter occurs when we fail to take care of OUR business as we should. We do not make it a priority to keep our lives, bodies, environment clean. Guilt is clutter…so, please, don’t feel guilty about this. You’ll just add to the clutter. And as cluttered as we are, we certainly don’t want to be, ahem, HORDERS!

The clutter is okay. We are human. We clutter, but we also organize. Ewwww, that’s a bad “O” word, isn’t it? But, for the pain organization causes, albeit temporarily, organizing also creates a freedom. A clarity. A knowing – especially a knowing of where we put stuff!

So, how to manage?

First, make sure you have the tools to do the job. It depends upon what you aim to declutter. You may need file folders. A therapist. A nutrionist. A coach (I am one). A personal trainer. A dumpster. So, decide what you’re cleaning up and get the right tools. Create a system. Identify a “Home” for your stuff, a home where you’ll be able to find it upon demand. Create a system you LIKE. This is important. If the system is too complex or laborious, you’ll avoid using it.  Got it? Good!!!

Ready to get to work? If you’re a heavy clutterer, try one step at a time. It’s kind of like a 12-Step program for clutterers. If it’s easier for you, 15 minutes a day of decluttering. Start with the most obvious clutter. Seeing progress will be encouraging and you’ll gain momentum. If you’re bringing in reinforcements, like a professional organizer, a therapist, or a nutritionist, they can help you work this through.

If you’re the warrior type, you may choose to simply plow through the clutter. I tend to execute this way. Just take your medicine. It’sOrganized 7 a bitter pill, but it CURES! (Click to Tweet). I find plowing easiest because the process is fast. I don’t linger over each “object” and its fate because I build some momentum, which drives the process. Put on some rockin’ tunes, put your head down, GO!

If you’d like a specific model for executing each piece of clutter, please click here. You’ll get a lovely, simple document that helps you keep it simple – just for joining the “Tribe.” As you touch each piece of clutter, you’ll have an automatic, pre-ordained answer.

As a general rule, if you haven’t used something for over a year, it’s junk. UNLESS IT’S TAX RELATED. Keep business documents in a banker box…you know…just in case.  Label it with the year. Also, clutter that is not emotionally charged is easier to deal with. Address that stuff first. If you’re dealing with emotionally charged or “memory” clutter, the plow method works to build some rhythm. That way you won’t agonize over each object – at least not as much as you could.Organized 4 ever

Clean house! It feels good. It creates a path for new possibilities, mental clarity, abundance. It leaves you light and free. It creates a harmonious space for your to relax, enjoy life, employ audacious creativity.

Afterwards – Now, you have a system, please use it EVERYDAY to maintain your clutter free life. You may slip from time to time, and that’s okay. You’re human. But take care of your business – you deserve this! Embrace the urge to purge!!!

Keep it Tidy!

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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 Coaching pic  - Version 3their joyful hearts.♥

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Poetry, Purpose and Pushing Up Daisies

Cairns in Oak Creek 2                   I Will Not Die an Unlived Life

                               “I will not die an unlived life.

                           I will not live in fear

                              of falling or catching fire.

                              I choose to inhabit my days

                                 to allow my living to open me,

                               to make me less afraid,

                             more accessible,

                               to loosen my heart,

                                  until it becomes a wing,

                                a torch, a promise.

                                  I choose to risk my significance;

                                   to live so that which came to me as seed

                                     goes to the next as blossom,

                                      and that which came to me as blossom

                              goes on as fruit.”

                    ~Dawna Markova

A special thanks to Dawna Markova, Ph.D, CEO of Professional Thinking Partners and author of the book “I Will Not Die an Unlived Life” for the nudge, nay, shove, to re-examine how we are spending our precious lives.

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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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As Good As Goaled

Magical bookMany years ago, I opened a volume of poetry and prayers and a colourful, folded, Post-It note fell out. On this paper I had written 5 things I wanted to accomplish. I’d  written them, tucked them into the book and forgotten all about them. They incubated on the bookshelf for 2 years, then, voila, were rediscovered. DONE. COMPLETE. FINITO.

Has this ever happened to you? When it does, it feels like there’s some divine purpose behind it. I’ve experienced this phenomenon multiple times and when it happens, I’m always surprised at how my life has moved in the direction of the intent.  The simple act, the intention, written on a piece of paper has a kind of power in itself. It works.

I’m a coach, who is also an artist, and have spent years in corporate leadership. I’ve learned a few things about goal setting and I’ve witnessed plenty of successes (and failures). While the note hiding method is often successful, in my daily business I’d hate to rely on it 100%.  Goals without documentation are simply “wishes.” And wishes, my friends, get lost on the wind.

It’s true.

Solo-preneurs, artists, self-employed, hardworking peasants, we all have so much to do, so many hats to wear and so many If its important picexcuses at our disposal for not getting things done. It’s easy to fudge. No one is watching.  No one will tattle. Sometimes, something has to give, so we sacrifice our art, our business, our to do list…because we are the ones with the “flexibility.” Sooner or later the knowledge we do not fulfill self-made promises slowly erodes our sense of accomplishment, the health of our business and our self respect.

That’s true, too.

I like numbers. They’re definite. Here are some interesting ones:

  • Simply thinking about your goals will give you an average 43% chance of achieving them.
  •  If you want something and write it down with a detailed commitment,  you’ll be 64% more likely to succeed.
  •  If you write your goal down with a detailed commitment, share it with a trusted advisor and state a date to report back,  your likelihood of accomplishing your goal jumps to 76%! BAM!!!                                         

SMART goals pic

    Source – Dominican College of California

I’ve read statistics that are even higher for the last option….like 94%! But, writing your goals isn’t enough. Goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time sensitive. You know, SMART.  “I will work for 6 hours in my studio, 4 days a week on art producing activities and complete 1,500 works per month. “Is it SMART? Mostly it is, except if I only have 96 hours a month of production time, I’m probably NOT going to finish 1,500 pieces. So, I need to make some adjustments. 12 pieces? YES! 20 pieces? Maybe. Stretch yourself a bit. This is personal, it’s about you and it’s about you pushing yourself “just enough.” It has to hurt a little. It’s the rule. Especially for me…a recovering Catholic and recovering perfectionist.

Think of what you want to do with your talents, your ideas, your business. Create goals specific to support these dreams. Then, approach each day with a “To Do List” that supports the goals you’ve set to drive your business, develop your skill sets and address other relevant issues. Work on it. Everyday. Report the outcome to the person you told about the plan. Check it out! Now, you run the risk of actual SUCCESS.

So, focus on what you want to achieve. Create a SMART goal driven game plan, go to work and be persistent and at the end of the day, reward yourself for staying on track by sipping the sweet nectar of success.

You’re as good as goaled.

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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 Coaching pic  - Version 3their joyful hearts.♥

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Souler Power

Is angst the wellspring of creativity?

If you Google the word “wellspring” – this is the definition you find:

Wellspring – Noun

Kristen Kemper - Illustration
Kristen Kemper – Illustration

An original and bountiful source of something: “sadness is the wellspring of creativity.”

There are studies supporting creativity is driven by depression, mental illness, angst. I respectfully disagree.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe angst and times of emotional trial can lead to the creation of some incredible work. But, is it necessary to create good work? Emphatically, NOPE.

I’m drawing from the experience of my fully lived years. I’ve been highly creative my entire life. In my youthier youth I discovered excess negative emotions could drive my creative process. Tapping into the pain provided a jumping off place to create stories, poems and my life.  I not only felt things fully, but overy fully.

I’m thinking that typo may be a Freudian slip.

Ovaries may have had something to do with it. At such a young age, it’s often difficult to ascertain whether you’re experiencing baseline, valid emotions or are having a hormonal surge. Oh, come on….you know you’ve been there! Don’t judge!!! Anyway, I learned to rely on this state of mind to drive my creative process.

Then, in the dark hole of desperation, I gave up writing and poetry. For the next decade or so (please don’t do the math), I only produced the occasional poem because I was afraid. Afraid angst would be required to fuel the creative process. Mostly, I grew tired of being mired in drama, in lack, in introspective misery. I JUST WANTED TO BE HAPPY! Happy was the other, sunnier side of life. Happy was the unknown. I wanted to get me some of that Happy.

Woman with umbrella happy picAnd so….I became Happy. I was Happy. Still am. All you really need to do is want it, you know? It’s a choice, you simply DECIDE TO BE HAPPY (at this point I know you want to slap me). Regardless of what you think about this blog so far, that alone was worth the (perhaps) miserable price of admission. And, if the read IS miserable, use it to fuel your creative prowess. BAM – 2 for one… you  are  welcome!

Anyhou, I digress. Through the years, it’s become apparent to me that Happy can generate a ton of colourful, joyful, creative fodder. After the drama subsides we learn to look deeply at life with a set of more appreciative eyes. We’ve seen the good, we’ve seen the bad. With experience, we see life for more of what it is, than what we expect it to be (click to Tweet). We become friends with the hills and vales and learn to relish the landscape. We experience it. Observe it. Soak it in. This is the place from which joyful creation rises. This is also the place of honoring the journeys of others, deep forgiveness and non-judgment. I will not add wisdom, because that would be unwise. It’s where we see the beauty in the small, normal things…even, perhaps especially, imperfect things.

Most younger adults experience a lot of drama. It’s natural. They take every little thing to heart. The topic of knowing what is important to manage in life and what we can let go is addressed here in The Quicksand of Introspection. That discretion of knowing the difference comes from having trekked the landscape a time or two….and trekking takes time. 

If you’ve cultivated the habit of using negative, sad or agitated emotions to craft your creative forces, remember what Abraham Maslow said:

“To the man with only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

You’re more creative than THAT!  You have other tools and YOU CAN CONTROL THE WEATHER! Be truly creative – seed the clouds for sunshine. You have it in you! Tell angst it’s time for a change of seasons. You can get plenty of fuel from the sunnier side of life. Souler Power. Appreciate the beauty, the goodness, and find joy in life. Then go, bring in the light, and create some audacious work.

Forecast is for mostly sunny with only an occasional cloud,

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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 Coaching pic  - Version 3their 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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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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