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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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!

Care and Feeding of the Muse – Aspirations of Inspiration

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

GOOD FOR YOU! 

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

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

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

Inspiration graphic

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

BE INSPIRED!!!

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

 

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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

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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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butt in Saddle, Peace in Heart

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

Hafiz

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

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

 But there’s more…

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

it.can.be.difficult.

654px-Sacred_lotus_Nelumbo_nucifera

As Ghandi said:

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

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

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

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

May your butt stay firmly in the saddle!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Johnny Depp Sweater

ChagallI have a special sweater. It’s bulky, and fuzzy and keeps me warm on those really cold winter days. I marinate in this sweater. You might have something similar in your closet.

Back in the winter of 2005 I was starting my fledgling coaching practice. In anticipation of my great success, I took special, painstaking measures of creating a space I could work, innovate, grow and help the countless millions who would be knocking down my door for my services. Yes, I did that.

I painted the walls of my office yellow and hung lovely Chagall prints. They were magical. It was magical. Then…not so much. I worked, and worked and nothing much happened. At least, it didn’t measure up to my expectations. Go figure.Fuzzy Brown Sweater

All the while I donned my special sweater. Full of hope and vigor I spent hours upon hours forcing my “success.” Marketing, creating, forcing. My sweater got itchy, like a thick, decaying skin. Matted…stifling…Depplike. Yup. Remember that robe that Johnny wore in “The Secret Window?” Johnny wore the robe while he was losing his marbles. That robe was like my sweater’s brother. I got a little depressed, a little crazy, but unlike Turturro, I didn’t bury anyone in the backyard. I. Swear. I. Did. Not. All the same, the sweater became less than helpful.

johnny deppWhy am I telling you this? I’m not sure, but breathe easy because I still don’t have a shovel in my hand. I’m wearing my Johnny Depp sweater as I write this. I’m happy, and thriving and full of joy. Times have changed and so have I…the sweater? Its still pretty much the same.

What’s in your closet?

                                                                       Michelle

Sans Sweater
Sans Sweater

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 

The Art of Gratitude

Well, then. It’s November – my self designated “Month of Gratitude.” Most of us wait until that Thursday late in November to give thanks for our blessings and life’s sweet gifts. Last year, I began a personal tradition of finding one thing to be grateful for each day and posting it on my Facebook page. I invited my friends to share their thoughts and blessings as well.

It started innocently enough. What resulted was the cultivation of a new mindset. Each day I searched for the one precious item I could post. Was that the gift I would share? No! Wait! THAT is the blessing I should post. But, there was always more. I could only share one blessing per day, and no stone in my life was left unturned as I counted my blessings, large and small and savored their sweetness. By Thanksgiving, I was totally blissed out!

Truly, you don’t realize the magic, the goodness, the grace, until you begin to focus on it. Last November I “rewired” my thinking and had a fabulous month. So, I would like to invite you to play with me this month. “Stuff grows where intention flows” so hook into my Facebook page and share what you are thankful for each day. Cultivate the magic…it’s an art.

With Gratitude,

                                           ~ Michelle