It’s Going to Be a Great Day!

This is not the real delivery guy
(This is not the real delivery guy)

It’s going to be a great day.

That’s what it said on the top of the delivery sheet.

A handsome, young man who was expecting the worst…you could tell.

He told me he had to remind himself. His mantra was on the top of every work order for every day…because, “One bad customer can ruin your whole day.” He had 20 deliveries the day he saw me, and he was all business. From my corporate experience, I suspect he was on some kind of PIP – performance improvement plan. Maybe people had complained and he was REQUIRED to write it at the top of each work order. It’s an educated guess, informed by the fact he told me, “Honestly, I should’ve refused this delivery, so they could send a smaller truck,” as soon as he arrived.

Not a good way to win friends and influence people. Continue reading “It’s Going to Be a Great Day!”

Weed Farmers

Insecurity and DoubtSome people are just weed farmers.

They plant seeds of doubt in the fertile manure of your brain, and then carelessly leave them to germinate and grow weeds in your happy little garden.

I don’t like that. I hope I don’t trip up and plant the occasional weed, because it’s noxious.

Sometimes the evil seeds they plant are composted…er…composed entirely from their own faulty thinking or assumptions. Sometimes, it’s a thorny opinion that cuts and stings. Some weed farmers do it on  PURPOSE. Yep, for some reason, they plant their dirty little seeds and even spritz a bit of water as they take leave. Continue reading “Weed Farmers”

8 Operating Procedures for a Well-Lived Life

I’m  not an expert at accessing joy. I’ve tripped into the well-lived life, for sure. I remember a few stumbles I’ve taken Life Manualalong the way, that made the trip more joyful, more meaningful, more full…but I’m well aware I have a long way to go. Basically, I’m half-baked.

I awoke Thanksgiving morning with a realization in my heart.

Life is hard for some people.

It’s just difficult. I am grateful I’ve found my way through…and grateful for the hardships I’ve endured that lent some perspective and, basically, gave me operating instructions for how to do life differently.

Still, my heart is sad for those in a place where they have no, or little, access to light and joy. I know it’s a journey they must take for themselves and they have to find their own road map….but I wish I could help every single one of them. Continue reading “8 Operating Procedures for a Well-Lived Life”

Illuminate Your Fear

Donald Neale Walsch said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Several years ago, I began a quest with a pledge of fearless“fearlessness.”  When I segued from the corporate world to work full time as a writer and artist, I made a pledge to do my work courageously and without care for what people might think of me. It’s easy to be fearless when you feel you have nothing to lose. (click to Tweet).

Next month I have an event and am fraught with insecurity and doubt. This is the polar opposite of fearlessness. I’m not sure when I decided I have “something to lose” because clearly, you all know, I’m out of my mind and might as well put it all out there – there IS nothing to lose. Today a friend gave me encouragement to move forward fearlessly, and that’s when I realized I had, once again, breached my pledge to myself. Continue reading “Illuminate Your Fear”

Hangin’ With the Herd and Drinkin’ With Baboons – Again

A little repost from July 2013 – I believe you’ll still find it relevant. 

“I never really have fit in” – I hear people say that all the time. “I was different. I was the black sheep,” they’ll say. After listening for some time, I realize…they wouldn’t trade belonging if it meant changing who they are.  I respect that.

Blessed are those who have discovered their herd (click to Tweet).

diversity, tribe

I went to a Techie meeting this week. During the networking portion the attendees all had their noses in their notebooks.

Very. Little. Interaction.

I watched as they came and went. They didn’t look like my herd.  I was a gazelle in a room of antelope. Continue reading “Hangin’ With the Herd and Drinkin’ With Baboons – Again”

20/20 is Hindsight

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

Nada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For my age:

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

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

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

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

 Choose to be farsighted,

Coaching

 

 

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

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!

 

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,

Signature

 

 

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!

Priming the Pump

Creative Inspiration PumpIt can take a while to prime the pump. Inspiration flows, but not as reliably as the city water district. We can’t count on it to make our artistic endeavors more palatable. Other times creativity flows as if a dam burst. We don’t have a big enough bucket to capture it all and some of its precious droplets sadly slip through our fingers. If we’re blessed, we find ourselves in a steady flow and creative inspiration trickles in like a pristine, mountain stream…and we drink, and we drink, and we drink. Drunk with creative inspiration. It’s a giddy condition and you never get hungover (click to Tweet).

I’ve advised plenty of coaching clients, “If you’re thirsty, don’t go to the empty well.” That’s a metaphor…but duh! We often seek answers in places we already know will offer no solution. Why do human beings do that? Stupidly hopeful or arrogantly believing  we can force others to change? It doesn’t work. If you’re thirsty, go to the water.

I just spent 3 days in drought-torn Northern California (really, that is not a metaphor) with 9 extraordinary people. Some were professional artists and some didn’t realize they are artists, but we all are, you know? They gathered from many corners to find themselves, prospect a bit of inspiration and learn how to take broken mosaic pieces and create a whole piece of beautiful inspiration. It was my “Making Magic in 2014 – Beginning Mosaic Workshop.” And as always, being the teacher, I learned so much.

Creative Inspiration
Mosaic Courtesy of
Gwen Day

The first day we primed the pump. We gave ourselves plenty of time and prompts to “think” about things. We thought about ourselves, our futures, messages, design, colour and space. We took full advantage of a “creative pause,” because those who believe they work best under pressure are…I believe…often crushed with pressure and, like a diamond, they have to be dug out before they can shine. 

By the middle of the second day, students were eyeballs deep into the creative process. The only doubts were about the technical aspects of their work. They were clear on the message that inspired them.

The question is this…

How do you handle inspiration? Do you honor the creative pause before you get started? Do you wait for the cosmic 2×4 to whack you upside the head? What happens when your once fertile, creative soil begins to fracture and desiccate? Do you stop, assume the fetal position and cry? Or, do you courageously push forward knowing eventually your thirst will be slaked? Do you get depressed and binge on Oreos, watching mindless television? Are you my beloved reader who hasn’t picked up the brush in 2 years? Afraid? Don’t flog yourself! You have the power to fix it!

If you find yourself in a creative drought, you might catch a couple rain showers here. If you’re drinking inspiration from a fire hose, get a journal and record your ideas and give thanks and praise for the abundance! Create a little space each day for your muse. Treat her kindly and she will reciprocate. (click to Tweet)

Feel free to share ways you pursue the hunt for creativity here, in the comments, you predator, you. Or, if you’re starving, ask for help. That’s what communities are for. May it rain on your plain regularly!

Stay Thirsty, My Friends! (but not too thirsty)

Coaching

 

 

 

Mosaic piece by Gwen Day – who fought through a migraine headache to complete it. Find her at  www.gwenday.ca

If you are an artist who would like to have your work featured on my blog, please send me a quality image with a note of your permission.  If it is selected for an appropriate topic, I’ll use your image and link it to the site of your choosing.

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves her clients in the direction of their dreams by Writer, Artist, Coachhelping them improve productivity and cultivate productive behaviours.

  Follow her on  Facebook on Twitter

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Rearranging the Room in Your Head

When I call this a “Confessional Blog” I’m not fooling around. This week I’ll share a recent experience and give you a tour inside my head; some insight into how my brain works.

You. Should. Brace. Yourself.

Sometimes I free up space in my head and go all conceptual, philosophical ninja on my defenseless self (click to Tweet). I do this without medicinal aids or the use of any hallucinogenics. That’s right, it’s all natural – like the Whole Foods of psychosis. I might be going out on a limb today, but hey, falling is a chance I’ll take. Remember, I vowed to live as fearlessly as possible. Here’s the story…

Following my breath into my yoga practice yesterday morning a strange thought came to me. Suddenly, I imagined I was not little Free from Doubtme, rather, I was Elizabeth Gilbert. You know, the best-selling author of  “Eat, Pray, Love” and her newest release “The Signature of All Things.” I’ve read Gilbert’s interviews. She’s a thoughtful, kind, down to earth human being. Yesterday, Gilbert herself planted her butt on my yoga mat; she took up rent in my cranium.  How did it feel?

Different

So, I began a little experiment. I was Georgia O’Keeffe. I was John Mayer. I embodied  Helen Frankenthaler and Hemingway.  For the record, Hemingway’s balance and flexibility suck wind. With each writer, artist or musician I noticed a subtle change in my body. It differed depending upon the person. It was always different than “I” feel in “my” body. Experiencing each of these people had one feeling in common.

It was…liberating.

I don’t know about you, but when I see people who are revered in their fields I make a big assumption. I assume the doubts, self-consciousness and challenges that go along with striving for that status have long fallen away for them. I assume they’re simply solid in their craft and their souls are free to pursue the world sans doubt. Surely they wake up swinging life by the tail! This freedom allows them to pursue and enjoy doing their best work. Their gifts are free to flow. Unfettered.

To be humble, I have a few…well at least one…well-honed skill(s). When I reflect upon my own experience of using these skills, I realize this “lack of doubt” may not be true of  ALL accomplished people. Perhaps some of them still struggle with insecurity, but surely some must have broken free of the bonds. How would life be different if we each stepped into that space? Not a place of arrogance or haughtiness – instead, a place where the voice of doubt is hushed, quieted.  A space where confidence is given permission to take the “mountain pose.” What would happen then? (click to Tweet)

Freedom from DoubtHow would I be different if I weren’t wondering if I’d ever “do it well enough?”

What if I quietly, internally, accepted I already “did do it well enough?”

How would YOU be different if you stepped into that space?

I had a discussion with a brilliant man about this. I have to say that… he’s reading this. He wondered if the doubt fell away, would the drive and fire be diminished? I encourage you to go deeper. The drive and fire are still alive, only doubt and self-consciousness are diminished. How would you feel? Stop. How. Would. You. Feel?

God has given each of us our own unique gifts. It’s criminal not to unleash them…practice them…share them with the world. Isn’t that why we’re here? It’s not in our benefit to play small, although our fears find gleeful satisfaction in keeping us tiny. It is not our responsibility to feed them.

I’m sorry you’ve read this far (you are still reading, aren’t you?) and I’ve offered no answers. My purpose, I suppose, is to start the conversation. Would you entertain the thought of how this freedom might change your life, your work, your relationships? No one is asking you to change who you are, only to consider rearranging the space in which your spirit resides (click to Tweet).

I look forward to your thoughts.

Please, don’t institutionalize me,

Coaching

 

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

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

 

Ready for some creative fun while pursuing your dreams for the new year? I’ll be having a Beginning Mosaic Workshop called ” Magic in 2014″ in January. Register or  learn more!

Sniff

productivity

I don’t read fiction.

I’ve always considered it unproductive. I guess, in a way,  I’m a commitmentphobe.  A story must be finished to learn what “happens.”  If I stop short, I waste time. What if I don’t like the read? If I read a non-fiction book I can walk away at any time and take with me the knowledge that’s been shared. There are no “sunk costs” with non-fiction.  Fiction has sunk costs. (click to Tweet)

If I start something I finish it.

I don’t so much stop and smell roses along the way, though I won’t judge you for sniffin’ the perfume and may even advise you to do it. But me, I just plow right though. Finish it. Move on. NEXT!

I don’t sit and chill.

You guessed it. A colossal waste of time (for me). You can chill though, I know it’s good for some folks, but chillin’, for me, requires being still – and I can’t be still for too long. If my body isn’t moving, my mind likes to be doing the cartwheels.

If I do it right, I bleed.

Yes, that’s the litmus test. Catholic upbringing and work ethic have taught me that I have to go the extra mile. I have to leave a little blood on whatever I do – figuratively speaking, of course.  It should hurt to be “good.” Hey, I know it’s a fallacy and don’t call it “perfectionism” because you know how I adore imperfection. I know it’s not true, but it’s in me…in the quick…so I partake in the regular bloodletting. Feels good. (click to Tweet)

Enter Raging Rhinitis

My husband shares everything, including his wicked common cold. Last week, that thug, “Rhinitis” rolled me and stole all my goods. (click to Tweet)

 I. Got. Mugged.  

I spent the historical equivalent of 3 days down for the count. Once I acquiesced, I decided in my typical fashion, to leverage the time I had left. I set up shop by the hearth and went to work relaxing (yeah, I realize the irony in that sentence). Here’s what I found most healing:

  • A good book
  • A gentle fire
  • Tea
  • Several lengthy, mouth-breathing naps – sequential or gently spaced – didn’t matter
  • Not writing
  • Not painting
  • Not making the bed
  • Not doing much of anything
  • Snuggling with a cuddly blankie
  • Chicken soup (made for me with loving care, thankfully)
  • Hangin’ with my hounds
  • Allowing myself to be taken care of by others
  • Proper drugs
  • Chocolate

On the 3rd day I probably could have risen, but hey, I’m not that Guy. Truly, I was able to leave my post, but didn’t make any serious attempts to rejoin the real world. I was finally “allowing” myself to unwind. Trusting if I took a break I could restart the engine. Being gentle with myself.

It. Felt. So. Good.  !  Delicious.

Which brings me to the question. Why continue to allow such crazy beliefs to run my life? I see other ways working great for other people? What makes me so unspecial?  Isn’t it enriching to explore the other side? Scientific evidence supports stopping to “smell the roses.”

I vow to schedule more breaks like this…only sans phlegm. Maybe one-a-day, like a vitamin. Or simply take them as life serves them.  I’ll recognize and banish the para-abnormal overactivity that robs me of the “now.” (click to Tweet) Don’t get me wrong. I fill my days with work I love and with the people I find the most endearing, but I still subscribe to some strange beliefs, one being I don’t need to take care of myself the way I’d take care of someone else I love. I’ll bet you do, too. Care to take your inventory and vent your confession with me? You can jot a note below. You’ll probably feel better. I did. And  then, we can smell the roses together.

Sniff, sniff (but the good kind),

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Ripe for some creative fun while pursuing your dreams for the new year? I’ll be having a Beginning Mosaic Workshop called ” Magic in 2014″ in January. Register or  learn more!

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their Writer, Coachdreams by helping them improve productivity and for good behaviours while eliminating poor ones. Follow her on  Facebook on Twitter

 

 

 

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!

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

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The Pebble

“You can be walking on the most beautiful beach you’ve ever seen and if there’s a pebble in your shoe, that’s all you can think about.”  ~ Jim Hardy

Irritations, change your viewWe all have our pebbles. Small, sharp sticking points that demand our attention. As a friend told me, we can have the most incredible, full lives and we look for the one little thing that is out of place…then we focus on that.

Isn’t that the most inane thing you’ve ever heard? And, don’t you do it? Sometimes? Come on! I’m getting ready to confess, so slide on over in the shriving pew with me (click to Tweet). Yeah, you might need to Google that –  “shriving pew.”

Maybe the pebble is worry, a friend that you had a row with, an disagreeable political climate, or the brown spots on the lawn. Sometimes, there is nothing within your power to change the pebble. The thing you have to change is yourself. That’s my pebble. Usually, if I can take action to rectify something – brown spots – I am more at peace. It’s those pebbles that we can’t change that create the painful limp as we stroll along the beach of life (click to Tweet). This week I’ve found myself focused on my pebble. It gnaws, pokes, irritates me. This is no way to live a well-lived life.  My view is is myopic and, I’ll call it like it is, UNGRATEFUL.

Focusing on the pebble is like slapping good fortune in the face. What insolent children to have such an epic fail in “Gratitude 101.” Do the brown spots or worry suffer at all? Nope. Who suffers? ME. YOU. Not only do we reject good karma, we unwittingly end up punishing ourselves.

I’d like to think I’m smarter than this…but that jury on that is out having a European lunch break – and sipping a nice Chianti, I’m sure. (click to Tweet).

So, how do you let go of the pebble? How do you shift your attention to the stuff that matters. Are we using the pebbles as excuses?

Reframing irritation
Cairns are big pebbles – they mark the path (ironic)

Are they distractions to keep us from stepping fully into our joyful, well-lived lives, doing our best work? Brene Brown talks about waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sometimes, if things are really good, we can’t tolerated it…we wait for the storm to hit.

Not sure who I’d be fooling if I claimed to have the answer. Maybe the answer different for every person. Maybe it’s different for every pebble. Not sure.

This is what I do know. I will focus on gratitude. I will enlist my superior intellect (haha) to focus on not just the beach, but the ocean. Life is full of blessings…I will embrace and be thankful for each one.

But, WAIT THERE’S MORE…

I will be more intentionally of service and be more giving. If I focus on others perhaps I’ll forget the pebble all together. In that spirit, I am giving free 45 minute coaching sessions to the first 6 people who contact me via the “Coaching” form on this website. Just send it in, this podiatric patient is there for you! We’ll consider it a sort of penance.

So my prescription is SERVICE, GRATITUDE and A CHANGE OF VIEW. Do you have a pebble and a plan? If so, feel free to share it here, on the blog. I’d love to hear from you.

Until then,

Don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my Jimmy Choos,

irritation

 

 

 

Special thanks to the late, Jim Hardy whose wisdom has guided me through some challenges. May you rest in peace, Jim.

Art coaching, building your art business, belongingness

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who teaches creatives business behaviours that boost their productivity and happiness…all the while honoring their unique and artsy selves.

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.

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!

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!

Hangin’ With the Herd and Drinking with Baboons

“I never really have fit in” – I hear people say that all the time. “I was different. I was the black sheep,” they’ll say. After listening for some time, I realize…they wouldn’t trade belonging if it meant changing who they are.  I respect that.

Blessed are those who have discovered their herd (click to Tweet).

belonging to a group, herd, tribe

I went to a Techie meeting this week. During the networking portion the attendees all had their noses in their notebooks.

Very. Little. Interaction.

I watched as they came and went. They didn’t look like my herd.  I was a gazelle in a room of antelope. Not a lot different, but enough to know it wasn’t my herd. We just all happened to be at the same mental watering hole (click to Tweet). They moved with grace and ease. Shoulders back, eyes forward, confident. They understood the lay of the land. They presented a commanding presence.  I was pleased to witness their “belongingness.” They were brilliant. When I drank from their watering hole my mind expanded!

A friend told me she didn’t belong in the herd that raised her. Raised by wolves, she said.  Her family was not like her at all. They unfriendly groupdidn’t understand or appreciate the gifts she had to bring to the table – er –  watering hole.  That’s a shame, because she is bright, and intelligent and funny and talented. She positively shines and could add sparkle to any party or event.  When she found her artist friends, she found a home. She connected with her herd and now they support, protect and inform one another. They collaborate, champion and share. How powerful to be with your herd, or your “tribe” as I often call it (you can join mine at the sidebar of this page).  We can achieve so much more together than any one person alone.

Diversity, new peopleIt’s important to have a place you feel comfortable; a place you “belong.” There is also a risk in it. If  you spend all your time with the herd  you may get weak and possibly get “et”. It will do you good to wander down to the watering hole on occasion and drink with the elephants, observe the lions, commune with baboons (I do that all the time!).

There is richness, beauty and abundant learning in diversity (click to Tweet).

I’ve spent years working with, and coaching, teams and developing them into high functioning units. Diversity in teams is incredibly important. And, get this, that person who drives you crazy may be your greatest asset (click to Tweet). They force you to see things differently. To think differently and to learn. Appreciate them.

I know you can’t always be on high alert in the tall grass surrounded by unfamiliar beasts. HOW EXHAUSTING!!! Find your herd, your accepting, harmonious herd, so you can rest, rejuvenate and celebrate with them. If you haven’t found them, take a trip down the river and  try a few new watering holes. Enjoy the ride. Your herd is out there…somewhere. If you’ve found them, remember to cross pollinate…take a sip at a new watering hole and learn new stuff.

Go on Safari,

Signature

 

 

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.♥

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