An Appetite for Folklore

Oh, the battles we wage…inside.

I once saw a meme that read:

Wolf soulI’m not so sure I’d describe my soul as “difficult,” but I take conflicts that arise there seriously. I try to use all my coachy, self-help techniques to evolve into a “better person,” whatever that may mean.

There is a distinct possibility I’m using my soul as a canvas, splashing pretty colours, making mistakes and gessoing over them again. Just waiting, hoping a worthy masterpiece will emerge. (click to Tweet).

There’s a tale I occasionally share when I work with leadership groups. This week, I’ve told it twice to artists, so I maybe I need a broader audience. Here it goes…

One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside of people, even him.  He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is angry, envious, jealous, sorrowful, regretful, greedy, arrogant, full of self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joyful, peaceful, loving, hopeful, serene, full of humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then he asked, “Grandfather which wolf wins?…”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one I feed.”

The one I feed.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my own hungry wolves. The choice is mine which to feed. Sometimes, even knowing the consequences, I wander off the beaten path, into the thick of the woods and pitch a fine rib roast squarely in the slobbering jaws of the mean and evil wolf. Oh, how it feasts with delight! It becomes stronger, robust and is able to exert its power over the good wolf.

Sometimes I am a little wiser and remember to give the lion’s share to the good wolf. Things usually go well when I nurture the good wolf. He, in turn, protects me.

Consider yourself in the following circumstances. What is the outcome when the good wolf is in charge, verses the bad wolf? Their voices are quite different.

  • You are analyzing your work
  • You need encouragement to build a strong business
  • You seek courage to take risks
  • The outcome of a venture is unexpected
  • People you meet, perhaps difficult people, require your grace
  • You focus on gratitude for the gifts you’ve been given
  • You must patiently wait for an anticipated outcome
  • Others need the generosity of your time or resources

How do these situations vary given which wolf is being fed? How would the outcome be different if you fed only the good “wolf?” Could you even do that? It’s something to think about.

I, for one, am putting the ugly wolf on a diet. Lately, he’s a bit of a butterball (click to Tweet). If I do it right, maybe I can starve him, weaken him, cage him, enslave him…whoops, I think I went over the line. Well, awareness is the first step.

Feed your instincts!

Coaching

 

 

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

Writer, Artist, CoachFollow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

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Habits

HabitsNuns wear habits. The Monastery of the Angels, a website of Dominican Cloistered Nuns, explains it this way:

“A “habit” tells who the nuns are.  Nuns are women of prayer who have dedicated themselves to a life of prayer, penance and sacrifice.  They do not keep to themselves the fruit of their contemplation, but share it with others.”

Plain Ol’ Sinners like us have habits that are like this…sort of. Stick with me for the stretch. I promise to try to tie it together.

Our “holiest” of habits require a commitment, sacrifice, occasional penance and the fruit they produce is shared. Good habits are a blessing that we nurture from the seed of an idea.

Then there are “unholy” habits. Gosh, where to begin? I’ve got some unproductive, self-indulgent, fear based, lazy-assed habits myself. They feel wonderful when I’m fully engaged in them, like a cuddly ol’ horse hair shirt, but I almost always regret it later. It’s like good and evil fighting for possession of my soul! You devil, Rocky Road ice cream!

They tell people who we are. They demonstrate our dedication to certain practices. Our habits reflect our values, our self-esteem, our passion, our “fire” and our mental disorders. Excessive hand washing, anyone? It’s cold and flu season, you know?  Some of us hold tight to our habits…religiously.

One thing is for sure – our habits create our days, our lives, our careers, our futures, our friends and families. They are POWERFUL! (click to Tweet).

Habits
“Wave” 12×12 Oil By Jill Christian

I was recently chatting with my art partner, Jill Christian (sounds like she would wear a habit) about the value of goals. You remember goals? I drilled you about them towards the end of last year. Jill was tossing around the idea that habits may be more important than goals for creating the lives we want. It’s a compelling conundrum. Our audacious goals need the right habits to fuel them, AND, being the hedonist I am, I think we really ought to throw in some fun, maybe a couple “soft/bad” habits, to take the drudgery from all those good habits. We don’t want to end up with too many “shoulds,” after all!

The cousin to habits is most assuredly “Time.” I’ve addressed the issue of time management.

Poor habits can gnaw away at time, the same way worry sharpens its teeth on your well-being (click to Tweet).

To create the life you desire you have to get a handle on time and use it as the starter crank to your good habits.

So, just a little communion wafer for thought, this week. Are your habits helping or hurting you when it comes to creating the life you desire? Is it time for a self-check? A couple minor adjustments? Cornette a little crooked?

Okay, I’ve said my sermon. I really not sure whether to ask forgiveness or just bow my head in reverence.

Can I get an Amen?

Coaching

 

 

 

Special thanks to Jill Christian for being a great artist and a great thinker. Thank you for contributing your beautiful artwork to this post. Find Jill at www.facebook.com/jill.christian.art  or on her website.

If you would like your art featured on my blog, please send a quality image in a jpeg format with the title and permission for use. If the appropriate topic fits your image, I’ll credit you and publish a link to your site!  

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

Writer, Artist, CoachFollow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 

Endings and Beginnings

(Note: This may be the least humorous, most content rich post I’ve ever written. I’ve provided links to previous posts as resources for you.  I hope it helps you create a blueprint for making your dreams come true in 2014…should you choose to create one! Please, as you link to the other posts, feel free to comment on them and share them…Thank you for helping The Art of the Well Lived Life GROW! I am grateful for your readership.  ~ m)

I’m feeling a lot of pressure this time of year. It’s all good stuff, but it feels like none of the balls should be dropped, lest they shatter New Beginningslike a delicate Christmas ornament and shatter to pieces the dreams of a hopeful child…yep….pressure.

The fact that time marches on and I’m smack in the middle of the path has me a bit concerned (click to Tweet). Nature calls…not like THAT, silly! The moon was full the other night, so I felt the need to have a final, good, scrubbing for 2013 and not track any dirt into the pristine promise of 2014. Here’s more about how I journal in accordance with the moon.

Also, Solstice is peeking her head around the corner and I adore her! It’s tomorrow! *LET THERE BE LIGHT! * Days will get longer. Hope springs from light and warmth and new growth. Many consider solstice the dawning of the new year. Whether you celebrate December 20th or January 1 – it’s staring you in the face! In the midst of all the celebration and fervor, have you considered what you want to do with your 2014? It’ll happen, whether you plan some audacious strides or not.(click to Tweet).

new pathI encourage you to take this time to consider what their ideal year would look like. This may easily consist of more than your business goals…you might like to review the Life Balance Wheel and see if you have any gaping holes that will swallow your best laid plans like a sink hole in Central Florida. (Of course, you aren’t planning a sink hole! I mean swallow the PLANS! Never mind…)   Once you know which areas you’d like to bolster,  create a list of the things you’d like to do next year to make it happen. Make your goals S.M.A.R.T. – if you don’t, well, that’s just not smart, and I don’t want to call you stupid or anything…you’re an adult, you  can draw your own conclusions.

There are lots of ways of backing those goals into your calendar. Identify and engage  resources and support groups to help you achieve your goals, or hire a coach to help you find your way and overcome your demons (hint, hint). I have some screaming deals on artist’s coaching packages (click to Tweet).

And FINALLY, because so much is about attitude…don’t forget your “Nutshell” word. That single, guiding word that will be your compass for the upcoming year. Where are you in your journey? What do you want to express? For example, last year mine was “joy.”

Just a few things to think about between baking, wrapping, traveling, finishing the year end books and anything else that may be on your plate. Don’t forget – when it’s all over it will just be you…and 365 days you’ve been given to make your dreams come true. Manage your time wisely.

Cheers!

To New Beginnings!

Coaching

 

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their Writer, Artist, Coachdreams by helping them improve productivity and cultivate good behaviours while eliminating poor ones.
Follow her on  Facebook on Twitter

 For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 Ready for some creative fun while pursuing your dreams for the new year? I’ll be having a Beginning Mosaic Workshop called ” Magic in 2014″ in January. Register or  learn more!
 

 

This Free Spirit

This free spirit sings aloud, filled with mirth.

 This free spirit sometimes partakes of dessert before dinner.

 This free spirit dances with dogs, many of them, all at once.

This free spirit feasts eyes upon bold and lively colour palettes.

 This free spirit sports costumes which please her…sometimes to the amusement of others.

 This free spirit speaks her truth, never trying to hurt, but to connect and understand.

 This free spirit takes chances, knowing this life is precious, to be celebrated and savored.

This free spirit feels deeply, loves fearlessly and is loyal to the end.

This free spirit can soar when the surroundings feel harmonious and beautiful.

This free spirit should not be crossed…no…you don’t want to do that.

 This free spirit feels your stories and is honored to hold your hand along the path.  

      This free spirit has been known to eat nothing but chocolate for an entire day (click to Tweet).Tweet:

 

This free spirit laughs at her own jokes and will laugh at yours…if they’re funny.

This free spirit wants to see everyone she meets stand in their own light, no matter their light, she appreciates the “illumination.”

 This free spirit loves animals and household furnishings and must confess…loves them equally.

This free spirit is curious and sees the wonder in all things.

This free spirit speaks her mind. Then sometimes has to apologize.

“This free spirit has given both permission and immortality to her inner child.” (click birdie to Tweet)

Tweet:

This free spirit cries at the sweetness of life and the imperfection of her own soul.

 

Set Yourself FREE! 

Coaching

 

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their Writer, Artist, Coachdreams by helping them improve productivity and cultivate good behaviours while eliminating poor ones.
Follow her on  Facebook on Twitter

 For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 

Ready for some creative fun while pursuing your dreams for the new year? I’ll be having a Beginning Mosaic Workshop called ” Magic in 2014″ in January. Register or  learn more!

 

Rearranging the Room in Your Head

When I call this a “Confessional Blog” I’m not fooling around. This week I’ll share a recent experience and give you a tour inside my head; some insight into how my brain works.

You. Should. Brace. Yourself.

Sometimes I free up space in my head and go all conceptual, philosophical ninja on my defenseless self (click to Tweet). I do this without medicinal aids or the use of any hallucinogenics. That’s right, it’s all natural – like the Whole Foods of psychosis. I might be going out on a limb today, but hey, falling is a chance I’ll take. Remember, I vowed to live as fearlessly as possible. Here’s the story…

Following my breath into my yoga practice yesterday morning a strange thought came to me. Suddenly, I imagined I was not little Free from Doubtme, rather, I was Elizabeth Gilbert. You know, the best-selling author of  “Eat, Pray, Love” and her newest release “The Signature of All Things.” I’ve read Gilbert’s interviews. She’s a thoughtful, kind, down to earth human being. Yesterday, Gilbert herself planted her butt on my yoga mat; she took up rent in my cranium.  How did it feel?

Different

So, I began a little experiment. I was Georgia O’Keeffe. I was John Mayer. I embodied  Helen Frankenthaler and Hemingway.  For the record, Hemingway’s balance and flexibility suck wind. With each writer, artist or musician I noticed a subtle change in my body. It differed depending upon the person. It was always different than “I” feel in “my” body. Experiencing each of these people had one feeling in common.

It was…liberating.

I don’t know about you, but when I see people who are revered in their fields I make a big assumption. I assume the doubts, self-consciousness and challenges that go along with striving for that status have long fallen away for them. I assume they’re simply solid in their craft and their souls are free to pursue the world sans doubt. Surely they wake up swinging life by the tail! This freedom allows them to pursue and enjoy doing their best work. Their gifts are free to flow. Unfettered.

To be humble, I have a few…well at least one…well-honed skill(s). When I reflect upon my own experience of using these skills, I realize this “lack of doubt” may not be true of  ALL accomplished people. Perhaps some of them still struggle with insecurity, but surely some must have broken free of the bonds. How would life be different if we each stepped into that space? Not a place of arrogance or haughtiness – instead, a place where the voice of doubt is hushed, quieted.  A space where confidence is given permission to take the “mountain pose.” What would happen then? (click to Tweet)

Freedom from DoubtHow would I be different if I weren’t wondering if I’d ever “do it well enough?”

What if I quietly, internally, accepted I already “did do it well enough?”

How would YOU be different if you stepped into that space?

I had a discussion with a brilliant man about this. I have to say that… he’s reading this. He wondered if the doubt fell away, would the drive and fire be diminished? I encourage you to go deeper. The drive and fire are still alive, only doubt and self-consciousness are diminished. How would you feel? Stop. How. Would. You. Feel?

God has given each of us our own unique gifts. It’s criminal not to unleash them…practice them…share them with the world. Isn’t that why we’re here? It’s not in our benefit to play small, although our fears find gleeful satisfaction in keeping us tiny. It is not our responsibility to feed them.

I’m sorry you’ve read this far (you are still reading, aren’t you?) and I’ve offered no answers. My purpose, I suppose, is to start the conversation. Would you entertain the thought of how this freedom might change your life, your work, your relationships? No one is asking you to change who you are, only to consider rearranging the space in which your spirit resides (click to Tweet).

I look forward to your thoughts.

Please, don’t institutionalize me,

Coaching

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their Writer, Artist, Coachdreams by helping them improve productivity and cultivate good behaviours while eliminating poor ones.
Follow her on  Facebook on Twitter

 For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 

Ready for some creative fun while pursuing your dreams for the new year? I’ll be having a Beginning Mosaic Workshop called ” Magic in 2014″ in January. Register or  learn more!

Sniff

productivity

I don’t read fiction.

I’ve always considered it unproductive. I guess, in a way,  I’m a commitmentphobe.  A story must be finished to learn what “happens.”  If I stop short, I waste time. What if I don’t like the read? If I read a non-fiction book I can walk away at any time and take with me the knowledge that’s been shared. There are no “sunk costs” with non-fiction.  Fiction has sunk costs. (click to Tweet)

If I start something I finish it.

I don’t so much stop and smell roses along the way, though I won’t judge you for sniffin’ the perfume and may even advise you to do it. But me, I just plow right though. Finish it. Move on. NEXT!

I don’t sit and chill.

You guessed it. A colossal waste of time (for me). You can chill though, I know it’s good for some folks, but chillin’, for me, requires being still – and I can’t be still for too long. If my body isn’t moving, my mind likes to be doing the cartwheels.

If I do it right, I bleed.

Yes, that’s the litmus test. Catholic upbringing and work ethic have taught me that I have to go the extra mile. I have to leave a little blood on whatever I do – figuratively speaking, of course.  It should hurt to be “good.” Hey, I know it’s a fallacy and don’t call it “perfectionism” because you know how I adore imperfection. I know it’s not true, but it’s in me…in the quick…so I partake in the regular bloodletting. Feels good. (click to Tweet)

Enter Raging Rhinitis

My husband shares everything, including his wicked common cold. Last week, that thug, “Rhinitis” rolled me and stole all my goods. (click to Tweet)

 I. Got. Mugged.  

I spent the historical equivalent of 3 days down for the count. Once I acquiesced, I decided in my typical fashion, to leverage the time I had left. I set up shop by the hearth and went to work relaxing (yeah, I realize the irony in that sentence). Here’s what I found most healing:

  • A good book
  • A gentle fire
  • Tea
  • Several lengthy, mouth-breathing naps – sequential or gently spaced – didn’t matter
  • Not writing
  • Not painting
  • Not making the bed
  • Not doing much of anything
  • Snuggling with a cuddly blankie
  • Chicken soup (made for me with loving care, thankfully)
  • Hangin’ with my hounds
  • Allowing myself to be taken care of by others
  • Proper drugs
  • Chocolate

On the 3rd day I probably could have risen, but hey, I’m not that Guy. Truly, I was able to leave my post, but didn’t make any serious attempts to rejoin the real world. I was finally “allowing” myself to unwind. Trusting if I took a break I could restart the engine. Being gentle with myself.

It. Felt. So. Good.  !  Delicious.

Which brings me to the question. Why continue to allow such crazy beliefs to run my life? I see other ways working great for other people? What makes me so unspecial?  Isn’t it enriching to explore the other side? Scientific evidence supports stopping to “smell the roses.”

I vow to schedule more breaks like this…only sans phlegm. Maybe one-a-day, like a vitamin. Or simply take them as life serves them.  I’ll recognize and banish the para-abnormal overactivity that robs me of the “now.” (click to Tweet) Don’t get me wrong. I fill my days with work I love and with the people I find the most endearing, but I still subscribe to some strange beliefs, one being I don’t need to take care of myself the way I’d take care of someone else I love. I’ll bet you do, too. Care to take your inventory and vent your confession with me? You can jot a note below. You’ll probably feel better. I did. And  then, we can smell the roses together.

Sniff, sniff (but the good kind),

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Ripe for some creative fun while pursuing your dreams for the new year? I’ll be having a Beginning Mosaic Workshop called ” Magic in 2014″ in January. Register or  learn more!

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their Writer, Coachdreams by helping them improve productivity and for good behaviours while eliminating poor ones. Follow her on  Facebook on Twitter

 

 

 

Life and Death in the Pot

Are you superstitious? I’ve addressed this topic with executives in regards to superstitious leadership, but magical thinking applies Superstitions and Obstaclesto so many people and can be used against us, or to our benefit.

Because our beliefs can hold us back or propel us forward, consider your own obstacles.  Are they real or imagined? Are they helping or hurting? What’s defining you? Is it with or without your permission?  (click to Tweet)

I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but you must believe this…YOU ARE in control.  What’s more (brace yourself) most of the time that means EVEN if your life sucks. For glass half full folks, that’s good news!

Oh, I sound so sure, so bold. Pffffft! Well, it wasn’t always that way. Here’s a little story:

My violet is on life support.

I’ve owned the same African violet for over 20 years. It’s been with me through growing a family, weathering a former miserable marriage, the disillusion – oops – dissolution of that marriage, 4 moves, finding the love of my life, marriage, blending a family, empty nesting and career changes. My violet has blossomed when I’ve thrived and slumped, on the brink of disaster, as I’ve wrestled with life’s difficulties. Her mood indicates the state of my life, so she is known as “My Life Violet.” My family knows which one it is…the one in the bright, white, ceramic pot. The one that sits with all the others, but serves as the barometer of my current state and points the finger of fate at my future state. I’ve always respected her, but things have been changing.

Superstitions and obstaclesEarlier this year, after years of life in the pot and regular feedings and watering, she stood barren in a small bit of soil. She didn’t look good. I felt fine, but trembled at the consequences my plant’s condition could bring. My son brought soil and I repotted her – the first time she’d been tampered with in over 20 years. She seemed reinvigorated and grew 2 new leaves. But still, she stood frail and unsure.

Meanwhile, I’ve continued to build my career and pursue my passion. I’ve moved from a primarily corporate existence into the creative community. I’ve moved studios, secured a 2nd studio, grown a blog following and a coaching business and I have NOT experienced the difficulties the violet indicates.  Could she be in this alone?

Today, as I look at this once thriving plant, I must admit, it looks pretty hopeless for her. The 2 leaves of promise are sallow and shriveled. After over 2 decades, locked in the psychological grip of this small plant, I have decided to let her go. I suppose she’s my “Old Life” violet.

It’s time to move forward. To let past beliefs go. It may be time for you to do that, too. It’s time to tap into the essence of who we are, why we’re here and to embrace that mission fearlessly, with the gusto and passion that ignites us. 2014 is on the horizon so the timing is perfect!

Our spirits are independent of the obstacles we erect, the stories we tell ourselves and the opinions held by others (click to Tweet).  So, sit that drivel down. Give it permission to die. Have faith and make the commitment. From now on, I will be….

Blooming on My Own!

Coaching

 

Ripe for some creative fun while pursuing your dreams for the new year? I’ll be having a Beginning Mosaic Workshop called ” Magic in 2014″ in January. Register or  learn more!

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their dreams by helping themWriter, Coach improve productivity and for good behaviours while eliminating poor ones. Follow her on  Facebook on Twitter

 

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 

 

Play Grounded

Play GroundedLately, I’ve been a bit wonky. Does that ever happen to you? I know I’m off kilter because I get stressed by things that wouldn’t typically bother me, feel rushed, overcommitted and generally out of balance. It’s about life balance.

Life is like a teeter totter, it’s fun when everything is working, but if the counter balance abandons you, your bum hits the earth with a heart-stopping THUD and that HURTS! (click to Tweet)

I’ve been on this playground before. I’ve ridden the little pony merry go round, got dizzy and thrown up.  I’ve found cat turds in the sandbox, been pushed around by bullies and gripped the monkey bars so tightly my hands blistered (click to Tweet). Finally, I learned when to take a seat in the shade of the big tree and gaze at the clouds. Given my vast playground experience, I can recognize the warning signs and change activities  before I become a publicly raving idiot…um…. or is that what I’m doing now?

So, how do you know when you’re at the edge, getting ready to take the precarious tip off the corkscrew slide and do a face plant in the itchy cedar shavings?  It helps if you can recognize it before you start up the ladder.

Here’s what I look for (your warning signs may be different):

  • Things aren’t as funny as they used to be
  • Things aren’t as rewarding as they used to be
  • Things aren’t as relaxing as they used to be
  • I get bothered by things being out of place
  • I feel OBLIGATED
  • I feel empty
  • I start to forget details
  • It starts to not feel so fun

Grrreat. What can I DO?

I normally go to my coaching “Life Balance Wheel” and take a little assessment. I rank myself between 1 and 10 on each section, 1 being very dissatisfied and 10 being completely satisfied. I’m not ranking what I think I should be doing or how much effort I put into each section. I’m ranking how satisfied I am with that part of my life RIGHT NOW. I know it’s an “old” tool, but it works. It covers the major areas of life satisfaction and will immediately alert the “assessee” of where to get the most bang for the buck. For the record, I include spiritual development in the personal growth category, but that is highly personal and up to you. Hint, start with the low scoring areas first, and calendar some activities to support that part of your life.

Life Balance

Generally, if I work too much, my recreation and family life suffers. That doesn’t feel so good, so if I take specific measures to connect with those parts of my life, I feel much better. If I play (recreate) too much, my work and finances suffer. The prescription then becomes to focus more heavily on earning behaviours…like work. Easy! The trick is to have the wheel balanced. You want it to roll nicely…no flat places or huge dips (like the teeter totter) cuz we want to save our bums.

I have a few personal triggers that will stop me in my tracks…clutter. Yep, if my surroundings are in disarray, I won’t be able to think straight…so better straighten up so I can get some breathing room and make the next steps count. If you need ideas how to deal with clutter check out this post.

Feel free to use this wheel. Are there areas you could focus on to improve the satisfaction level in your life? What are your early warning signs you’re off kilter? You don’t want to do a face plant in the itchy cedar shavings. Take some baby steps, know when to give yourself a time out and you’ll be squealing with delight in no time!

Play Grounded,

Signaturef

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their dreams by helping them improve productivity by helping them form good behaviours and eliminating poor ones. Follow her on Michelle Headshot plushy coatFacebook on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 

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.

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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.

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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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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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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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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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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.♥

Find her on Facebook or Twitter