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

 

 

 

Play Grounded

Play GroundedLately, I’ve been a bit wonky. Does that ever happen to you? I know I’m off kilter because I get stressed by things that wouldn’t typically bother me, feel rushed, overcommitted and generally out of balance. It’s about life balance.

Life is like a teeter totter, it’s fun when everything is working, but if the counter balance abandons you, your bum hits the earth with a heart-stopping THUD and that HURTS! (click to Tweet)

I’ve been on this playground before. I’ve ridden the little pony merry go round, got dizzy and thrown up.  I’ve found cat turds in the sandbox, been pushed around by bullies and gripped the monkey bars so tightly my hands blistered (click to Tweet). Finally, I learned when to take a seat in the shade of the big tree and gaze at the clouds. Given my vast playground experience, I can recognize the warning signs and change activities  before I become a publicly raving idiot…um…. or is that what I’m doing now?

So, how do you know when you’re at the edge, getting ready to take the precarious tip off the corkscrew slide and do a face plant in the itchy cedar shavings?  It helps if you can recognize it before you start up the ladder.

Here’s what I look for (your warning signs may be different):

  • Things aren’t as funny as they used to be
  • Things aren’t as rewarding as they used to be
  • Things aren’t as relaxing as they used to be
  • I get bothered by things being out of place
  • I feel OBLIGATED
  • I feel empty
  • I start to forget details
  • It starts to not feel so fun

Grrreat. What can I DO?

I normally go to my coaching “Life Balance Wheel” and take a little assessment. I rank myself between 1 and 10 on each section, 1 being very dissatisfied and 10 being completely satisfied. I’m not ranking what I think I should be doing or how much effort I put into each section. I’m ranking how satisfied I am with that part of my life RIGHT NOW. I know it’s an “old” tool, but it works. It covers the major areas of life satisfaction and will immediately alert the “assessee” of where to get the most bang for the buck. For the record, I include spiritual development in the personal growth category, but that is highly personal and up to you. Hint, start with the low scoring areas first, and calendar some activities to support that part of your life.

Life Balance

Generally, if I work too much, my recreation and family life suffers. That doesn’t feel so good, so if I take specific measures to connect with those parts of my life, I feel much better. If I play (recreate) too much, my work and finances suffer. The prescription then becomes to focus more heavily on earning behaviours…like work. Easy! The trick is to have the wheel balanced. You want it to roll nicely…no flat places or huge dips (like the teeter totter) cuz we want to save our bums.

I have a few personal triggers that will stop me in my tracks…clutter. Yep, if my surroundings are in disarray, I won’t be able to think straight…so better straighten up so I can get some breathing room and make the next steps count. If you need ideas how to deal with clutter check out this post.

Feel free to use this wheel. Are there areas you could focus on to improve the satisfaction level in your life? What are your early warning signs you’re off kilter? You don’t want to do a face plant in the itchy cedar shavings. Take some baby steps, know when to give yourself a time out and you’ll be squealing with delight in no time!

Play Grounded,

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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 improve productivity by helping them form good behaviours and eliminating poor ones. Follow her on Michelle Headshot plushy coatFacebook on Twitter

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My Lunacy (Luna, See?)

moon journalTonight the moon is full. There will also be a penumbral eclipse, though it may not be visible in North America. I’ve always followed the moon closely. She is a heavenly body symbolizing light, the feminine (maiden, mother and crone) and abundance. The moon controls her own cycles. She is the embodiment of planting, growth and harvest. The moon taps into our feminine qualities, all of us, not just women, but men, too.

Tonight’s moon, October 18, 2013 will be a “Hunter’s Moon.” (click to Tweet)

So, why am I going all loony for the moony?  Mostly because I spent last weekend with 55 other artists in a room with music, laughter, chocolate, flowers and Alyson Stanfield, The Art Biz Coach. We defined our dreams and took oaths with one another on steps we’d take to make our dreams materialize. It was fantastic. The friendships we formed will go far beyond the weekend and the steps we’ve vowed to take will become our everyday, powerful, business tools and rituals.

moon journal
Future Moon Journalers

Rituals. We had a discussion about the benefits of journaling, affirmations and gratitude. These activities are powerful and keep us on track. They do require some upkeep AND I have something additional to share with you. You may even want to try it.

I do a bi-monthly moon dance. Yep, I get all cozy, clear, conscious and talk to the moon. Twice a month. Like clockwork. My mind is clear. I get in a good space. I go outside, look up and let it fly. Don’t be alarmed. It’s not a cloven-hoofed ritual or anything, and it has good value.

I have a journal I use for the full and new moons. On the full moon, I let stuff go. It is a time of emptying, moving forward and past the concerns I’ve had. It doesn’t have to be fancy…usually just one, simple page. It may look something like this:

During this full moon I, with trust and faith, surrender and release that which no longer serves me.

  •  Doubts about my talents and how they may be used to serve others
  • Fear of vulnerability (this is PROOF, I’ve let that one fly! I’m sharing my journal with you!)
  • A sense of lack or scarcity
  • Pain from the past that keeps me from savoring joy in the present

Today I joyfully surrender and am open to receive life differently.

I might also include concerns for my children or other people in my life, my interpretation of how I was treated or an event that felt unjust. Basically, it’s stuff I hang on to. We all have it. It’s emotional clutter, feelings of doubt. Why drag it around like toilet paper on the bottom of your shoe? The moon will take care of it!

So, the full moon is a time to unload. It’s spring cleaning for the soul, but I do it every month! (click to Tweet)

The new moon ritual is a little different. New moons are for exploring possibilities, setting intentions and moving forward. New moons manifest new ideas, practices and habits. I don’t get too specific, that’s what my “To Do” list is for. Here’s an example of a new moon ritual:moon journal

I accept these things into my life now, for my highest good and the good of all concerned:

  • Joyful, artful living
  • Cultivating more compassion, patience and non-judgment
  • A career path that fulfills my purpose and brings joy to myself and others
  • Deep connections with my animal friends
  • Yadda, yadda, yadda. Still reading? Did you get that one?

I am open to receive these gifts or something better. With joyful gratitude ~ m

New moons set the stage for the next slice of life you want to create (click to Tweet).

Sometimes we do things because they feel good. Sometimes we do things because they work. You will be pleased to know, this practice fits both bills. Occasionally, I have to carry an action over to the next month. Sometimes I find myself revisiting these releases or manifestations. But, I have a chronicle. I can see where I’ve been, I can imagine where I want to go…and create it. Every month I see growth, change and it goes the way of my intentions.

Embrace your lunacy. It only happens 24 times per year (or so). Go ahead…

Moon Me,

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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

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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 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

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Hearing Voices

I think of myself as fearless.

But. I’m. Not.

Fearless Idiosyncratic fashionistas About 8 years ago I publically declared my intention to become a crazy old lady in my later years. That statement liberated me. It made it possible to be creatively fearless and do stuff that would make the faint of heart run and hide. I put my art into the public eye with reckless abandon. I wrote my thoughts and confessed feelings that I shouldn’t publically admit (still doing it…you can’t stop me…yes, you could…please be gentle…don’t hurt me). I felt free to live with verve. I would be like the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas (more here).

When we don’t care about what other people think of us; when we do not beat ourselves with the social climber’s measuring stick; when we simply do our best and our heart knows it is good enough (for now)…that’s when the magic happens (click to Tweet)That’s the place where we give ourselves permission to flourish. It’s the fertile learning ground, the joyful happy place, the vast creative field where innovation and daring meet. We are authentic, courageous and fearless when we live and work from there, like children. Deep down, I know it is my obligation to protect this place in myself.

Lots of times fear creeps in.  It does so like the fog …on little cat feet. Thank you, Carl Sandburg. We don’t hear it coming. We raise our heads and there it is – BAM! IN YOUR FACE!

Yesterday, I spent some of the afternoon sketching and painting. Drawing is somewhat new for me, so I’ve chronicled my journey Fearful voicefrom the start and am pleased with my progress. I cavalierly posted a picture of a botanical on Facebook. A friend replied, “Love it! You are getting so good.” Promptly I removed it. I knew the rocks weren’t right. Shame. Shit. Shame. Nothing had changed but the voice in my head. The seeping self-judgement…thief of joy. 

I’ll bet you do it, too. Sometimes? You do, right?

For a lot of artists their work springs from joyful self-expression. For a lot of people their best comes when they embrace whatever work they do with joyful abandon. THIS IS WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO. It feels good.

Then…here comes the voice; the fear of judgment. Worse yet, we turn our judgment to others and compare ourselves to their goodness or a golden standard. Suddenly, mine is not good enough. I am not good enough. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your dreams – you fill in the blank:

  • My art is not good enough
  • I’m not a good enough parent
  • I am not smart enough
  • I’m not a good employee
  • I’m not pretty/handsome enough
  • My voice is not good enough
  • I’m not a good daughter/son
  • My house is not good enough
  • My writing is not good enough (then why are you still reading?)
  • My clothes are not good enough

I’ll spare you the pain, because the list goes on and on. Know what? Sure, you could be doing better. That’s why it’s called a journey. There is always room to improve – that’s the BEAUTY of it! (click to Tweet)

It’s the voice that must be controlled. Silenced. Replaced with the cheerleading voice.  Some  coaches call the negative voice the Gremlin, and everyone has one.  Shame researcher, Brene Brown talks about it, researches it extensively. She says only sociopaths don’t feel shame. Whewwww! I dodged that bullet!

So in the spirit of being a crazy old lady, because I know better, because I choose courage, because I made a commitment to work from a place of joy and abandon, I am sharing. This is why I do what I do.

From shameful voice to fearless
Shameful Botanical Print

 “I will not let the voice of fear rob me of my best life” (click to Tweet). 

What about you? You make a choice to listen to a voice. Do you choose the fearful one, or the champion?  What is the price?  This blog is a safe place, a tribe, where you can share. I find most people are supportive and wonderful. Those who aren’t have their own work to do. Do not go down without a fight…be brave…be happy.

I have no doubt, you are good enough,

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

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Hangin’ With the Herd and Drinking with Baboons

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

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

belonging to a group, herd, tribe

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

Very. Little. Interaction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go on Safari,

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

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

Filling the Solo Cup

working alone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Full and Proceed to Party!

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

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Care and Feeding of the Muse – Aspirations of Inspiration

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

GOOD FOR YOU! 

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

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

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

Inspiration graphic

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

BE INSPIRED!!!

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

 

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The Urge to Purge

Clutter 2Clutter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, how to manage?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep it Tidy!

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

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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

 

Give Yourself a Break

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers to a Well Lived Life!

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

Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 

Driven to Distraction – 6 Strategies for Creatives to Get More Done

Tick Tock Your Life is Waiting
Tick Tock Your Life is Waiting

 

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 a wise woman say, “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.

Git ‘er Done!

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

 

 

 

 

 

My Dog’s Life

If you’re a regular reader, you know – nothing really surprises me. I’m very open and confessional. And here, you can be, too. What I like most about life is the imperfections in mankind…and that includes me. Enjoy my confessional…I find it liberating. When you do it, I find it endearing.

 

Nutshell my lifeI’ve always felt things deeply. To cope, I’ve devised a mechanism of sometimes simply observing the feeling, rather than reacting to it. This goes not only for the bad stuff, but also for the good. I’m really enjoying life this way, observing others and blessing them on their journeys. It’s a good thing I’ve figured this out, otherwise I’d be more a more cracked nut than I already am. So here is my story about something I KNEW would be a  cosmic 2×4 and how I came to build with it, rather than let it be used as a weapon against me. (Click to Tweet)

In our family we have 3 dogs. One of my main challenges, a pinnacle point of my internal contention, is one of our dogs. Our family has a terrier who’ll be14 years old next month. I’ll be upfront and admit she has not been my favourite dog. In fact, I don’t even really like her. I feel I’ve been tolerating her the whole time. She tends toward willful disobedience, isn’t particularly bright and she gets quite dirty of her own choosing – like rubbing along the fence outside after a bath. For someone like me, a former obedience trainer with deep relationships with my dogs, she is “a different breed.”

In our family we’ve always brought our dogs into the fold. They are part of our tribe and they receive proper respect, thoughtful feeding, are expected to have good dog-manners and we love them unconditionally. Well…except for this one – except for this one with me, to be more precise.

Mystic 4The main issue in this canine relationship is not with the canine at all. It’s all me….I know that. I feel bad about myself because of how I feel about the dog. I should be the bigger person, after all. But ,in my humanity, I’ve been waiting for the dog to “go.” Yep, I said it out loud. Dog, if you go, I’ll feel better about myself, because I won’t be struggling with negative juju involving YOU! It’s your fault anyway. NOW, before I start getting raving reply posts, let me say, I know this is wrong. The intellectual and spiritual part of me knows I’ll be dragging this distain like toilet paper on my shoe into the afterlife. Hey, I get this. But I’ve spent years trying to reconcile it, and can’t. I can’t come to terms because as soon as I let go and accept her, she goes off and does something so canine imbecile that I’m right back to square one. LOSE, LOSE!

She’s been getting frail. She’s slower. She doesn’t eat well. I’ve sworn not to spruce up the house until she’s gone. She rubs against the furniture and leaves whatever was on the fence on the sofa, after all. She has recently had “accidents.” I would be silly to invest in new furnishings…I’d be guarding them…like she guards her food she has no intention of finishing.

Mystic 5So, you get the picture. It’s a bad roommate with a 14-year lease. (click to Tweet)  Well…it could be longer…but after yesterday, I don’t think so.

Yesterday morning she wouldn’t get out of bed. She would barely hold her head up. She doesn’t seem to be in any pain, just winding down. Kind of like when my grandmother passed. Truly, the sadness and guilt flooded over me like a tsunami. I went to yoga and afterward spoke with the woman who owns the retreat center. They’ve lost 2 dogs in a short time. The dogs went naturally, in the grass, under the trees.

I came home and spoke with the dog. I asked forgiveness for my inability to move into a meaningful relationship. I. Did. Not. Know. How. I am a flawed human and I’ve missed the lesson entirely. I played gentle music in the house for her and watched her breathe. I stroked her. I cried. I ached. I gave her a little Reiki. I prayed for her peace and comfort. Her last visitors paraded through the house, to pay their respects.

It was so heart wrenching that when I could cry no more tears, I carried her on her bed to the beautiful, warm, light outside. It’s spring. The birds are chirping and the sun is warm. It was what I would want (I think, but not yet, please). When we got outside she got up! She ambled around slowly. She drank some water and ate deli turkey from Whole Foods – no nitrites, you know, because nitrites aren’t good for you. She enjoyed the rest of the day, receiving additional visits, cuddles and sweet murmurs from admirers.

As I write this she is resting peacefully in the other room. Gently finding her way through it all…as I am finding mine. Mystic 7Perhaps, I can’t find that deep connection I have with my other hounds, but by God, I can support her through a sacred  death. I can reach for the lesson, though it may slip through my fingers. I can be open to the outcomes, though they may not be the ones I expect. I can lean into the discomfort of these feelings and just BE with them. I can ask for forgiveness. I can share my story, because sometimes, when the light is shed on shame, it retreats into the shadows and leaves us with some acceptance and peace. (click to Tweet)

 

“You may think you need to find an answer in order to have peace of mind. But if you choose peace of mind now, you will have an answer. On a path of growth, we don’t get rid of chaos. We learn how to dance in the uncertainty, breathe through fire, and discover strengths we never knew we had.”
                                                                                                                                                                     Tama J. Kieves

Special thanks to Tama Kieves who is the author of This Time I Dance, Creating the Work You Love and Inspired and Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work. You can find her at www.tamakieves.com 

Deep Peace,

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


In A Nutshell

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? The Opinion Corporation of Princeton says 62% of2013 people make New Year’s resolutions and only 8% achieve them. Other statistics show people in their 20’s knock down their New Year’s resolutions more frequently…people over 50 complete them at less than half the rate as their younger competitors…oops….I mean counterparts.

Well, forget that mess. As a coach I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions…but I’ve done some Vision Boards and led Vision Board classes and that worked great. My personal boards take about two years to manifest. But, they do deliver.

Nutshell w wordsFor the annual buzz, what I really like is the “Nutshell” word. It’s one word that sums up what you want to create or become in the upcoming year. It should be positive, strong, and inspiring. You ought to be able to remember it. Last year mine was “Courage.” I evolved my business, showed off my art, blogged about my authentic self and basically lived with abandon. It was thrilling.

This year, I’m focusing on “Joy.” I’m going to focus on “Joy” because I’m lazy. It’s a shorter word. Less stressful. The way I see it, if I can create “Joy” all the stuff that makes me joyful will naturally fall into place. Actually, I probably just need to get out of joy’s way, and let her work her magic. The result – rewarding work, happy people around me and a life full of unicorns and blossoms. Yep – “Joy” it is.

I hope you take some time to find your Nutshell Word. What do you want to be? Healthier? Happier? Patient? Hopeful? Strong? What do your want to create? Financial success (I KNOW that’s 2 words) ? Faith? Tolerance? This is your opportunity for a definitive, fresh start. If you don’t create with intent, something will still happen. Being the control freak I am, I’d rather hold the reins. Put it right here in writing so the world can see…in a nutshell…what’s your word?

Re-create your life!

~ Michelle

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