The Middle

(I’m on summer vacation! These posts are re-posts. I have discovered a need to re-fill my creative cup. Looking forward to bringing you new and improved posts in the fall. I hope you enjoy these selected writings! Search topics of interest on my site for more related articles.)

“Every giant redwood was once a seedling. They don’t get to skip that part.” –  Sue Fitzmaurice  (click to Tweet)

There’s a recurring theme lately. People are in transition. Life is full of cycles and we’re sometimes called upon to reinvent Life transitionourselves. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to growth, breathe life into our dreams, be a catalyst for positive change…but let’s face it….it’s more than terrifying to be a seedling.

You. Don’t. Get. To. Skip. That. Part.

Seedlings are itty bitty small in a big, big world. Seedlings get stepped on, drowned, and their tender little stems are pickings for things like…well…wild pigs. Seedlings are vulnerable. Not all seedlings make it but they try, because  the prospect of being a giant Sequoia is quite enticing. Sequoias are strong, long-lived and have a fabulous penthouse view.

I’ve had a fairly varied and interesting past. (Notice I did NOT say “colourful.”) Every decade has brought transitions – new places, new relationships and sometimes, new careers. Interestingly, what was learned from the old situations bolted onto the new transitions quite nicely, kind of like Legos. Just because we leave a job or relationship behind doesn’t mean the skills and knowledge we have aren’t transferrable – THEY ARE!

I will tell you a secret. Often, during transition, there is a long expanse of time that is the “uncomfortable middle.” (click to Tweet) It is not the creamy, fluffy, goodness. This is the place where you lack direction, uncertainty becomes a way of life, the answer or direction often does not reveal itself as quickly as our fast-food appetites would like. This is not a happy place, but a place of exploration, possibilities and change. It is an uncomfortable crevasse. It’s the very thing that can send you running and screaming back to the comfort…back to the known. To get past the middle you need a serious dose of courage. You have to trust the process, your God and your gut. Continue reading “The Middle”

Who’s Your Daddy?

Who’s your biggest advocate? Who champions your career, has your back, ferrets out opportunity that will benefit you?Advocate for yourself - create opportunity

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).

Continue reading “Who’s Your Daddy?”

Two Rabbits

Priorities

The saying is a Roman proverb, sometimes contributed to Confucious.

Recently, I felt like I was chasing more than two rabbits. The furry moppets refused to hang together and…well…I’m not as fast as I used to be. The constant changing of direction and gears seems to put a damper on my speed and hinder a razor-sharp focus.

So, sometimes it’s best to cut bait and walk away.

But, how do we make the decisions about which rabbits to chase and when to cut them loose? I guess it’s dependent upon our objectives and priorities. AND, do we even give consideration to such things? When it comes to priorities, do you spend time examining them, or just let the tail wag the rabbit-chasing dog? (click to Tweet)

When considering which rabbit to chase, I say if you’re supporting a family and need the income, that might be your first priority – the money – so you chase the biggest, fattest rabbit you can find. Continue reading “Two Rabbits”

You’re As Good As Goaled

GoalsMany 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. Continue reading “You’re As Good As Goaled”

Just One Thing

Just One Thing.

That’s not “just one MORE thing.”  It’s just one thing. That’s all you have to do to kick off marketing your art.One more thing

Last week I taught a great group of artists a workshop called “Marketing and Self-Promotion for Artists.” I offer an art business workshop each month through a local art venue. However, there’s a problem with marketing. The problem is there are so many ways to market, so many tried and true ways, that, if you’re a beginner, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Continue reading “Just One Thing”

Lessons from a One-Year Old

GratitudeToday is the First Birthday of “The Art of a Well Lived Life.” Time for a party! Bring in the clowns, the ponies and let us consume copious amounts of CAKE (preferably chocolate)!

Setting out to simply share some thoughts and be a solid resource for creatives by using my corporate chops, a year ago I committed to writing a weekly blog and publishing it – every Friday – for at least 12 months. Family and friends supported me. They safeguarded my already ruddy reputation by making sure I didn’t breach the line…much. I only want to sprinkle mischief dust; I don’t intend be hurtful (click to Tweet). As I said in the beginning, one of the things I love most about people is, when we are being genuine, we have interesting wrinkles and shortcomings…it makes us human and I am thankful, because those imperfections add perfect colour to our world.

My readers have responded to the shares. I’ve discovered an enormous sense of community through “The Art of the Well Lived Life.” I’ve had an opportunity to share my knowledge, and in turn, you all shared your wisdom. I’m grateful for your shares, your feedback, your words.  People have gotten naked with me in conversations – bared their souls, their pain, their hopes…I am humbled. 

I work for free, but should really be paying you, dear readers. Here are a few of the priceless lessons I’ve learned while penning “The Art of The Well Lived Life” –

    • People are kind
    • After over a decade of business writing, the writer I was born as has rediscovered her voice
    • I’ve written over 52 stand alone posts – a cohesive, though short, body of work
    • I possess self-discipline – I don’t need a boss – I’m the boss of my own, bad self
    • Older people have incredible stories, philosophies and wisdom to share – they are reluctant to share them on a blog , but they rock it in private groups
    • Creatives need a community – while we may work alone well by nature, we get lonely from time to time
    • Showing my own scars and faults has hopefully given us all “permission”
    • Everyone is insecure from time to time and in their own way – if they aren’t they’re probably a psychopath
    • Even people who rail against structure want structure – let’s just dress it up in lace and call it something else
    • Spellcheck cannot be overrated – evher
    • People love to have fun. They like to laugh and poke, but they want respect and reassurance – so I give them permission to laugh at me
    • WordPress is relatively user friendly
    • Our souls were designed to express our essential selves. When the outlet is blocked we react with negative behaviours and behave poorly (click to Tweet this one)

This is a deeply emotional birthday for me, like the ones that end in a 0 or 5. I’m actually crying as I write this, it must be hormones or a lack of chocolate. It also may harken back to  this first post.  Above all, I am awash with gratitude that you keep reading, keep commenting, keep laughing and sharing your wisdom and questions.  Thank you, thank you, thank you….

Make a wish…

Coaching

 

 

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

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Series-ous Directions

Having the vehicle and directions to get where you want to go is priceless.The Weaver's House

But, what happens when we’re in unfamiliar territory?

Recently, I came to a crossroad and didn’t have a map. No stinkin’ Garmin…no road signs. Nada. Sometimes, as we’re traveling the path of our natural, creative evolution, we get lost. It may be we follow our curiosity deep into the woods and can’t find the way out.  Perhaps the shiny eyes and voices in the night murmur, ”Come this way.” “Not that, this is better.” “Since you asked my opinion…” and we actually listen to them! It’s the way with the world today.

If we tried to pay strict attention to all the information that claims to be “useful” to us, we’d  be in an over-loaded, slack–jawed, dead–fish eyed, stupor.(Try Tweetin’ that!)

Enormous loads of information bombard our consciousness daily. In the confusion of looking for a map, we’re accosted at every proverbial street corner.  I don’t know about you, but I’m unwilling to have my art career carjacked by any ol’ yahoo waving an “Pistol Of Perspective” (click to Tweet).   Lots of people claim they can provide directions…but sometimes they send you down a treacherous alley, or a dead end street.

I was stopping to ask directions when I bumped into San Francisco Artist and Acrylic Diva, Tesia Blackburn. To my delight, not only was she familiar the terrain, she honored my free will to choose my own mode of transportation.

Her advice to me – choose one design element you’d like to study. Create 50 paintings. Do nothing else. Nothing else. Explore that element, get intimate with your subject. You’ll free your mind from other bothers and you’re bound to produce some very good paintings.

Huh?

It sounded so simple…yet time consuming. It smacked of….ahem….self-discipline. What’s a lost girl to do?  Rather than straying deeper into the woods, I sought civilization. I set out to explore my element in my new series titled “Villages.”

Promo for FB Villages WMWhy “Villages?” Because my abstract landscapes held my interested, but I needed a little bit more. I want to ensure I’d stay engaged during the learning process. I wanted to tell stories. Villages…small communities where people live their lives. Families. Characters. History. Epic tales. If you’re looking for direction, start a series, as Tesia Blackburn suggests. Here it is, from the horse’s mouth (sorry, Tesia).

Artist, Kesha Bruce has her own flavor of advice to begin a series. Kesha draws quickly and with abandon – in one sitting, 100 drawings, 3 minutes each. She swears it will take you out of your mind. Something original, fresh and exciting will evolve.

Kesha Bruce uses this technique to begin all her series. It’s a potent prescription to find direction or even discover new lands. Learn more here.

Not all who wander are lost, but if you are, or if you’re seeking new direction, try a series of paintings or drawings. You might discover new lands! I’ve found success. The journey has deepened my understanding, experience, confidence and my work is improving.

So trust yourself. Let your muse be your guide.

Take your art series-ously,

Coaching

 

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

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!

Habits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Habits
“Wave” 12×12 Oil By Jill Christian

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can I get an Amen?

Coaching

 

 

 

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

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

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

Writer, Artist, CoachFollow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

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

 

Make a Statement – Writing the Artist’s Statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Bail! Make a Statement!

Signaturef

 

 

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

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

 

The Nick of Time – Time Management Tips for Creatives

Time management
Time management
Tick Tock Your Life is Waiting

(This article was originally published in April, but with recent conversations, I think it may be a good time to reiterate the benefits of managing your time well.  ~ Enjoy)

“I could move mountains if it weren’t for “distractions.” (Click to Tweet) I mean, really, the shiny things get in the way, catch my eye and I’m gone.

It’s become more challenging since I’ve become a corporate refugee, because now I’m doing creative work and am accountable to only myself. We are all creative beings, no doubt, but once you give yourself permission to be fully creative, you lose some of the ability to focus on getting stuff done. I think this is partially due to the fact that creativity is fostered by exploration and play. (Click to Tweet)  The three go hand in hand in hand.

I’m sure the “shiny thing” gets you, too. And it snowballs. One distraction can lead to another and soon the sun is setting and you haven’t done anything even remotely productive. Urghh!

What to do?

It’s all about – ahem – time management. And self discipline. Ick. Doesn’t that sentence just make your hair stand on end? Feeling resistance yet? Think of it this way:

“Time is your asset. It’s the key to the kingdom.” (Click to Tweet)

You aren’t going to get more of it, so have the self-discipline to jealously guard the 24 hours you’ve got. Identify what gets in your way – and take steps to secure it. Here are some easy strategies:

Your “To Do List” is your GPS – Creating a “To Do” list may sound cliché, but it keeps you on course, guides you and tells you cheerfully, “You have arrived!” Use a list!

Control TV, Email and Social Media – Set designated times to check and respond to email and social media. For most of us, three times a day will work. Morning, noon, afternoon. Having your mobile device firmly tucked into your hip pocket and responding to its every chime? That chime – that’s the sound of your time being sucked into a big hole!

Schedule your Day – Schedule your day…but not ALL of it. Scheduling 60% of your day is realistic, because it allows room for life to happen and keeps you from turning into a shrew. Schedule the stuff you must do, and the stuff you want to do.  Workout time – schedule it! Creative prep – schedule it! Even schedule recreational time. Remember to schedule some time at the end of the day to prepare for the following day. You can create some balance in your life and still move the mountain if you schedule it!

Create systems – Take time to organize in a way YOU can understand. If you can’t find it, you spend time looking for it, so take time to put it in its place in the first place. Besides, just admit it, if you’re looking though stuff to find other stuff you get DISTRACTED with the new stuff you find. (yeah, I wrote that all by myself).

Get a Handle on Procrastination – We all do it. If you really want to, you can get a handle on it. It’s not rocket science…if it were I would procrastinate for sure. Find the root of the procrastination and ferret out the resources, gumption or whatever you need to move through it…one step at a time.

Make Yourself Accountable to Someone Else – Research shows if you write down your goals you’re more likely to achieve them. If you write them down, tell someone you respect about them and make a commitment to report back to that person, your success rate jumps to 95%!

I offer a free gift to those who sign up on my mailing list. This published article is a “How To” for overcoming procrastination. Just “Join the Tribe” at the left and I’ll send it to you, FREE. Tell your friends to sign up, too….don’t procrastinate!

I once heard , “If you’re not using your time to deliver your own package, others will use your time to deliver theirs.”(Click to Tweet)  At first this self discipline may look like shackles to you. This is not bondage. Manage your time well and you will get to spend more time doing what you love to do…perhaps even move a mountain or two.

The Clock is Ticking!

Signature

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their dreams by helping them Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessimprove productivity teaching them to get out of their own way.

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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.

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!

 

The Sweet Spot

Sweet spot that thing you doThere’s that thing you do. I don’t know what your “thing” is, but you know. It’s the work you are passionate about, that drives you, that makes you excited your eyes pop open in the morning. You know that thing? Maybe it’s painting or writing or coaching or golf or parenting…you get the idea. Your THING. When you’re doing your thing, there’s a sweet spot. Being in that sweet spot is why you do your thing (click to Tweet). You’re not always there, but when you are, it’s heaven. You’re on a roll.

Then there’s the rotten spot. The spot when your sweet has gone missing and you can’t find it…not even if you put an ad on the back of a milk carton. The more it creeps in, the worse it gets, the more you open the door, the more it shoves it’s big, hairy, stinky self through the opening. It gets in your head. It affects the quality of your “thing” and it’s a bugger to shake.

I wrote a blog titled, “It’s Not Always A Masterpiece.” This started a discussion about the sweet spot. So, what are you doing, what are the conditions when you’re hitting on all cylinders and enjoying the sweet spot? What can you observe that makes the planets align and the magic happen?

One of my painting groups offered a lot of insight into this question. The collective opinion of my arty friends is that children have a handle on the magic. They’re not attached to the outcome…they enjoy the process and stop when they’re done. It’s probably because children don’t have to pay for their own canvases. Children approach life with joyful abandon. They know there’s more of their “thing” where that came from. Children snack from the smorgasbord of life (click to Tweet).  Without adult criticism…er…direction, they don’t worry about achieving perfection. Kids do what feels good. Soon they’re moving on to the next interesting thing.

Think about that.

 So what pulls us out of our sweet spot? Do we try too hard? Do we overanalyze? Is it that critical voice in your head…the adult Low performancedirection? Do we work it into mud, past the point of joyfully creating and into the shameful, wet-earth of self-critical flogging? How can we stop?

 A supportive network that will offer feedback, and whose opinions you respect, is hugely helpful. Putting the work away for a period and looking at it later with a fresh eye can help. Don’t expect to always be at the pinnacle. The valleys of life lend perspective and make the view from the mountain clear and exhilarating (click to Tweet). Just relax. Be calm and just do art…oh, no…I didn’t just write that.

Another thing to keep in mind…I don’t want to be Al Bundy. I am eternally grateful I didn’t peak in high school. I hope I haven’t peaked yet. I want to keep finding holes to fill, new things to learn and opportunities to improve. I look forward to getting better as time goes on. The work I do now, when it misses the mark, well, that was just a dry run. The brilliance has yet to be seen. Keep that in mind. Considering your potential, if you were “done” what a disappointment it would be!

Getting familiar with the rotten spot doesn’t mean we’ll grow to like it. We don’t have to settle there and become compost. It’s simply an acknowledgement of its existence. It’s a compass. It helps us know when we are coursing off track so we can make adjustments to find our way back to the sweet spot.  The course correction is up to us. The corrections can be like a spiritual practice. Learning to just be. Learning to tap into that childlike wonder and not having expectations, while still maintaining standards.

If all else fails, you can always paint over it. In the words of some very accomplished artists…my best paintings are often over my worst paintings.

Live the Sweet Life,

Imperfection

 

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who teaches creatives business behaviours that boost their Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessproductivity and happiness…all the while honoring their unique and artsy selves.

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It’s Not Always a Masterpiece

https://michelleandresart.com/?p=967I paint. My husband plays golf. It’s not always a masterpiece and his round is not always par. As a matter of fact, he’s yet to shoot a sub-par round. And me…that masterpiece….well, never you mind.

I’d written another post for this week. I said, “This really sucks. I won’t publish it.” Then it occurred to me…this might just suck as well, cause it’s not always a masterpiece.

That doesn’t keep us from trying. That doesn’t thwart our practice, our passion, our optimism. It creates a bit of balance, actually.

  • The bad days make the good days more blissful. (click to Tweet)
  •  The faulty painting makes the masterpiece sweeter. (click to Tweet)
  •  The missed shots make the hole-in-one a celebratory, bankruptcy event at the 19th hole. (click to Tweet)
  •  The sucky post makes the blog post shorter…good for you, the reader.

And we keep plodding along. The gambler, the believer, the dreamer, the fool…oops, sorry. Ahem, the tenacious, the headstrong, the dedicated. We do it because we love the challenge, we love the process and sometimes, just sometimes, we love the outcome. Because, when it’s all said and done, who doesn’t value excellence?

So keep on, keepin’ on. It’s more important to keep your commitments, be true to your character and to stand in your own light than to be perfect every time… or perfect any time. Because, I for one, deeply appreciate the flaws, the imperfections, the crooked little tooth. “I love that you’re not perfect, because neither am I, and that is the field where we can meet and hold the hand of humanity.” (Click to Tweet) Not only do we forgive one another, we accept one another, we have to…because none of us are perfect.

So, there you have it. It ‘s not a masterpiece, but it’s something.

“There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen

Celebrate Life In All Its Imperfection and Cherish the Rarity of the Masterpiece,

Imperfection

 

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who teaches creatives business behaviours that boost their Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessproductivity and happiness…all the while honoring their unique and artsy selves. Follow her on Facebook on Twitter

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

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

 

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.♥

Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

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