Tag Archives: Creativity

Finding a Balance

Finding a Balance

BalanceIn our current political environment, I’m struggling—how to find the balance between my responsibility as a spiritual being to protest what I see as grievous transgressions of respect and rational conduct, and my attempts to remain internally grounded and peaceful?

I’ve been reluctant to talk about this question, because I don’t want to risk alienating friends or family members who see things differently. Each of us is on our own personal journey, and I cannot judge where someone else is along that path. That said, the last several months have been very difficult for me. I’ve never been particularly political, and after months of bombardment by distressing presidential campaign rhetoric, I had been looking forward to ‘the end.’

I didn’t anticipate that the end would become ‘the beginning’ of what sometimes feels like an alternate universe. Tirades that would have been considered unspeakable in the past seem to represent this ‘new normal.’ Behaviors that would have been condemned out of hand a year ago have been glossed over, and even embraced as ‘telling it like it is.’ And fake news has flooded social media (the only news source accessed by many, it seems), making it hard to ferret out the factual from the fanciful.

These are the thoughts that have been consuming much of my internal real estate since November 9th.

This morning, I met online with several colleagues who are also working through these issues. It was a chance to be reminded that each of us has a choice in how we live. There is a bigger picture to keep in mind. As author Stephen Covey would say, the political scene is in my Circle of Concern, but much of it is outside my Circle of Influence.

As an individual, I’m discovering that the best way to deal with my internal conflict is to get back to my spiritual and creative roots. Where can I, one single person, make a difference? What can I do personally to make the world a kinder place?

Choosing to take small steps, to approach the issue from a perspective of love rather than a position of fear or antagonism, and praying hard and consistently for courage in the long term, can help me. Focusing on my creative work (painting, writing, sewing, hand analysis) and nurturing my closest relationships provides a renewing lifeline in a time of uncertainty and instability.

As Viktor Frankl so brilliantly put it, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

When you are dealing with turbulent times, what responses are helpful for you?

 

 

Lessons from Spain

Lessons from Spain

I’ve been away for a while. We took a 15-day trip to Spain and Boston from mid-to late October, and the combination of preparing for the trip, taking the trip, and recuperating from the trip, not to mention the turmoil of the presidential election and its aftermath here at home, has meant living in a prolonged state of temporary chaos. I’m finally settling down a bit (albeit in fits and starts), and taking time to think about these past few weeks.

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

The trip was quite an adventure, and as with most adventures, I learned a few things along the way.

The first lesson involved packing for this expedition. Usually, when I take a long trip, especially to a foreign country, I pack a huge suitcase and check it in at the airport. This time, realizing that we’d be doing a lot of plane hopping along the way, and we’d be hard to catch, I worried about losing my luggage. So instead of a virtual steamer trunk, holding more than I could possibly use in two weeks, I traveled with a single carryon suitcase and a tote bag.

Wow! Liberation!

The experience made me think about my internal and external baggage. In truth, it’s the internal baggage that seems to result in the external. The fear of not having or being enough. Fear of boredom, of hurting someone’s feelings, of holding on to extraneous stuff ‘just in case.’ And carrying all of this internal baggage has consequences in the external world— bearing the physical and emotional weight of too much stuff.

We recently completed eight weeks of handling some of that baggage in our Creative Clutter Clearing mastermind. That experience was as liberating as traveling lightly, trusting that we have, that we are, enough.

How about you? What kind of baggage are you carrying? What is it doing for you, and what is it doing to you?

 

 

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Alignment

Alignment

I have a rather embarrassingly large shoe collection. Perhaps I can blame this on my mother—shoes and groceries were the only things she enjoyed shopping for, so maybe I inherited my love of footwear from her!shoes-in-closet

At any rate, as I was dressing this morning, I wanted a pair of shoes at the bottom of a five-box stack. I lifted the lid from that box (with the four other boxes on top of it), pulled out the shoes, and let the lid drop as I reached for a garment on the other side of the closet.

When I turned back, that stack of shoeboxes was no longer nicely aligned. I jiggled with the top boxes, pushed and pulled a bit, then realized that forcing anything on top wasn’t going to have any effect. I needed to get to the bottom of the stack and center the lid on that box. Once I did that, everything else fell into place.

It made me think of how I handle the issues that pop up in my life. I can shuffle and juggle and try to force differences on the surface, but if my internal foundation isn’t flat and stable, all the tugging and pushing and smooshing in the world isn’t going to make things smooth on the top. Instead, I have to make sure what I’m doing on the outside is in alignment with what’s going on inside.

How about you? Are there areas of your life where your internal self is at odds with your outer self? If so, what choices might you make to create more alignment between the two?

Independence and Support

Independence and Support

The holy grail of independence seems to be at the top (or close to it) of the list of qualities in which Americans take pride. I’ve observed, in others and in myself, this cultural stance of the nobility of doing it all, doing it alone, and preferably doing it without complaining about it.

I remember a television advertisement from my childhood. It was an ad for Anacin, and showed a young woman coming completely unglued when her mother suggested adding some salt to a cooking pot. The daughter turns and shrieks, “Mother, please! I’d rather do it myself!!” This outburst was caused by the daughter’s tension headache, which the advertised pain reliever would allegedly cure.

This little drama was manufactured to sell a product. But it does raise a niggling question: How often are we willing to admit that we can’t do it ourselves?diy-sign

I’m a do-it-yourselfer for a couple of reasons. The first, more lofty reason, is that I honestly do like to learn new things. I’m a perennial student. Being able to tackle a project and create something I didn’t know how to create before is exciting and fulfilling.

The second reason is that I feel guilty paying someone else to do something I know I can do (or can learn to do) for myself. For example, I never felt comfortable having someone come in to clean my house, even when I left for work at 7:00 a.m., got home at 7:00 p.m., and had young children. And after years of spending precious Saturdays mowing and trimming the lawn, we finally hired a gardener to come once a week. Our neighbors, I’m sure, were grateful, because we didn’t always spend those Saturdays on yard work, and it showed.

Independence is all well and good, but there are times when it is so much more effective to enlist the support of others. That has been the case for me when it comes to coping with Project Downsize. Really getting a handle on my possessions, discerning which to keep and which to release, can be an emotional minefield.

And this is where support has come to the rescue.

Co-facilitating our KMI Master Mind, Creative Clutter Clearing, has been a huge help in navigating this overarching change in lifestyle. Even though, as a facilitator, I don’t spend time having my particular issues brainstormed, every participant’s issues and insights help me with mine. This is the brilliance and beauty of a Master Mind.

Our next session starts tomorrow, September 29th. If you can use some support and accountability in the quest to manage your clutter, please click on the link above and join us!

Habits

Habits

The other day, a writer I follow on Instagram (hellbentonbliss) posted the following quote by author Octavia Butler:

Octavia Butler, October 2005

Octavia Butler, October 2005

“Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”

This quote absolutely sang to my soul.

As a person who is in the School of Wisdom, for whom decision-making can be angst-ridden to the nth degree, habit is a godsend. It eliminates the need to deliberately think about every action I take.

We all have basic habits, such as brushing our teeth, or exercising, or walking the dog before breakfast. For me, some of those habits were drilled into me as a child, and I haven’t really thought about them since. Others, such as exercising, are the result of a deliberate choice. Making exercise a habit means I don’t stop and think about whether or not to do it every day. It’s just part of the program.

But I can easily slip into some less-than-helpful habits, too. These aren’t habits that I have deliberately chosen, and practiced until they have become automatic. They are the easy-way-around habits, such as diddling on Facebook rather than painting. Replacing such a ‘lazy/comfort’ habit with something more meaningful requires me to think, choose, act, and repeat. Repeat until that deliberate choice becomes automatic.

Thinking and choosing, taking small steps in the right direction, then taking those steps over and over again, has been helping me create new habits around one of my concerns of long standing: managing my clutter. If clutter is an issue for you, too, master coach extraordinaire Mary McDowall and I have created a unique way to approach your habits as they relate to your stuff—our upcoming KMI Master Mind, Creative Clutter Clearing: 10 C’s to Move You from Chaos to Calm. You can learn more about it here.

This Master Mind can create a life-altering transformation of your relationship with your possessions. It’s supportive, filled with tips and tools, and it’s actually fun. Oh, and there are some impressive early bird goodies if you register by Friday, September 23rd!serif-circle-emboss-inner-glow-stroke-dark-purple

Open House

Open House

Several weeks ago, I took a look at the topic of awareness in the context of some serious social issues—sexism and racism.

This led me to thinking about awareness in my everyday life.

About 15 years ago, my husband and I were thinking of moving. We spent a lot of Saturdays and Sundays visiting realtors’ open houses. (This was before the days of expansive virtual tours; what we knew in advance consisted of square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and a photo or two in a newspaper ad.)

These homes were ‘staged’ to show off each house to its best advantage. Surfaces were clean and clear, walls were freshly painted, faucets and fittings were brightly polished, and accessories and paintings were artfully scattered about. We’d grab an information sheet, stroll through the rooms, and try to imagine ourselves living in that space.

After these open house visits, it was always a faint surprise to come home. We would look at our own surfaces, walls, faucets, fittings, and accessories. And our own kitchen, floors, and artwork.

It was a time of both appreciation and mild horror. In all of our open house visits, I never found a kitchen, coved ceilings, or hardwood floors—indeed, a house in general—that I liked better than my own. However, I also saw, with newly critical eyes, the shortcomings in our home—chipped paint, smudges on the cabinets, and cluttered drawers and countertops. After looking with dispassionate eyes at all of those houses for sale, I wondered what someone walking through my house would think.

before-deskIt can be a challenge for me to back up and look at my own home with objectivity, especially when it comes to my possessions. To address that issue, this spring, my business colleague, Mary McDowall, and I created and facilitated a clutter clearing mastermind. It’s based on the unique KMI model, which combines personalized attention with the Kaizen philosophy of small steps to big changes.

That mastermind experience has gradually shifted the way I deal with my stuff. The tools, resources, and group interaction the mastermind provided gave me the push I needed. It was a gentle nudge towards creating an environment that suits me. And as a co-facilitator, my issues weren’t even directly addressed! Such is the power (and collective benefit) of this process.after-desk

If clutter is an issue for you, I invite you to explore our KMI Mastermind, Creative Clutter Clearing: 10 C’s to Move You from Chaos to Calm. You can check it out here.

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?