Travel Light

It’s 2015.

A brand new start.

How many times can we begin again? The possibilities seem endless. But, even with the permission to begin anew, some of us feel the anguish of past mistakes, regrets for what we may have (or may have not) done,  or are blistered with disappointment as we take stock of our lives.

I understand the need to reflect on our pasts. Reflection is okay, but I recently saw this:

Identity, new year, light
Image courtesy of www.mooreminutes.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it’s sage advice. And, don’t go flogging yourself with the “social measuring stick” either. Your path is uniquely yours, holding the mystery and gifts that are close to your heart. Just because you may not know your purpose, or recognize your gifts, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. How will you find them when you’re carrying more bags than The Beverly Hillbillies?

Continue reading “Travel Light”

Dream Catchers

Dream catchers.

dream ideas
THE RIDER
Bronze, Patina and Native Wood
21″ x 63″ x 5.25″, 2014
By Holly Wilson

They’re those lovely, circular, Native American mandalas with the woven centers.

Legend has it they catch your dreams. Folklore tells us, they filter the content and only the good dreams are delivered to the dreamer. Good dreams slip through the hole in the center of the circle and slide down the feathers to be effortlessly deposited in the dreamer’s head. Bad dreams get caught in the webbing…ceasing to exist. Finito.

I suspect I need a dream catcher without the holes. My dream catcher might need to look more like…well…a drum. My dreams, also known as ideas, often, slip through, surfing the wisps of air…lost in the breeze. They are never seen or heard from again. Perhaps I could find my dreams on a milk carton. I should look there. (click to Tweet) Continue reading “Dream Catchers”

Walking the Tightrope

Ritual and Routine

 

When you work on your own, it’s easy to get into an unproductive rut. The demands of everyday life can pull you off track. Soon, you find, you’re taxiing kids, doing the laundry or waiting for repair people. Did you get into the studio? Nope. Take care of that upcoming marketing piece for your event? Nope. Did you write your newsletter? Heck, nope…and that’s not all. It’s not that you’re not “working,” it’s just you aren’t working on your stuff. Your life has become a circus!!!

“If you don’t spend your time delivering your own package, other people will use your time to deliver theirs.” (click to Tweet)

This kind of “off-tracking” and generosity may feel like flexibility to you, but what it really does is zap your productivity. What’s more, it can suck every bit of creativity out of you. Schwwwwooooopppp!

   

So, how do you develop a healthy routine that boosts production and allows creativity to thrive? Can your free-spirited self ever be happy with the bridle of routine? You might think it feels, well…constricting.

It’s unrealistic to expect our days will be spent doing only the things we love to do. Ooooh, did I sound like your mother?  Sorry!  Sure, the bulk of your work should be something you’re passionate about, but realistically, we all have parts of our work we don’t thoroughly enjoy. If we want to sip the sweet nectar of success, we have to drink the bitter medicine, too.

The key is to create some balance. If we only do the tasks we enjoy and put off the others, we run into a big pile of procrastination. Life can be like the bigtop, so here are some tips to get a foothold on that tightrope, and create some happy, predictable fun and routine in your days.

Start with a Solid Program – When creating ritual and routine think of the things you enjoy…what are you passionate about? This is your foundation for the day’s journey. Make sure your passions are really your own…unique to you.

Artfully Schedule the Acts – Identify your peak production hours. Schedule hard hitting stuff for the times you’re most energized. For example, if you’re a morning person, do your heavy lifting in the morning. If you are energized after lunch, schedule demanding tasks in the afternoon. Schedule your days with the activities you most enjoy in strategic time slots to kick off the day. Keep momentum by scheduling some “duties” that don’t squeal your wheels, but need to be done anyway, in between the times you’re doing the fun stuff. Need some time management tips?

Sweeten the Deal Think of it like cotton candy. If you’re doing a task you don’t enjoy, sweeten the deal by playing music you love, or performing the task in an enjoyable spot. For example, go out to the garden with your laptop to create marketing material, or play your favourite artist during your clean up phase in the studio. Sip a favourite beverage while doing your books. It works!

Be the Ringmaster – Of course, you have an audacious “To Do” list! You also have a calendar. Use them both. Schedule 60% of your time and leave 40% free for life to happen. But when you schedule it, make sure you honor your commitments to yourself and do what’s on your calendar. It’s important to schedule time in the day to take a break and recharge. This is essential to your creative flow. You can find some tips here.

Hold Regular Dress Rehearsals  – Spend time on the tightrope every day. Repeat the ritual and routine. Keep it predictable…well, as predictable as possible. Let those around you know the road you’re traveling, so you can reclaim your time for yourself and decline their requests until you’re free. If you get up everyday and repeat the same positive behaviours, you can’t help but increase your productivity and creativity. You’ll be flying through the air with the greatest of ease.

By consciously filling your days with both things you love and activities you MUST do, and being committed to the schedule, you create ritual and routine. Inform others of your plan and schedule their time separately…then they can’t clown with your calendar. Be committed to your own success by claiming your own time and stepping into the spotlight. Be the star of your own act.

Take a Bow,

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

Writer, Artist, CoachFollow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

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

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!

Open Studio? Do Some Work to Make it Work!

Voyeur and art enthusiast that I am, I’ve always enjoyed open studio tours. This past weekend, I open studio tour stahosted my first one and, of course, I wanted it to be a success. I tried to keep an open mind when planning the event and think of some creative ways to produce good results. Since I’m a business consultant and an occasional party hostess, I applied that know-how to my event. I felt it went quite well, so I’ll share some tips as well as areas I’ll focus on improving next time.

Sign up early  – Read EVERYTHING the hosting organization sends you.  Our open studio tour was curated through CCAS – Center for Contemporary Arts, Sacramento. This organization is great with branding, marketing and creating reasonable and detailed guidelines for their artists. They had over 130 artists participate in the tours over 2 consecutive weekends. Since I was a newbie, I fell into line, read the communications and followed their wise guidelines. Sir, YES, SIR!

Work with other artists in your vicinity – I realized my studio is not in a high traffic area. To put it bluntly, I’m an outlier. To make the effort worthwhile, I contacted a group of artists nearby and suggested we meet to coordinate our marketing and PR efforts. This was an important step that led to increased success for all of us. The team members all had different strengths, we leveraged those and our efforts paid off with more traffic and sales. Everyone  I worked with was incredible. I made new friends!

Write a press release – Submit it to community calendars of publications in your area and submit it to local papers. We were fortunate to have photos of our work and our artist statements published in a local paper.

Provide written materials to the public before and at your opening – CCAS provides lovely, professional guides with maps for artists to distribute. Many artists aren’t natural marketers, but passing out these guides, postcards and other professionally done materials raises community awareness. Local merchants were happy to help. Send “Save the Date” cards. Be sure to include dates, times and maps. Notice, I keep bolding the word maps. Maps. Maps. Maps.

Use social media to promote your event – Broadcast the event through social media channels. Don’t drive people crazy…but mention it early and send a few consecutive reminders as the event date approaches. It’s your event, so naturally, it’s a big deal to you…other people may be more apt to forget, so gently remind them. Also take advantage of e-mail by sending your subscriber list an early announcement and a couple reminders as the date approaches. You may also use regular mail for your personal postcards that include, you got it, maps

prepare materialsPrepare the materials you will be offering for sale – For original works, don’t wait until the event is imminent to begin creating, you don’t need the stress! Need some time management tips? If you “Join the Tribe” by signing up for updates on my sidebar, that advice is this month’s free gift! Give yourself plenty of lead time to get giclees, prints, greeting cards, business cards and other materials printed and organized. Allow plenty of time if you decide to have your work professionally photographed. Make sure product quality is good. Your reputation is on the line.

Offer multiple price points –  Don’t be disappointed if people don’t buy original work. Offer items at various price points to suit everyone’s budget. Greeting cards, totes and other items featuring images of your favourite works, giclee prints and original art in various sizes are good options. Offer something for everyone.

Be easy to buy from – Make the purchasing process seamless. For more on this check here. Make sure you have change, receipt pads and Square or Paypal processing ready to go so you can handle debit and credit cards! Keep it organized. It’s a good idea to take inventory before and after the event or use your gallery management software.

Clean your space! – Don’t open the doors and invite people in to your disarray! That is RUDE! Stage your work and make your Clean space for open studiostudio presentable. Offer a demonstration so you can teach people something new. For my opening I had a hands-on project inviting people to nip and place  mosaic tile. I teach workshops in beginning mosaics, so participants were able to determine their level of interest and join a sign up sheet!

Know who’s coming – Have a registry available and encourage visitors to sign it. It’s a good idea to find out why they stopped by. How did they hear about you? Knowing what brought you visitors helps you plan a strategy for getting even more next time.

SIGNAGE, SIGNAGE, SIGNAGE! – Have signage that clearly directs people to the studio. Start at main arteries and work your way in to your location. You want to be easy to find.

Warm it up – Provide simple, yummy refreshments and consider putting them toward the end of the trail so all your work will be viewed. Let people know they are there. Play appropriate music, greet people warmly. Be available to answer questions or tell the background story of your work. It’s a good idea to have a wingman in case you get crazy busy. This person can greet guests, answer simple questions, process sales or help get additional items you may need. My husband is my wingman and he is awesome. Sweetheart, if you’re reading, you’re awesome!

Take photographs – Chronicle the event. This was a fail-point for me. I didn’t take enough pictures of the activity, although I had photos of the work, the space and some great photos with visitors.

Express gratitude – Thank people for stopping by. Send thank you notes to your collectors after the event. Be grateful for every visitor that stopped by, whether they stayed and purchased work or not. They took THEIR time to see YOUR work. Grateful. 

Evaluate – After the event remember the steps you took. Do you feel successful? What could you have done to improve traffic, sales or the customer experience? Make notes and remember, be patient. It takes time to build a clientele. Next time is another opportunity to do it even better!

I hope my tips are helpful to you. If there’s an activity you do that produces good results, feel free to share it with us in a blog comment.

May you be creative in all endeavors!

irritation

 

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 teaching them to get out of their own way.

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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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Filling the Solo Cup

working alone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Full and Proceed to Party!

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

             Follow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

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

 

Care and Feeding of the Muse – Aspirations of Inspiration

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

GOOD FOR YOU! 

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

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

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

Inspiration graphic

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

BE INSPIRED!!!

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

 

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The Urge to Purge

Clutter 2Clutter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, how to manage?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep it Tidy!

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

Find her on Facebook or Twitter

Look ! You got to the END of the blogpost. Congratulations to you!  It’s kind of like those out-takes at the movies after the credits roll. So SPECIAL FOR YOU – A 10% discount on all July Coaching Packages – use promo code – MOliver

 

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.♥

Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 

Give Yourself a Break

retreat2Life can get going pretty fast. It’s easy to fall into a pattern, partake in the same old activities, see the same people each day and do the same old thing. Some people call it the “Grind.” Well, you may be stuck in the grind, or you may be enjoying the way things are…no matter, you could probably use a break.

Retreats are a nice way of taking a break. I recently took one and found it was not only good for my head, but my soul benefited as well. Here’s what I took away from a break in routine:

S-t-r-e-t-c-h – I learned some new stuff. I didn’t enjoy every, single minute because I was seriously pushed out of my comfort zone, but I did learn a lot of useful, innovative information, gained mastery of some new techniques and had a chance to adjust my line of thinking about this “stretch,” so it was well worth a couple awkward moments.

Pull back the curtain – I had some time to be introspective. In those “awkward moments” I quickly realized the only one paying attention to me was, well, ME. Hmmmm…. Why was it a big deal to me, and no one else seemed to care? Something to learn there…code phrase…”room to grow”. So, I learned some new behaviours and had an opportunity to choose a positive attitude.

Find kindred spirits – I made new friends. I met nice, accomplished, curious souls. Because it was a topic I was interested in, I met people with like interests, similar stories and several who were quite inspirational. I’ll keep in touch with some of these folks, so I’m building relationships with some really awesome people!

Bounce with the big yellow ball – I woke up more easily. For the time I was attending the retreat I sprung out of bed with Perfect daymore gusto than usual. Let’s face it, I’m not a morning person (Click to Tweet). When I woke up at 5:30 am and didn’t want to crawl back under the blankets I knew some serious voodoo was up. I was crazy, super excited about what the day would bring,

Beef up your bag of tricks – I now have a few more tools for my bag of tricks. Whether I use them directly, or indirectly, it doesn’t really matter, I have them and will make use of them somehow. My head is bursting with new ideas. I tested my boundaries and survived. Not only that…I thrived!

Cultivate confidence – with new experiences and new skills, I got out of my comfort zone and now it IS my comfort zone (Click to Tweet).  One of my original goals going into my workshop was to build confidence in the topic – yay – done! I AM INSPIRED!!!

Restore, rejuvenate and rest. Comparing notes, it’s safe to say every night the 20 of us fell into bed exhausted. Yep, we  “left it all on the field” every, single day AND IT WAS EXHILARATING! The learning, working, laughing and fun curve was astronomic…so we all went home exhausted with smiles on our faces. Not many things will offer you that result! (Well, there are a few, but this is a PG rated blog)

Given the benefits above, I think it’s safe to say we could all use the occasional break. Vacations are great, but something that really challenges our comfort levels, inspires new behaviours and provides a safe environment to explore is beneficial to our well being. It makes us EXCITED about moving forward. Do yourself a favour, and give yourself a break!

Cheers to a Well Lived Life!

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

Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 

Creating a Whole

I remember as a child, shutting life away and creating stories and poetry. I’d spend hours upon hours in my bedroom…writing.canopy-toddler-bed What a delight to be in my perfect world, enjoying myself, creating (click to Tweet). There was a constant narrative running in my head. As I observed life, I would dialogue what I saw mentally in “story form.” It was a sweet and innocent time.

I grew up in a creative household. My mother would paint, sew and decorate cakes. One year she and her friend made hundreds of sugar peek-eggs and sold them for Easter. They made enough money to appoint my writing room (my bedroom) with beautiful furniture. I would sit on the canopy bed and write stories and poetry.

As I grew I was encouraged by my parents and teachers to cultivate my passion. I enrolled in college and majored in journalism.

ENTER THE BOY

I worked at the local paper writing feature articles. It was an exciting time, exploring new fronts, always with a photographer in tow.  I was consumed. Then, it dawned on me. I had a boyfriend and things were getting serious. If I kept indulging myself this way, I would probably never marry and have a family.  I was living my life with such zest it left little room for another. I “unselfishly” decided to put the kibosh on this writing. It obviously would get in the way of my life.

…DONE…

Workers fightFor the next 25 years my creativity was expressed in minimal and “socially acceptable” (at least in my mind) ways. I’d find business solutions, coach clients to problem solve, create budgets and write kick-ass business letters.  Painting and poems were for soft, self-indulgent types.

ANGER

So naturally, I was pissed off at the soft, self-indulgents; the selfish artists, writers and people who lived with such abandon and joy.  I made judgments about them and did not take them seriously. Couldn’t they see there was REAL work to be done? Come on, people, pull your weight! The rest of us are making sacrifices…you’re entirely too preoccupied with pleasing yourselves! (Click to Tweet).

REALIZATION

CIMG412325 years after I severed a crucial part of my soul through denying my passion, the boy was gone. All that remained was the resentment for artists and an emptiness of purpose. I found relief by breaking things and putting them together – creating beauty from ruin. Some call this mosaic art. I fell in love with the process, the medium, the result. This progressed and one day someone referred to me as an “artist.” At first, it was an uncomfortable feeling. Was I really one of those self-pleasing, self-indulgent types…not suffering enough to make a real contribution to society? It didn’t matter. I realized I had this one life to live and the urge, the need to create, trumped any name calling. Besides, art IS a real contribution to society. It binds cultures, creates beauty and brings JOY to the lives of those who partake (Click to Tweet). I began to paint, to write, to play. The fountain of creativity poured forth, having been “damned” for years…and it spilled into all areas of my life, showing itself though joyful living and a deep appreciation for beauty in nature, in life, in people. I was whole again.  The anger, the resentment fell away.

Recently, I watched Oprah interview Brene Brown, a researcher of shame and vulnerability. Brown said one key to living wholeheartedly was to cultivate creativity. How many of us amputate our creative selves to make those “meaningful contributions to society” and are fueled by discomfort, sweat and resentment?  How many of us deny our natural purpose – to create – and settle on becoming  “acceptable?” Brene Brown says:

“Unused creativity is not benign. It turns into grief, rage, sorrow.”

She says creativity gets shamed out of us. Do we do that to our children? I did it to myself and was so bitter I could have shamed it out of my children…fortunately, I didn’t. One of Brown’s main points:

“The only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born of our creativity.” (Click to Tweet)

These days I work with creative types, mostly women, but some men, too. I love leading and teaching mosaic workshops where people can get away from their day to day demands and tap into that creative purpose we all have. It is healthy, it is necessary and it makes us whole again.

Live Authentically!  Live Joyfully!

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For more of Brene Brown I recommend “The Gifts of Imperfection” Let go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreaming in Colour

            My best dreams are in colour. Painting blog pic
They last all night and segue from one luscious hue to the next…blending…running…shining through my mind. Texture is sometimes involved, but not always.

Last night, my sweet art teacher showed her face over and over in my slumber. I’m not stalking her, not really. Her work is just so beautiful…and it moves me. I’m AWESTRUCK. And in my sleep, my normally struggling creations are just like her beautiful, effortless ones.

Before I drifted off, I was looking at her work and set the tone for my blissful night. Colour, form, design. An incredible palette of paint running into itself. Her words, “Don’t just push the paint around…think.” In my dreams the colours never turn to mud. In my dreams it’s all beautiful, joyful and incredibly fulfilling.

By PatLambrecht-Hould
By Pat
Lambrecht-Hould

I used to have similar “all nighters” at a job I worked in the corporate world. I’d prepare in my sleep. Check and double check lists. Make sure all the documents were accessible. It seemed I was always perched on the precipice of panic.

I. Like. Art. Dreams. Much. Better.

What are you rehearsing? What are you poised to create? How are you practicing when you’re awake? Whatever your dreams, I hope they’re in colour, I hope they’re joyful and I hope they soon come true.

Sweet Dreams….

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A special thank you to Pat Lambrecht-Hould for graciously giving permission to use her artwork in this post! – Thanks, Pat!!!

Coaching pic  - Version 3Michelle 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 onFacebook

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 

Life Imitates Art

Welcome to my blog – Life Imitates Art.

Oscar Wilde wrote in his essay The Decay of Lying:

“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.”

It’s an interesting perspective and a stimulating argument.

I find parallels in life, work, art and human nature. It has always interested me. I often find it hilarious, peculiar or amusing. We can share some thoughts on that here. Here is a space we can discuss art stuff, girl stuff, fun stuff and hard stuff.

Please join me by signing up to follow my blog at at the button in the black part at the bottom of the page. I promise not to share your name or drive you crazy with excessive posts…I try to only share when there’s something to say (but to be honest, I often have something to say!).

So join the list and let’s create a community where we can share, be authentic, appreciate beauty and honor our own creativity.

BE INSPIRED!!!

~Michelle