I hope your answer is – ME! I don’t mean me…the coach, the artist, the advisor…I mean YOU! You probably aren’t comfortable advocating for yourself. Few of us are, but the truth is, you MUST be your own advocate, whether you’re a creative, a corporate person, a small business owner or a solo-preneur. No matter who you are, you owe it to yourself to be your own best advocate. It’s not a bloated ego thing. It’s a smart thing (click to Tweet).
They plant seeds of doubt in the fertile manure of your brain, and then carelessly leave them to germinate and grow weeds in your happy little garden.
I don’t like that. I hope I don’t trip up and plant the occasional weed, because it’s noxious.
Sometimes the evil seeds they plant are composted…er…composed entirely from their own faulty thinking or assumptions. Sometimes, it’s a thorny opinion that cuts and stings. Some weed farmers do it on PURPOSE. Yep, for some reason, they plant their dirty little seeds and even spritz a bit of water as they take leave. Continue reading “Weed Farmers”
Lessons come in all forms. I’m a big believer in lifelong learning and occasional breaks, so we can recharge. I believe we should pursue “continuing education” no matter what type of work we do. Here’s a repost from a time I spent at an art retreat – when I learned so much more than art. Since it’s “back to school” season, I figure this is worth a revisit.
Life 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: Continue reading “Lessons from the Classroom”
There are a few things that pack a wallop in your life – like this poem by Mary Oliver. Whether you’re in a deep, dark place and need a winch to pull you out, or you’re “breathing just a little and calling it a life,” this poem calls us to be true to ourselves, claim our lives and live it in our own skins…in our own way. Continue reading “A Life Saver”
I remember, years ago, asking my mother the benefit of getting older. I was sure there must be a big payoff for relinquishing 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.
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,
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,
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.
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Last weekend my public studio space was open for our local city art event. Lots of interesting people pass through…all great admirers of art…or at least admirers of the cheese, crackers and, let’s face it, probably the wine.
A quiet, young woman came through with her significant other. She silently viewed the studio. She saw a favourite poem I‘d posted on the wall and it sparked a conversation about the art and the poem. “I’m a poet,” she proudly declared. “Would you like to hear one of my poems?”
Heck yeah! She proceeded to blow me away with a poem about “Blue.” Then, she recited another and had me fully enthralled, under her spell. Her countenance changed as she “took her stage” and recited words that flowed like honey. How un-mistakenly beautiful to, once again, be in the presence of words that touched the soul with their raw honesty and stunning imagery.
There are old friends we sometimes forget. Friends like snorkeling, or poetry, or watercoloured landscapes. Friends like riding a bike, or skateboarding, or writing a poem, or breathing life into a treasured family recipe. Things we’ve left behind, for no certain reason, we’ve just moved on to other interests. Like most old friends, reuniting feels like you’ve never been apart.
Lately I’ve had a yearning to go out in the morning with my camera and take some nature shots. At this point, people who know me are likely to have me committed. I’m not a morning person. Sometimes you get up early for old friends (click to Tweet).
I remember writing poetry myself, years ago. I threw them away…never keeping them for later. Like my paintings, usually once it’s “out” I have no need or attachment for an ongoing relationship. My artworks – they’re all one just night stands (click to Tweet).
Where are your old friends? Who are they? Are they near? Do you hear them beckoning in that space between consciousness and dream time as you drift off to sleep? Maybe it’s time to consider a reunion.
Photograph of Ice Skates – Courtesy of Dianne Poinsky Photography. Find her at www.diannepoinski.com
If you are an artist who would like to have your work featured on my blog, please send me a quality image with a note of your permission. If it is selected for an appropriate topic, I’ll use your image and link it to the site of your choosing.
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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.
- 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).
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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(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 like 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).
I 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.
To New Beginnings!
Lately, 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.
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!
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 Facebook on Twitter
Mornings are a little chilly, leaves are twisting off trees and riding light autumn breezes. This is terrifying for me. (click to Tweet)
I’m not opposed to autumn…no, it is my 3rd favourite season. It’s the winter I abhor. I do not welcome its darkness, its dampness or its frosty pain. Keep your sleepy, naked, muddy winter. I’m not interested. Heck, we had to stick Christmas smack dab in the middle of winter just to rally the frozen troops. Boo for winter.
Ceremony Guru, Cindie Wilding, of Bird’s Nest Ceremonies, recently posted a chipper reminder that fall is on the way. She spoke of the equinox – which is this Sunday. She mentioned fall being a season of balance, reflection and change. Hmmmm…..
Hang on tight, or bail off this hayride, because I’m about to pull you into the madness of my stream of consciousness. This is how my mind works, and it is especially powerful at red traffic lights…so just be glad I’m not driving.
Seasons are like businesses. There is a natural ebb and flow to the cycle of a business. A time for planting, a time for growing, a time for harvesting and a time for rest and planning. If businesses fail to change and adapt – they die!
There is no fighting the seasons of the year. I can’t stop winter’s chilly forward march. It’s bondage, the “chains of change.” I don’t have a problem understanding business cycles, so why am I fighting Mother Nature?
Fortunately, if we are skilled, lucky, or both, business seasons move along faster than Mother Nature’s. If you’re fighting your business season, perhaps you’ve misunderstood how to leverage it. As business owners, we create business plans and activities around the seasons of our work. We strategize, prepare, fill the pipeline and sell. In short, we take advantage of the seasons.
Business seasons aren’t always as rhythmic as Mother Nature’s. For instance, you may find yourself in the midst of an autumn harvest without having done your winter planning. Or, if you’re stuck in a perpetual business “winter” chances are pretty good you need some professional help to nudge you on to the rest of “the year.” No worries, you don’t have to despair and lie down or die in the cold…there are good people who can help you. Reaping a thin harvest? Call the people who sell seeds, or fertilizer. Lots of people sell fertilizer, so buyer beware! (click to Tweet) If you’re thriving in an eternal business “summer” please write a book so the rest of us can prosper and spend an eternity in the sun.
Anyhou, we can’t expect our businesses to always function smoothly. That would be delusional.
So, I’ve decided to fully embrace autumn this year. As her troublesome cousin “Winter” follows on her heels, I may try welcoming her chilly embraces, too. Relating something I can’t control to something I understand and feel comfortable with takes the dread out of summer’s demise. She’ll be back, with her light and growth and song, because Mother Nature will do her job. Just like us business owners – leverage the seasons, follow the plan, watch the Almanac and we’ll be just fine.
A Big, Fat Harvest Moon to You!
Recently, a wonderful artist in my city completed a news worthy project, “1000 Bowls to Feed the Hungry.” This artist, Chris Thompson, threw over 1,000 pottery bowls and invited the art community to help glaze them. Lots of artists were involved in helping create these incredible bowls. Chris spent many months organizing the affair, promoting it, getting the bowls into local galleries. At the end of the day, proceeds from these 1,000 bowls went to fund 3 local food banks and multiplied each dollar spent to feed the hungry. It was a wonderful project.
First I attended Chris’ display of ALL of the bowls. Well, of course, I couldn’t walk out without a bowl. I chose a big, beautiful, earthy one. It wasn’t easy to choose, but it sure was easy to buy. There were so many unique and colourful designs and shapes. It was such a blast I thought everyone should have one so I promoted the event to friends.
My awesome friends bought bowls. They told me they hunted through galleries to find the perfect match. Some friends asked me to buy bowls for them. I happily obliged. I perused the local galleries, and carefully sought out bowls I felt befitting of the future owner. As I embarked on my mission, I couldn’t help but find additional bowls for myself. I became a collector! At the next to the last gallery, I selected a spirited little bowl, took my card to the counter and was told I had to pay in cash (audible gasp!). This was a full service art gallery….or so I thought. They asked me to go find an ATM, there was one about ¾ of a mile away, the man thought. Could I write a check? I’m sorry, I don’t even use checks, unless someone pays me with one. What??? They didn’t have the ability to run credit or debit cards. The man behind the counter didn’t seem the least bit bothered that he had boldly asked me to inconvenience myself. I could take it or leave it.
Notice, this was the NEXT TO THE LAST gallery. Because, why buy from a place that makes it so inconvenient to buy you wish you’d gone elsewhere?
Are you “easy to buy from”? Are you equipped to take various forms of payment? Have change? Ship well? Follow up? Will you take commissions? Do you send thank you notes?
Square and Paypal both provide easy credit processing options that work well with mobile devices like tablets and phones. Let your exchange be a seamless delight for your collectors. Wrap it up or ship it, provide a receipt, express some sincere gratitude and follow up. You’re success factor will get a boost because:
The first rule of selling is….”BE EASY TO BUY FROM!”
Just a little something to think about as many artists move into open studio and the holiday season and are working so hard to create incredible art. As you’re putting all that effort into the final product, remember, whether you intend for it to be or not, the customer experience is part of your product (click to Tweet). Don’t be a bold inconvenience, be easy. After all, you probably don’t want to be collecting your art for yourself!
Bowl ‘Em Over!
My 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.
I had long decided I would take care of them as they aged. They informed me there was no need.
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,
Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who teaches creatives business behaviours that boost their productivity and happiness…all the while honoring their unique and artsy selves. Follow her on Facebook on Twitter
You have it. That “stuff” you leave in your wake, the constant reminder there is unfinished business, loose ends, a mess, you’re not perfect.
Well, guess what? You’re not perfect. I like you that way. I like me that way, too. We are proof of the human condition (click to Tweet).
That clutter, though…it blocks the creative spirit. It clogs the flow of new ideas, prosperity, harmony. Clutter sucks. It comes in various forms. There’s the physical clutter…on your desk, your dresser, the kitchen counter. It’s unsightly and makes you feel….ick. Too much makes it hard to breathe.
Clutter also comes in the emotional form. The figurative toilet paper you drag around on your shoe. Worries you have about what you can’t control. An off handed, insensitive comment someone made. Comparison to other people, their work, their accomplishments, their opportunities, their opinions, their stuff. Their CLUTTER! Clutter envy…gawd! (Click to Tweet)
Gutter clutter. That’s right! In. Your. Gut. From the movie popcorn, late night ice cream, stress cheeseburgers. You know you do it…occasionally. You clutter your God given temple with junk…to make yourself feel better. To relieve the emotional clutter. And it stays. Fatty deposits on your thighs, hips, belly. You pollute your body the same way you do your office, your studio, your mind.
There are so many types of clutter. Concept clutter. Financial clutter (better known as debt). Obligatory clutter (say “no” much?). Clutter occurs when we fail to take care of OUR business as we should. We do not make it a priority to keep our lives, bodies, environment clean. Guilt is clutter…so, please, don’t feel guilty about this. You’ll just add to the clutter. And as cluttered as we are, we certainly don’t want to be, ahem, HORDERS!
The clutter is okay. We are human. We clutter, but we also organize. Ewwww, that’s a bad “O” word, isn’t it? But, for the pain organization causes, albeit temporarily, organizing also creates a freedom. A clarity. A knowing – especially a knowing of where we put stuff!
So, how to manage?
First, make sure you have the tools to do the job. It depends upon what you aim to declutter. You may need file folders. A therapist. A nutrionist. A coach (I am one). A personal trainer. A dumpster. So, decide what you’re cleaning up and get the right tools. Create a system. Identify a “Home” for your stuff, a home where you’ll be able to find it upon demand. Create a system you LIKE. This is important. If the system is too complex or laborious, you’ll avoid using it. Got it? Good!!!
Ready to get to work? If you’re a heavy clutterer, try one step at a time. It’s kind of like a 12-Step program for clutterers. If it’s easier for you, 15 minutes a day of decluttering. Start with the most obvious clutter. Seeing progress will be encouraging and you’ll gain momentum. If you’re bringing in reinforcements, like a professional organizer, a therapist, or a nutritionist, they can help you work this through.
If you’re the warrior type, you may choose to simply plow through the clutter. I tend to execute this way. Just take your medicine. It’s a bitter pill, but it CURES! (Click to Tweet). I find plowing easiest because the process is fast. I don’t linger over each “object” and its fate because I build some momentum, which drives the process. Put on some rockin’ tunes, put your head down, GO!
If you’d like a specific model for executing each piece of clutter, please click here. You’ll get a lovely, simple document that helps you keep it simple – just for joining the “Tribe.” As you touch each piece of clutter, you’ll have an automatic, pre-ordained answer.
As a general rule, if you haven’t used something for over a year, it’s junk. UNLESS IT’S TAX RELATED. Keep business documents in a banker box…you know…just in case. Label it with the year. Also, clutter that is not emotionally charged is easier to deal with. Address that stuff first. If you’re dealing with emotionally charged or “memory” clutter, the plow method works to build some rhythm. That way you won’t agonize over each object – at least not as much as you could.
Clean house! It feels good. It creates a path for new possibilities, mental clarity, abundance. It leaves you light and free. It creates a harmonious space for your to relax, enjoy life, employ audacious creativity.
Afterwards – Now, you have a system, please use it EVERYDAY to maintain your clutter free life. You may slip from time to time, and that’s okay. You’re human. But take care of your business – you deserve this! Embrace the urge to purge!!!
Keep it Tidy!
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Is angst the wellspring of creativity?
If you Google the word “wellspring” – this is the definition you find:
Wellspring – Noun
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.
And 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,
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 introspective, 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.
We 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,
Yes, 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.
In 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!