The Middle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filling the Solo Cup

working alone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Full and Proceed to Party!

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

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Poetry, Purpose and Pushing Up Daisies

Cairns in Oak Creek 2                   I Will Not Die an Unlived Life

                               “I will not die an unlived life.

                           I will not live in fear

                              of falling or catching fire.

                              I choose to inhabit my days

                                 to allow my living to open me,

                               to make me less afraid,

                             more accessible,

                               to loosen my heart,

                                  until it becomes a wing,

                                a torch, a promise.

                                  I choose to risk my significance;

                                   to live so that which came to me as seed

                                     goes to the next as blossom,

                                      and that which came to me as blossom

                              goes on as fruit.”

                    ~Dawna Markova

A special thanks to Dawna Markova, Ph.D, CEO of Professional Thinking Partners and author of the book “I Will Not Die an Unlived Life” for the nudge, nay, shove, to re-examine how we are spending our precious lives.

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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

The Quicksand of Introspection

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”                             ~ C.G. Jung

Many creative types tend to be introspective. According to Merriam Webster introspection can be understood this way:

In-tro-spec-tion (n.) a reflective looking inward : an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings.

Introspection is interesting, it can become rather obsessive and addictive. I’m introspective by nature…and when not being quicksand1introspective, I’m extrospective – examining the world outside me. So, while watching y’all I’ve noticed, introspection can be like quicksand. People get in, but have a great challenge trying to get out. Sometimes they can no longer interact with the world…going under…that’s bad. Still, it’s important, nay, essential, to understand oneself and our place in the world. It’s especially important to creative types because part of the art we create springs from that very introspection. But, as art critic and philanthropist John Ruskin said,

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small parcel.” 

And he should know…he looked at oodles of art and thought… A LOT.

So how do we wade through the quicksand and get out safely? I’ve made a “life-saver” observation while in a time of extrospection…EXPERIENCE COUNTS.

It’s a bit like when you start a new job or take on a new responsibility. You have any given number of balls and are expected to keep them in the air…at least the important ones. But, since you aren’t sure which are important, you juggle, like a caffeinated clown. As you gain more knowledge and confidence, you realize some of the balls can take a rest, and that you can take a breather. Introspection is like that. While some realizations may seem looming and huge, that doesn’t include every single notion we conjure. As you get older – ah, here’s yet another benefit – it becomes more apparent where to put our energy, what notions to tend to, what can wait.

As we gain experience we learn how to extricate ourselves from being mired in the quicksand of introspection.

Bridge b&wWe realize the value of extrospection and can lace the two together knowing how to bring the best of ourselves, our talents, our voice and the needs of others together, to be a formidable asset to the world.  It’s the gift, the payoff, for having gone through the fire in our youth.

So please, cherish your introspective time, enlist it to create, express and own who you are. Taking that time allows your authenticity to shine through in your work. AND also, take some time to observe the world, to extrospect. Find how you can help. Introspection and extrospection work so well together. The perfect marriage.

I’ll be waiting for my wedding invitation,

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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.♥Coaching pic  - Version 3

 

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Butt in Saddle, Peace in Heart

Motivational quotes…pretty pictures…we love them, don’t we? Sometimes they go deep, layers and layers deep. This Hafiz quote struck me with its depth and profundity. AND, it’s National Poetry Month, so why not celebrate one of the World’s most beloved and widely read poets? Hafiz, or Hafez, was a 14th century Persian poet who has influenced the likes of Thoreau, Emerson, Goethe, me and maybe you.

Hafiz

Consider the words you speak. I’m often surprised and enamored with my own wit. Sometimes, snarky, stabbing remarks about observations are just too good to keep to myself. (Click to Tweet) But, even if I don’t say them, I may think them. What does that get me?

I noticed McDonald’s new McWrap. Well, now that was too good to keep to myself. McWrap? You want me to eat a McWrap? You must be kidding me. Say it aloud marketing people! What were they thinking? I am self-entertained…but my tirade leads to thinking of other’s perceived stupidity…to the nutritional value of fast food…to the allure and marketing intended to seduce all Americans (and beyond our borders) to violate their bodies to fill them with chemicals and engineered “food stuff”…to our healthcare system and the big pharmaceutical companies…STOP!!! Truly, friends…you can tell me if I’m the only one on earth who thinks this way.

 But there’s more…

My dear Hafiz, it’s more than the words we speak. It’s the thoughts we THINK! To disarm them, to tame them, requires a spiritual practice of looking at the appreciative side, being anchored in gratitude, embracing forgiveness and acceptance. Let me tell you…

it.can.be.difficult.

654px-Sacred_lotus_Nelumbo_nucifera

As Ghandi said:

“Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words.
 
Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions.
 
Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits.    
         
 Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values.
 
Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.”
 
 

We create our reality and impact our very happiness through the perception that begins with our thoughts. Are my witticisms worth it? (For YOU, dear reader friends…irrevocably yes!) For my peace of mind, my thoughts really ought to be corralled.

What are you doing? What words are in your house? Time for Spring Cleaning? Time to re-evaluate? I invite you to share your ideas and experiences right here on the blog. Thank you for making us think, Hafiz…even if your quote did end in a preposition. STOP!!!

If our thoughts create your destiny it may be time to tame that pony and ride off into the sunset!

May your butt stay firmly in the saddle!

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreaming in Colour

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

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

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

By PatLambrecht-Hould
By Pat
Lambrecht-Hould

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

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

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

Sweet Dreams….

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

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

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 

My Johnny Depp Sweater

ChagallI have a special sweater. It’s bulky, and fuzzy and keeps me warm on those really cold winter days. I marinate in this sweater. You might have something similar in your closet.

Back in the winter of 2005 I was starting my fledgling coaching practice. In anticipation of my great success, I took special, painstaking measures of creating a space I could work, innovate, grow and help the countless millions who would be knocking down my door for my services. Yes, I did that.

I painted the walls of my office yellow and hung lovely Chagall prints. They were magical. It was magical. Then…not so much. I worked, and worked and nothing much happened. At least, it didn’t measure up to my expectations. Go figure.Fuzzy Brown Sweater

All the while I donned my special sweater. Full of hope and vigor I spent hours upon hours forcing my “success.” Marketing, creating, forcing. My sweater got itchy, like a thick, decaying skin. Matted…stifling…Depplike. Yup. Remember that robe that Johnny wore in “The Secret Window?” Johnny wore the robe while he was losing his marbles. That robe was like my sweater’s brother. I got a little depressed, a little crazy, but unlike Turturro, I didn’t bury anyone in the backyard. I. Swear. I. Did. Not. All the same, the sweater became less than helpful.

johnny deppWhy am I telling you this? I’m not sure, but breathe easy because I still don’t have a shovel in my hand. I’m wearing my Johnny Depp sweater as I write this. I’m happy, and thriving and full of joy. Times have changed and so have I…the sweater? Its still pretty much the same.

What’s in your closet?

                                                                       Michelle

Sans Sweater
Sans Sweater

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

The Art of Gratitude

Well, then. It’s November – my self designated “Month of Gratitude.” Most of us wait until that Thursday late in November to give thanks for our blessings and life’s sweet gifts. Last year, I began a personal tradition of finding one thing to be grateful for each day and posting it on my Facebook page. I invited my friends to share their thoughts and blessings as well.

It started innocently enough. What resulted was the cultivation of a new mindset. Each day I searched for the one precious item I could post. Was that the gift I would share? No! Wait! THAT is the blessing I should post. But, there was always more. I could only share one blessing per day, and no stone in my life was left unturned as I counted my blessings, large and small and savored their sweetness. By Thanksgiving, I was totally blissed out!

Truly, you don’t realize the magic, the goodness, the grace, until you begin to focus on it. Last November I “rewired” my thinking and had a fabulous month. So, I would like to invite you to play with me this month. “Stuff grows where intention flows” so hook into my Facebook page and share what you are thankful for each day. Cultivate the magic…it’s an art.

With Gratitude,

                                           ~ Michelle

While I Was Busy Being Someone Else

Strange thing happened the other day…

I was called to recount my past life in detail. My corporate life. When this happened, I began to behave like the person I was back then. I got edgy, sharply strategic, unsettled.

I am not a corporate type. It’s not that I’m not smart enough, aware enough, creative enough…I can do those things. It’s my soul. My soul does not agree with the treatment I witnessed as an internal corporate employee. I’m an artist at heart. A writer, a coach and communicator. I appreciate pure intention, honesty, flaws. The human aspect, with all its imperfections makes me joyful.

Live Outside the Box

Do you remember who you really are? As a child you probably knew. You may still know. The point is, some of us lose ourselves while we’re busy being someone else. We become someone other people would approve of, someone manageable, someone neat, tidy and easy to understand. As you put yourself in that box, the real you may seep into the corners, away from your grasp. That’s NOT GOOD!

I pruned and trimmed my essential self to fit into the box of “acceptable.” Over the last year, I’ve been gathering the pieces and putting them together. This is work I’ve done with clients for years. I help people find themselves, create bullet proof game plans and execute those plans – showcasing their talents and brilliance. It is very rewarding work, because it honors the client’s authentic self as well as my own.

I’ve learned this….

Being someone else does the world no justice. It robs others of your true talents and robs you of a fully lived life. All the notions, all the stories around why you should be who you put in the box can be very convincing…and sometimes we need to really work at dismantling the stories. It can take boatloads of courage to get up, shake off the dust, gather up your pieces and bring it to the world! It’s the way it was supposed to be!

Shine your Light!

Michelle

Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach. She can be reached found at www.facebook.com/michelleandresconsulting  – for coaching or www.facebook.com/michellesoileauandres  – for art

Life Imitates Art

Welcome to my blog – Life Imitates Art.

Oscar Wilde wrote in his essay The Decay of Lying:

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

It’s an interesting perspective and a stimulating argument.

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

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

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

BE INSPIRED!!!

~Michelle