20/20 is Hindsight

I remember, years ago, asking my mother the benefit of getting older. I was sure there must be a big payoff for Guide dog puprelinquishing one’s dewy youthfulness, a prize like a parade or Clearing House Sweepstakes. After all, the exchange for creaky knees and wrinkles does seem somewhat inequitable.

Nada.

That’s what she told me. I remember asking, “Isn’t there something? A richness that comes with aging?”  Her reply was a flat, brutal. “You just get older.”

I’ve thought about that conversation many, many times. I’ve also promised myself it wouldn’t be like that for me. Now, in Mom’s defense, perhaps she didn’t know what I was looking for, or maybe I caught her on a bad day. But, the fateful conversation stuck with me and I’ve spent my years determined to take the deep dive into any small grain of gain, any wisdom, any understanding, any peaceful, embryonic, Jacuzzi bath of reparation that might exist…ready to snatch it up in a second.

What you look for you usually find. Wouldn’t you agree? If you look for the bad in someone…you’ll see it. If you look for possibilities, they emerge. If you look for the happy, rewarding moments in life, they magically appear. I like to say,

“Stuff grows where intention flows.”  (click to Tweet)  I do believe it’s true.

So, as I careen into the “deep” years of my life, I do so with eyes wide open, darting, searching for the golden ring. I’m not all that creaky yet, but when the creaking comes,  I want to know what I traded up to.  So far, here’s what I’ve discovered:

That’s right. I can no longer read the print on the bottom of the lipstick tubes and shampoo bottles. Why do they even bother?  It’s my understanding that eventually lips and hair disappear anyway. Why do I have to wear magnifying glasses when I paint? I’ve been assured my eyes are fine…I’ve been adjusted to 20/20.

Yes, I’ve noticed lines forming on my skin. Things that hurt take longer to heal. I’ve noticed some changes “inside,” too.

For my age:

  • My heart is more steady.
  • My soul has learned to listen.
  • I am selectively inspired by those who have gone before me.
  • I don’t jump to conclusions, but have ratcheted it back to a modified “hop.”
  • I look for the “why” with people’s behaviour.
  • I am slower to condemn.
  • I mind my own business more.
  • I am more inclined to enjoy my own company.
  • I look deeper for the possibilities.
  • I enjoy “watching.”
  • I am more immersed in the practice of gratitude
  • My creativity has blossomed.
  • I seek to be of service.
  • I want to leave something behind rather than take more than I need.
  • I work to keep my soul “right.”

Like I said, as we age our eyesight fails, but our vision becomes more acute. That certainly is something to lean in to, something to, pardon the pun, look forward to. There is much terrain to be explored, through another set of eyes, through a more open heart, through a gentler character.

To be fully disclosing, and you know I am, I must set the record straight…I’m not all the way “there.” I still get irritated by some of the “going ons” in day to day living. I still find it easier to forgive character flaws than stupidity. Stupid should hurt. But, I am on the rails of my chosen track  and looking forward to the trip. I’m grateful for it. I’m learning to see differently. (click to Tweet).

What has time given to you? What have you gained as life moves along? Feel free to share here…we’re all friends.

 Choose to be farsighted,

Coaching

 

 

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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The Problem with Shoulding Yourself

should comparisonI’ve been shoulding on myself. It’s a nasty, stinky, embarrassing business. It took me well into adulthood to break this filthy habit, and I thought I was finished with the whole, ugly mess.

But, no.

“Comparison is the thief of joy,” said Theodore Roosevelt. He was wise in so many ways. Life Hacker explores it further here.

My intellect is convinced comparison is the perfect way to verify my progress, validate my work and move forward. What kind of drooling, slack-jawed logic is that? (Click to Tweet)

For instance, if I were producing cutting edge work, creating never before seen,  mind-blowing and history-making art, who would validate that? My hubs would, for sure…but probably no one else. Being the weak-minded, approval seeking artist I am, I’d probably stop what I was doing, hang my head in shame, strike a match and burn the canvasses.

 NO!

I know better. Picasso painted shit sometimes. For me, it’s time to regroup, re-set the compass and follow one of my guiding principles… again…

Yeah, I do realize the irony here. Ahem…moving right along…

  • I will not utter the word or entertain the thought I should paint soley to please others.
  • I will not utter the word or entertain the thought I should paint solely to make money (though, I still welcome monetary appreciation).
  • I will not utter the word or entertain the thought I SHOULD be doing more, or differently, or like “X.” Art is an
    Comparison
    “New England Polaroid” Courtesy of Micah Crandall Bear

    expression of who we are. If you told me to write differently, I’d tell you to stick it right up your own “shoulder.” (um, that’s should-er…not shoulder. Everyone’s a critic).

The creative process is a freeing, often joyful, venting of the soul. How can creativity truly take flight when you’re desperately trying to follow rules set by society, groups and the muckity-mucks? They all have different opinions. The very nature of striving to please others completely interferes with the process.  When we compare ourselves to others, or even compare our previous work to our current work, it can cause issues. If worrying about the measurements doesn’t impact our work, it is apt to affect commitments we’ve made to ourselves. That being said, we do need to employ methods to move forward and grow. But, not at the expense of our art itself.

A friend, Micah Crandall-Bear, whose work I simply adore, recently posted this quote:

should comparison

 Thank you for sharing the quote, Micah. It gave me the permission I needed. Someday I should be lucky to paint

just. like. you.

Crud!  I guess everyone’s entitled to a slip now and then.

 Keep it Clean!

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Special thanks to Micah Crandall-Bear for his generosity and sharing an image of his incredible work and Andy Warhol’s quote. He can be found at www.micahcrandallbear.com 

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. 

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!

Don’t Push, Folks!

I don’t like pushy people.Pushy people

And, I don’t think it’s just me that feels that way.

Last week someone struck me as “pushy” and it set off a chain reaction. I’m not a spineless wimp…people who know me well will attest that I have a “mind of my own.” I’ve scrimmaged in the corporate shark tank, occasionally swimming away the spoils (click to Tweet). But, it is not in my nature to continually vie for my way. When I see other people doing it, I am often embarrassed for them. I certainly empathize with the poor soul who must “deal” with them. It’s just one reason I love my creative community. Many are deep thinking, deep feeling people. They tend to be self-aware and not pushy…not very often.

Last week I felt pushed. I was also in the mood to explore it a bit further, so I pitched a public question. “Complete the sentence – Pushy people are…..” It set off a firestorm.

  • Obnoxious
  • Drive me nuts
  • Need to be pulled
  • Cannot control their own lives
  • Make great shopping card retrievers
  • Are scared

Wait! Scared? That remark stoked my philosophical fire.

After a deep dive into the subject of strident “me-ism” I came to the following conclusion. This is my understanding of “pushy” – yours may vary:

“Pushy is, as pushy does.” Maybe it has more to do with the exchange of energy. For whatever reason (insecurity, fear) the pushy person has more energy around their action or response than the receiver. We then “perceive” this as pushy. If we don’t have enough energy to engage in the conversation, to respectfully discuss, to disarm, we then feel pushed. It’s all imagined. We are responsible to uphold our own boundaries. If I’m too tired or lazy (let’s face it, when the energy is low, that’s what it is) to engage in a conversation because it requires energy I’m unwilling to give, labeling them as “pushy” is a cop out. We can all be pushy if it’s important enough to us.

Some people have been rewarded for their nervy behaviour. Many might agree, this encourages them to push harder, push more often. As a coach, I’ve often observed clients overuse a strategy that has worked for them in the past. If it quits working, they may continue to employ it with an added, over-assertive push. Bad news.

Others have been shoved by the insistent pusher and swear off assertiveness. They recoil at the thought of being perceived as brash or  pushy and may not pursue their desires. They hold back, eventually loosing their courage. They lose their voice; grow resentful.

The perfect balance lies somewhere in between.

Aggressive pursuit is undoubtedly fueled by emotion, perceived value and is topic specific. Sometimes you need to push. Sometimes you need to give. Sometimes you simply need to understand (click to Tweet).

Difficult People - By Noel Sandino
Difficult People – By Noel Sandino

What about you?

Do you overuse, or underuse this behaviour? Are you getting everything you want while those around you are accommodating you? Are you finding people avoid you? Are you resentful of those who get what they want? Feel they’ll drain you dry? Have you lost your voice?

I think it’s worth at least a brief examination. Achieving your goals is important, but at the end of the day, our lives are built on a series of relationships (click to Tweet). A good balance of both is essential for the fulfillment and connectedness we all crave. And, when we see someone going off the rails, the best strategy may be to proceed without judgment, engage them in dialogue when our energy is high, and seek a mutually acceptable (or at least understood) answer.

Please, don’t push folks, there’s enough for everyone!

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

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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! 

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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!

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,

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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

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Command the Brand

Art BrandingCreatives have their plates full. I know you hear people say they wish they could hang out and (fill in the blank)________(write, draw, paint, sculpt, play music) all day, but they don’t know what you REALLY do.

Unless you’re a successful, established, uber lucky artist, chances are you’re doing some of your own branding, marketing and go-getting. I don’t have a “slave spouse” to run my business…I am my own slave. Don’t get me wrong, hubby is my biggest fan, but he doesn’t order supplies, create and order marketing materials, do my social media promotion, write press releases or even stage my installations – but he is willing to help hang them.

So, this week, prepare to get an earful of my “stream of consciousness” ramblings about how whatever you are, that’s not ALL you are! (click to Tweet)

I remember back in the day when I was a new coach. I had a discussion with a colleague about being a coach. I told her coaching was a tool, but you are a business owner first. She disagreed, and as a matter of fact, I believe the proclamation offended her. What I do know is this…

If I paint all day, every day, I will have a lot of paintings in my studio and no one will ever see them. (click to Tweet).

I have to market those suckers. I have to get them out into the light of day. Once dry, they need to be priced, photographed, catalogued, tracked, and SHOWN – otherwise, they are mine forever, and I do want them to go to good homes where other people can enjoy them. I have to let people know when and where to see them. I have to update my website, promote them on social media…the list goes on and on.

Sure, you can hire people to help you with some of these things…and you SHOULD get help rather than spending a full day Computer problemsdesigning a postcard, shipping your work, loading software (or whatever you’re banging your head against the keyboard trying to do).  I, personally, like the option of having access to my own website to update it, although I had a great developer help me when it was initially created. So, you pick and choose your chores – cuz you’re a grown up now!  But, let’s not reinvent the wheel every time, eh? Let’s work smarter, not harder so we can spend more time doing the work we love.

Given all the stuff we have to do besides honing our craft, I suggest the following platform for maximizing your branding efforts.

 Your Artist’s Statement is your Branding Platform. (click to Tweet).

Craft a comprehensive, concise and authentic artist statement. If you don’t know how, read last week’s blog post . Some of you requested “samples” and you may find them here.  Remember, not all the examples are good artist’s statements – so read the blog first, then see if you can tease out the pearls from the swine. (Hint: shorter is better…we’ll isn’t that terrific news?)

 Get clear on who you are and why you do what you do. Own it. Don’t chisel it in stone because we all change, the market changes, our art changes, “stuff” changes. The main thing is to be clear on who you are – now.  Like a geological formation, artist statements do evolve over time.

Now, take those few principles you’ve noted in your statement and use those to promote your branding.

  • Use part of it in a tagline for your business cards and other business materials, if that’s appropriate.
  •  Pick key phrases for postcards and other marketing materials.
  • Use your collectors’ favourite images of your work on promotional materials.
  •  Stay organized so you can find them these materials in a moments notice and won’t have to reinvent them.
  • Conduct yourself in accordance with your branding. This shouldn’t be a challenge since your statement is authentic, right? Walk the talk and be your brand.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful and time-saving, so you might spend a bit more time doing the creative work that drives you. It’s always a balancing act, but you can have considerable command.

Command the Brand,

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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

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Make a Statement – Writing the Artist’s Statement

Writing your artist's statementDisclaimer: No babies were eaten by sharks in the writing of this blogpost. 

Does the thought of writing an artist’s statement make you run for high ground? Sometimes, visual geniuses, like you, will not take swimmingly to the “fodder of word water.” For some, they find it cold and uninviting.

Artist’s statements are short statements written about your body of work. They demonstrate and communicate your deliberate intention when creating the work and give the viewer some insight into you, your process and the work they are viewing. It is simply what, why and how you do what you do.  None of it is too in depth. It is a concise statement – only one to two paragraphs – so people can feel like they know something about you and understand a bit about your work and the intention you had when creating it. The artist’s statement should be designed to make people want to see more of your work (click to Tweet).

To write a successful statement, you need to stay out of shark infested waters. The artist’s statement should not sound pseudo intellectual. Don’t get full of yourself and try to talk over people’s heads – it’s rude. Keep controversial statements and biographical details OUT of your artist’s statement. We have bios, resumes and statements of work to cover those bases. I KNOW, now it writing your artist's statementsounds like you’re writing a book, right? Nope. This is just an artist’s statement, but it’s the foundation of your work, personal vision and business. The artist’s statement is a blueprint for you to clarify your own goals and intentions and share them with galleries, museums, potential collectors, viewers and other artists – all of which are potential business partners!

Artist’s statements are fluid. They evolve over your career and are revised as you and your work grow. Their evolution serves as a fantastic, historical document of your career…oooh, that sounds scary. I shouldn’t have put that in…who wants to write one now? Don’t recoil! Here are some floatation tips that will have you free-styling in no time:

  • Your first draft is your first draft – it’s gesso – don’t sweat it (click to Tweet)
  • Write the statement in first person. It’s about you, so use the pronoun “I”
  • When writing, focus on your current body of work
  • This statement is a “small work” with BIG impact. 2 paragraphs should do it justice. If you’re really good, one paragraph can nail it. Grab the reader’s attention from the beginning.
  • Stick to what you do, how you do it and why. It’s about you and your artistic process.
  • After the first draft take some time away from your statement. Your fresh eyes will be an asset later.
  • Return to the statement to fill it with high impact words and prune the unnecessary details.
  • Ask people you trust to look it over for you. Make sure your spelling, grammar and context are good. If you’re really having trouble, get professional help. Many art organizations teach professional development classes.  I know, because I teach some of those classes.
  • Revisit your artist’s statement and revise it at least once a year or more often, as needed.
  • Include a picture. Of yourself. People like to see the artist.

So, go ahead, write your artist statement…just the first draft. Next week I’m adding to this foundational principle, so check again, or subscribe to the blog so you can learn how to maximize your branding.

Don’t Bail! Make a Statement!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessdreams by helping them improve productivity by helping them form good behaviours and eliminating poor ones. Follow her on Facebook on Twitter

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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.

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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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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

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

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.♥

Find her on Facebook or Twitter

The Quicksand of Introspection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll be waiting for my wedding invitation,

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

 

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Bloom Before You Go to Seed

Disclaimer: The following content is not a judgment. It’s a musing…a simple observation of how life reveals itself in recurring themes, curtains of consciousness that run parallel and present occasional opportunities to transfer learning from one “universe” to another. I hope you enjoy the read.

There’s a restaurant I go to on occasion. I’ve noticed there’s some dynamic action, mostly around the bar, especially on group-of-people-with-drinks-at-nightclub-barThursday nights. I call it the “30 Something Death Gasp” phenomenon. Thursday is the night, kind of like a vampire calling, when all the 30 something singles go out in hopes of making their lives what they had expected, but haven’t yet created.  Well, at least they appear to know what they want.

You can hear the TICK TOC of the biological clocks. It smells like the place in in rut, but it’s the best fire roasted chicken in the world, so I continue to go and witness the “30 Something Death Gasp.”  The roasted artichokes are to die for, and well, let me be honest, I’m fascinated by watching this dynamic. The patrons at the bar seem to have identified their niche and are executing their PLAN.

Recently, at a business networking meeting, I was asked about my niche. Geez, I’m sort of a renaissance woman, you know? (Hahaha!) I do a little coaching, some corporate facilitations, write a bit and work in my studio, doing my art. Occasionally, I teach a mosaic workshop spiced up with some soul searching for the participants. It seems like everyone has a great time, but niche? I really can’t put my finger on it. I do know I have a PLAN. Several, actually. I know what I want — I want to create and to help.

I’ve watched people who’ve denied themselves the privilege of experimenting with new ideas, new mediums, new skill sets. They second guess their choices, wonder if it would have been different had they followed their calling. AND, what is their calling anyway? It has come to my attention I may have defined my niche in the chicken restaurant. I am the coach, the writer, the artist, the teacher for the 30-50 something “gaspers” that are looking for their calling, segueing into something of more substance, trying to embrace their purpose. I’m the coach for the “starting overs,” the “doing it differentlies,” the “it was always my dream to’s” that are looking at the acts of their lives and not wanting to be crying during the curtain call.

I love to help people identify and live their passion so they can BLOOM before they go to seed. I want to do it with humour, with fun and to be there to help celebrate the victory when the skies open and the angels sing (or whatever)!

How about you? Something you’ve always wanted to do?  Do you have a longing desire or calling? A strong, yet flexible plan? Go for it! It feels so good. Awaken and feed that passion and excitement. Even if you’re busy with other commitments right now, just a taste now and then can be oh, so satisfying (Click to Tweet). Someday soon, I hope you are able to sit down at the table and devour the feast – chicken, roasted artichokes, et, al!

Bloom….before you go to seed!

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