Author Archives: Donna Mills

About Donna Mills

Donna earned her certification as a hand analyst from the International Institute of Hand Analysts in January, 2013. She is also a Certified FranklinCovey Coach and a Certified ARTbundance Coach.

Clutter Clearing Meets the Creative

Clutter Clearing Meets the Creative

Once upon a time, I did a lot of sewing—garments for myself, my children, wedding dresses for my daughter-in-law and my sister-in-law. All of that clothing construction meant a lot of fabric, a massive variety of trims, fastenings, elastic, interfacing, zippers….Fabric

Now, I spend more time drawing and painting than sewing. Canvases, watercolor blocks, drawing pads, paints, brushes, palettes, pastels, charcoal, markers….

Art Supplies

And, as I was pondering in my post on downsizing, I’m wondering about how to (and whether to) pare down my creative supplies.

Since my business partner and I are presenting a clutter clearing mastermind circle (email me to learn more), my coach asked me today what benefits come from clutter clearing.

The first, and most obvious for me, is that I can find what I’m looking for. On more than one occasion, I’ve gone out and bought something I knew I had (somewhere), simply because trying to find it took more time and energy than a trip to the store did. Another benefit is easier access to the things I do have—no more pawing through, lifting down, and shoving aside in order to grab what I need. A third is that the clothes I actually wear don’t get crushed and wrinkly, smashed between a lot of unworn garments in the closet.

But how does all this apply to my ‘creative stuff’?

The editor of Threads magazine (a fabulous sewing journal) addressed this question in an editorial a couple of months ago. Are our sewing supplies —that fabric stash, those old patterns, that once-in-a-blue-moon specialty tool — actually clutter?

And how about our art supplies?

When I stop to think about it, those artsy items need organization, so I can find what I want when I want it, can know they’re accessible, and can keep them in good repair. But the clutter clearing criteria I may use for cleaning out my closet or my overloaded kitchen gadget drawer don’t apply to the tools of my artistic trade.

Those tools are creative fodder. They inspire. Even when that piece of vintage fabric isn’t, right now, finding its way into a new skirt, it holds potential and possibility. It’s a reminder of how and why I got involved in sewing in the first place, and it draws me back to this particular form of creative expression.

I believe artistic tools of all types have that potential, and we need some flexibility when it comes to discarding them. When they overwhelm, they need some weeding-out attention. But for me, clearing my ‘creative clutter’ falls into a category (and a process) all its own.

How about you? Do you see your creative supplies as ‘general clutter,’ or do they merit a classification that’s unique?

Magic

Magic

‘Magic.’

This is yesterday’s prompt from Vanessa Sage’s Instagram challenge*, ‘Enchant Your Everyday.’

Since I tend to run a bit behind, this was the word (a day late) that was on my mind this morning when I grabbed my phone and set out to walk the dog. I was actively looking for the magic. And here is what appeared:

Mountains in the Morning Mist

While this image doesn’t really capture the beauty of the reality, maybe you can get a feel for the ethereal—almost mystical—atmosphere it evoked.

This experience once again reinforced something I know to be true, but which I forget so easily. Magic is all around us. We just have to be present enough to notice it, to acknowledge it, and to appreciate it. It can appear in the form of natural beauty, an arm around your shoulders, an encouraging word, or the wagging tail of a pet who is so excited to see you she can hardly stand still.

And it came to me in quite a profound way with the understanding and awareness of my life purpose. Knowing who I am here to be, and doing my best to live that purpose actively and intentionally, has been nothing short of magical. And acting as a conduit of that clarity for others has been a remarkable gift.

How about you? Where do you find the magic in your life?

*An Instagram challenge is an invitation to post a picture every day, based on a prompt or a concept. If you’d like to join in the fun of Vanessa’s challenge, visit vanessasagelife on Instagram.

 

 

 

Belonging

Belonging

My colleague and friend, Vanessa Sage, has an Instagram challenge going on this month. She is providing a one-word prompt for every day in May, and anyone who wants to participate posts a photo that exemplifies the meaning of that word. Vanessa’s Instagram handle is vanessasagelife, and the hashtag for her challenge is #enchantyoureveryday.

Isn’t that a beautiful concept—enchanting your everyday?

Anyway, today’s prompt is ‘belonging,’ and it made me think about the various places where I feel I belong.

The first thing that popped into my head was last Sunday’s dinner with my husband, children, and grandchildren. After dinner, we gathered in the living room for a movie, with my 3-year-old grandson curled up in my lap. It was the epitome of belonging. My son doesn’t want photos of his children on the internet, so I’m not posting a picture about that experience—I’ll just savor it in my heart.

Then I thought about the retreat I helped to facilitate a couple of weeks ago. Here isCornerstone Retreatants the whole group—our team and our retreatants, with faces small enough to defy recognition. But I hope you can feel the positive energy, the connection, the belonging, that permeated each of us.

Being with women who are on a spiritual quest, who care enough to spend some time exploring their own relationship with the divine, with themselves, and with each other, gave me a special sense of belonging. It even reminded me of the way I feel when I am sharing Soul Psychology insights with clients who are curious about what their hands have to tell them.

How about you? Where do you experience belonging?

 

 

 

Clutter Clearing and Life School

Clutter Clearing and Life School

In my last post I mentioned taking a look at how clutter clearing might relate to Life School.

So what does ‘Life School’ mean?Schoolhouse

Think of it as the water in which you’re swimming, the filter through which you see and experience the world. In his book, Lifeprints, Richard Unger describes Life School as “…a soul-level initiation, a life-scale training program that works its way into every corner of your life.” He relates the four schools to four themes of human development:

  • Feeling safe in your body (School of Peace)
  • Development of awareness and intellect (School of Wisdom)
  • Recognition of heart and empathy (School of Love)
  • Inclination to serve others (School of Service)

All of us are challenged to grow in each of these four areas, but your fingerprint patterns reveal which one or two of these need more attention.

Looking at clutter clearing through the lens of Life School helped me to see what my challenges would likely be. I have two Life Schools—Wisdom and Love. A big lesson in the School of Wisdom is learning to make decisions. Wisdom folks want to be right, want to have lots of options all the time, and use the ‘need’ for more and more information as an excuse to avoid that leap off the diving board. So I realize that the pressure to make the ‘right decision’ when it comes to clearing my clutter makes it difficult to decide to let things go.

In the School of Love, the main lesson is emotional authenticity—learning to feel what I’m really feeling and expressing it appropriately, so I can have warm, sincere connections with others. Those loving connections can make it hard for me to let go of items that people I care about have given me. It feels as though giving away that godawful swirly candy dish means rejecting the person who gave it to me (a person I love very much).

This awareness of the pitfalls inherent in my Life Schools is a good example of that old saying, “Forewarned is forearmed.” By knowing the challenges that will prove most difficult for me, I can look ahead and seek solutions to those specific issues.

And, as I mentioned in my last post on downsizing, our KMI Master Mind, The 10 C’s of Creative Clutter Clearing, is coming up. If working with a group on this sometimes sticky issue would be helpful for you, please contact me and I’ll send you the details!

Downsizing

Downsizing

For quite a while now, I’ve been thinking about downsizing.

Clutter has always been a bit of a challenge for me. My home isn’t overrun with items covering every available surface. That said, the closets, shelves and drawers that were empty when we moved to this house 28 years ago have managed to attract enough stuff to more than fill them (and we’ve added a considerable number of storage spaces along the way).

So I began to explore different methods of dealing with my possessions. The KonMari clutter cartoonmethod, which is very popular right now, tells me to put every item I own of a specific type in a pile on the floor, then pick up each item and ask myself if the item gives me joy. If the answer is “yes,” the item is a keeper. If the answer is “no,” it goes into a garbage bag for removal from my space.

Based on Amazon reviews of the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, the method works amazingly well for the many who have used it.

That said, just the thought of pulling every item of clothing I own out of closets and drawers feels crushingly overwhelming. It literally stops me in my tracks. So I investigated a number of other clutter clearing/downsizing methodologies. During this investigation, one truth stood out—it’s not really about the stuff. It’s about my own mindset, my own habit patterns, and the way I work best.

This led me to think about how my clutter clearing might relate to my Life School, and how I would most naturally work towards the downsizing goal in a way that would be effective, rather than overwhelming, for me. I’ll be exploring those ideas in a little more detail in an upcoming post.

But for right now, one thing I know is that (even though I’m an introvert) I am much more inclined to tackle a challenging task if I have real, live support around me. And that led to a conversation with my business partner, Mary McDowall, a Master Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach, and one of the creators of the KMI Master Mind. I’m a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach, too, as well as a newly-minted KMI Master Mind facilitator (yet another story for another day).

And this radical idea took shape:

Rather than creating yet another course or writing yet another book about clutter clearing, why not approach the challenge from the perspective of a creative masterminding circle? Using a format that allows me to combine the concept of Kaizen* with the creative spark and support of a group of women who are also downsizing?

So—Mary and I are busily putting the finishing touches on The 10 C’s of Creative Clutter Clearing.

Stay tuned!

 

*Kaizen: Breaking huge, overwhelming tasks down into very small steps

Permission to Change

Permission to Change

There is a chance of a big life change in the offing for me, and looking for ways to make this change interesting, I began to look at what positive feelings I have about it. And what came up was the ‘clean slate’ idea that change can bring.

I am enormously contented with my life. I am living my Life Purpose of creating connections and relationships, and am continuing to work with with my Life Lesson of ‘Ms. Not Enough.’ But along with this contentment, a deep-down feeling of excitement emerges when I think, “What would it be like to completely start over, with my days empty and my home free of clutter, both ready to be filled solely with things that delight me? To paint more, to have writing time on my schedule, to meet more often with people I love, to volunteer for a cause I believe in?”

And then the answer comes—I can do this right now! I don’t have to wait for someone Change Pin Boardelse to give me permission, or for circumstances to create that space for a new beginning. It is all under my own control, and I can make the choice to create (or recreate) my life to match whatever vision I design.

This is the power of creativity.

What life changes would you like to make?

You do have permission to make them, you know. And if you didn’t think you had it before, rest assured that you have it now!

 

 

The Beauty of Natural Diversity

Natural Diversity

Photo by Joan Gallant Dooley

Photo by Joan Gallant Dooley

When my friend, Joan Dooley, posted this beautiful photograph on Facebook, I was amazed to learn that these eggs weren’t dyed for Easter. Each of them has its own distinctive, natural color.

It struck me that there is a message here about our own ‘natural colors.’

Our hands, our spirits, our creative process—each of us is unique. We are not like those mass-produced white eggs of uniform size, residing in styrofoam boxes in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, bred for mass consumption.

What is your ‘natural color’? What one-of-a-kind traits are you here to share?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is There an Objective Way to Know My Life Purpose?

Is There an Objective Way to Know My Life Purpose?

How long, and in what way, have you been searching for your Life Purpose?

I spent literally decades reading self-help books and taking courses and programs designed to help me discern mine. I specifically remember starting this quest back inIMG_1546 1985, when I was on jury duty and using the ‘down time’ to read two wonderful books: Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar and Wishcraft by Barbara Sher.

Fifteen years earlier, I had gotten my first full-time job and had begun to support myself. At that point, the idea of doing what I loved for a living seemed terribly impractical. Those days in my early twenties were spent going to work, taking a night class or two to keep edging towards a college degree, and looking for Mr. Right. My job was pleasant, and the idea of pursuing a passion or finding my purpose just wasn’t on my radar.

After reading those books, though, I realized I hadn’t thought enough about what I loved to really know what it was. I also equated doing what I loved with living my Life Purpose. This was frightening, because I worried that doing what I loved–once I figured it out–wouldn’t pay the bills. At the same time, I reasoned that if I weren’t doing what I loved, I wouldn’t be living my Life Purpose. I felt a lot of pressure around this whole question, and started reading more, journaling more, and spending hundreds of dollars on courses to help me figure it out.

Everything described and contained in these courses and books was subjective. It all involved me doing more thinking, more reflecting, more talking. All of this gave me ideas and suspicions, and even a small degree of conviction, but it never completely answered the question in a way that gave me certainty (and peace).

Then, while editing an ezine, I found an article written by Master Hand Analyst Ronelle Coburn. We developed a relationship over the course of editing her article, and I learned that hand analysis could provide the answer to my 20-year-old question: Who am I here to be?

Ronelle explained that my Life Purpose is revealed in the patterns on my own fingertips. Our fingerprints are formed in utero; at the end of our fifth month of existence, they are already uniquely our own. And they hold the key to that basic life question.

For me, the answer lies in being the person who can establish loving relationships, make connections, maintain emotional authenticity, communicate, and help others to heal.

Who are you here to be?

What Life Purpose Is

What Life Purpose Is

My last post, What Life Purpose Isn’t, described some personal attributes that can be mistaken for Life Purpose. Our values, skills, aptitudes, likes and dislikes, careers, and goals can all be confused with Life Purpose.

So, if those important attributes aren’t Life Purpose, what is?

Your Life Purpose is who you are here to be. It is a state of consciousness that you yearn to inhabit. When you are dwelling in that state of consciousness, you translate that into what you do. This internal experience (being) requires external support (doing). When those two pieces are congruent, you are living your purpose. It’s a natural unfolding into ‘right life.’

In other words, that basic, intrinsic ME is demonstrated and realized in the actions you take. In order for you to be fulfilled in your purpose, there must be integrity between who you are designed to be on the inside and what you choose to do in the outside world.

Here’s an example. Assume that your Life Purpose is that of the Innovator. This Life Purpose involves being absolutely true to yourself, accepting your own unique way of seeing and doing, and sharing that unique perspective with others. You question the status quo, push for change, and stick to your out-of-the box thinking, regardless of pressure to conform. You work to develop an interaction style that honestly reflects your inner nature.

Orson Welles, Innovator

Orson Welles, Innovator

In order to live this Life Purpose, you have to be willing to share your unique ideas. You can’t be an Innovator unless you are actually engaging in innovation. Keeping quiet in the face of criticism, adopting only generally-accepted ways of doing things, constantly compromising in order to ‘fit in’—all of these actions sabotage your ability to live the Innovator purpose, because they take you out of integrity with yourself.

Living your Life Purpose means maintaining your personal integrity. Since life purpose is a consciousness to inhabit, rather than a set of external circumstances or a specific, relatively short-term goal, it means that it’s a process, a journey.

Every day, we have the chance to make the choices that reflect who we are here to be. When the internal being and external doing align, we are truly living our Life Purpose. And this is where our deepest fulfillment lies.

What Life Purpose Isn’t

What Life Purpose Isn’t

When I discovered hand analysis, my entire attraction to the process was based on learning my Life Purpose. The Big Question: “Why Am I Here?”

I had the sense that I was here for a reason—that I had been placed here, in this specific time and circumstance, to fulfill a divine plan.

But I was also under a couple of misapprehensions about what my hand analysis was going to tell me.

I thought that once I was certain of my Life Purpose, I’d automatically know what I was good at, what my hidden aptitudes were, and, specifically, whether I should be a painter or a writer or a computer programmer.color-866102_640

Learning my Life Purpose didn’t provide the answer to those questions—or at least not directly. My Life Purpose isn’t the sum total of my goals, my skills, my personality type, or my values. All of these aspects of my self-awareness are important, and they are important in determining exactly how I want to live my purpose. But they aren’t the purpose itself.

Consider what it would be like if my purpose consisted of a major life goal. For example, if I have a goal of writing a best-selling novel, and I’m the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, does that mean that once my book goes to press, I no longer have a purpose? No. And if I have a value of integrity, does that mean that living in integrity means I’m living my purpose? Not really (although it’s impossible to live my purpose without factoring integrity into the equation).

And if my purpose were delineated by my skills and aptitudes, what limits would that definition of purpose place on me? As my skills improve or deteriorate, does that mean my purpose improves or deteriorates as well? What if there are aptitudes I just don’t possess? Does that mean I can’t live purposefully?

No, to all of the above.

And since values, goals, skills, and temperament aren’t my Life Purpose, next blog post we’ll take a look at what Life Purpose is.