Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Tuesdays’ Business: Decision Making

Last week I alluded to a situation where I had to make a decision regarding the future direction of my business and how that situation caused me to think quite a bit about the meaning of success.  This week I wanted to share with you some aspects to consider in decision making.

Intuition

When I first started my business and someone would make a suggestion or offer an idea on an item to sell (“have you consider making/selling…?”) I often took their idea to heart, came home, and tried to make whatever it was.  I was eager to please and, frankly, thought if I could make something that would sell and make some money, even better.

But what I rarely did was listen to my inner wisdom, my inner self, my intuition.

I understand that for many people the idea of listening to the little voice inside is all woo-woo hooey.  I know; I’ve been there.  Yet what usually happened when I’m make widget suggestion #54 is I’d find myself thinking “why am I doing this?” or “I really don’t want to do this.”  And I’d still ignore that little voice and plug along, make a few of widget suggestion #54, take them to the store and…they wouldn’t sell.

Now maybe it was my choice in colors or maybe it was the price or maybe it was the energy that went into the piece wasn’t very positive and therefore it didn’t generate much interest.  So I’d eventually remove widget suggestion #54 from the store and think to myself “now what the heck am I going to do with these?”

Now when someone presents me with widget suggestion #93 or #94 or whatever, I thank them for their suggestion and tell them I’ll have to think about it.  9 times out of 10 I don’t act on the suggestion because it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t excite me, or it simply doesn’t fit my into my lines of art.

The situation I referenced last week required much more thought than one might give to creating a widget.  I found myself reflecting on the offer and going deep into my thoughts.  In this situation several questions were key:

How does it make you feel?  And not just externally but deep inside.  Do you get excited or do you get a pit in your stomach?  When you picture yourself pursuing the option, what do you see?  Again, how does it make you feel?

Listening to your inner voice, your intuition, really can help guide you down a more positive path.  Odds are you’ll be much happier with yourself.  The big catch here is that whichever way you go (listen to intuition or don’t listen to intuition) you have to move forward and not look back.  Learning from a decision is one thing.  Regretting a decision is something else entirely.  I don’t believe in regrets.  What is done is done; you can’t go backwards so there is no point in worrying about it.

Finances

It is always important to consider the financial ramifications in making business decisions.  The first question most of us ask is “Can I afford it?” or perhaps “Can I afford not to do it?”  I do believe that if we wish to pursue an opportunity, we will find a way to afford it.

When it involves production work, you need to break things down even further.  How many widgets can I make per hour, day, week in order to cover my costs?  Will assistance be required?  Will you pay for assistance?  How many widgets would I need to sell in order to break even or possibly make a profit?

You may also want to think about the best case and worst case scenarios.

In other words, look at the situation from as many angles as possible.

Consultation

If you can, talk to other artists who may have dealt with similar situations or who are in similar situations.  Try to get the pros and the cons.  Write down your questions. Listen objectively.  And then take what you’ve learned and toss it into the decision making bowl.

In The End

Decision making is indeed a personal process influenced by many aspects.  As I get older, I’m learning that listening to my inner voice is just as important as other tangible factors.  In some respects, listening to my inner voice is more important, depending on the situation.  Whatever process you take, do it with confidence.


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Celebrate

I recently started reading Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally by Patti Digh.  The book came about when Patti’s stepfather died 37 days after being diagnosed with cancer.  This event caused her to realize that “living your best life doesn’t mean ditching your job and sailing around the world-it means living each individual, glorious, simple day with more intention.”

In the book, Patti shares life stories that illustrate and celebrate “six core practices for living without regrets: say yes, be generous, speak up, love more, trust yourself, and slow down.”

One of my favorite activities in the book thus far is celebrating small things, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post on success.  To celebrate the small things, Patti has a great suggestion: birthday candles.  Why use birthday candles just for birthdays?  Why not use birthday candles to celebrate your accomplishments, your successes, your achievements.

To all those people out there who shared their successes after reading yesterday’s post; to all those people who made a mental note and patted themselves on the back for small successes, to all those people who said silently or aloud Woo-hoo, light a birthday candle and celebrate!

This one is for you!

CELEBRATE YOUR FEELING OF SUCCESS

CELEBRATE YOUR FEELING OF SUCCESS


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Tuesday’s Business: What is Success?

This post is prompted by a possibility that the universe brought to me.  A possibility to significantly increase my wholesale business.  And in the course of conversation with various people, a question was also presented to me:

What is success?

Ironically, when I was listening to an Eric Maisel podcast last week, Maisel said the following:

Success is not a measure but a feeling.

These words have made me pause and have factored into my decision making process regarding this situation.

Each one of us, potentially, has a different definition of success.  It might be defined monetarily.  It might be defined by the size of your house or by a job title.  However, Maisel’s definition of success opens up many more possibilities.

If success is a feeling and not a measure, then success can come from that great dinner you made on Sunday, from playing with your kids, or from the wonderful construction idea you developed for your newest piece of art.

It can come from any accomplishment, small or large.

I think where we getted tripped up as a society and as individuals is not recognizing, not acknowledging, the small things we do everyday.  Did you empty the dishwasher?  Congratulations to you!  Did you take a baby step toward an overall goal? Excellent, pat yourself on the back.  Did you get out of bed without tossing your alarm clock?  Woo-hoo!

Sound silly?  I thought so too…until I realized that if I don’t, if we don’t acknowledge the small things we achieve every day who will?

Is it possible to get carried away with this approach?  Maybe, but I bet you’ll have fun doing it.  Think of it as a form of self-care.

As I’ve been contemplating this possibility, I’ve taken time to reflect on my accomplishments and feelings of success.  This has helped me to define what success means to me and what it means for my business.  And it definitely factors into my decision making process.

I’ve asked myself and now I ask you: Are you feeling successful?


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Tuesday’s Business: Take Action

Needless to say, the current economic situation continues to affect many of us.  I’ve mentioned how my business has slowed down and I know I’m not the only artist impacted by the economic downturn.  An article even appeared in the Boston Globe that discussed the financial impact many artists are experiencing.

Certainly seeing and hearing all this news takes its toll…or makes any blue feelings you have seem even worse.  Yet I couldn’t accept that the lack of wholesale orders or consignment sales was the only thing contributing to my blue mood.

And then I listened to Eric Maisel’s podcast on Purpose and Action.  Maisel’s weekly podcast is called The Purpose Centered Life: A Plan for Authentic Living.  I recently subscribed to the entire series and have been listening to the podcast almost every day.

Purpose and Action, the 7th episode of a 9 part podcast on how purpose heals depression and the relationships between creativity, meaning, and depression, hit a cord.  I realized what was missing and what was contributing to my blue state: action (or lack thereof.)

Now this might sound simple enough but the reality is when you’re feeling down, getting going isn’t easy.  I’ve been keeping slightly busy in the studio (and maybe too much time on the computer), making a little something here and there, to keep my product inventory filled.  Yet it hasn’t felt like enough.  As Eric Maisel said, we all keep busy, but the difference between being busy and taking action is how it feels in our heart.  This busy-ness wasn’t feeling right in my heart.

For whatever reason, when I picked up the clay last week with a purpose in mind, my mood changed.  The clay felt different in my hands.  I remember a little voice popping into my head that said “this feels good” and “you’re making things again; this feels right.”

Maybe it was a hormonal shift.  Maybe it was an attitudinal shift.

Taking action can come in many forms: making dinner, reading to your kids, talking with your spouse, playing with your cat or dog, making art in the studio, or working on your novel.

Yet at other times these same actions feel like busy-work.  We tell ourselves we are avoiding creative work and squandering our time.  I’ve frequently told myself that production work is indeed busy-work; a no-brainer task.  And when that voice loop plays over and over in my head, I start to feel blue and I fight the production work.  I whine to myself that I “have no time to work on my spirit messengers” or how I “can’t get myself to work on my true desire.”

However, that isn’t really true.  All I have to do is put it on my schedule; to block off time to work on a spirit messenger or other piece of art.

But instead it is sometimes easier to blame myself.  We creative folks tend to berate ourselves and sometimes we’re damn good at it.

What we really need is more action.  We must move forward.  As Eric Maisel points out, Our actions are our accomplishments.

To take action, I’ve returned to blocking off time each day for particular tasks and commitments.  I intend to stick with this approach because it works for me.  In other words, lack of structure makes me feel directionless.  And when I’m not creating, in whatever form that creativity takes, I become a cranky person (just ask the hubby.)

I recently started working with a creativity coach.  Our focus these first few weeks has been on affirmations.  I had to work through a bit of dirt that arose to the surface before I could create affirmations that are meaningful to me.  Now I have a stack of affirmations that I read through each day; sometimes several times a day.  And when the negative voice pokes me and tries to get a word in edgewise, I remember certain affirmations and silently repeat them.

I’ve also been emailing my goals each week to a few people.  In turn, they share their goals for the week with me.  We check in on our progress at the end of the week or the beginning of the next week.  Many of our goals are small steps/accomplishments that lead to larger accomplishments.  Karen introduced me to the word Kaizen which is a Japanese term for making little changes on a regular basis.  Now three of us practice Kaizen.

The hardest thing about taking action is doing it.  It is much easier to give a heavy sigh, cue the tiny violins, get hooked, and feel sorry for yourself.  I know sometimes you need a pity-party.  The best suggestion I heard was to give yourself 15 minutes to *itch and then to pick yourself up and think about how to remedy the situation.  Or dip your toe back in the pool and engage in something creative.  (I admit that the pity-party sometimes lasts all day for me and, personally, that is okay too.  I get it all out of my system and start fresh the next day.)

But slowly, by taking action, even in small steps, you find meaning and purpose.  It may start with 15 minutes of writing or color blending or sketching; soon that 15 minutes becomes 30 minutes and then an hour.  Remember, baby steps.  Make little changes, take small actions, on a regular basis.

I also suggest registering for Dayle Doroshow’s Master Class with Alison Lee on Craftcast on Monday, October 20.  The name of the class is Creative Sparks and I’m sure Dayle will have great tips for getting out of a rut and for taking action.

What techniques do you use to take action?


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Quotable Monday

I think we stand between two historic ages,
when a critical mass of the human race
is trying to detach from its obedience to fear-based thought systems.
We want to cross over to someplace new.

As we cross the bridge to a more loving orientation,
as we learn the lessons of spiritual transformation
and apply them to our personal lives,
we will become agents of change on a tremendous scale.

-Marianne Williamson
The Gift of Change


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Milagros Spirit Icon: Mouth

Our Words Are As Good As Our Deeds

The third Milagros Spirit Icon in this series is the mouth (or lips/mouth.)  Our mouths are portals through which we express our feelings and thoughts and through which we receive sustenance.  A mouth Milagros represents words and language.  In Milagros tradition, representation of mouths and lips is rarer than other body parts.

Mouth Milagros are used to cure both tangible and anxiety-created problems.  Mouth Milagros are a symbol of the sacred trust you have with your own body.  When you eat, contemplate your meal and ensure that the food you eat is nutritious.  When you speak, listen to yourself.  Consider that what you say is a reminder to others of your thoughts and beliefs.  Never underestimate the effect your words may have.

Mouth

Milagros Spirit Icon: Mouth


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A Gold Star Day

Today is my 45th birthday.  I’m not sure if I ever thought about being in my forties when I was younger.  You know, when you’re in your 20’s and your 40’s sound so far away.  Actually, I like being in my 40’s.  It feels like an age that fits me.  In your 20’s you’re busy trying to figure out who you are.  In your 30’s you’re trying to forget your 20’s and the dumb things you did.  And then the 40’s came and I finally felt comfortable with who I am.

A few weeks ago I was writing in  my journal on some random thoughts that crept in while I was feeling blue.  I was thinking about default triggers, those random thoughts, beliefs, or feelings that pop into your head, that are set off by some button that was triggered.

In my thoughts I went way back to grade school to consider what made me happy as a child and when I had my first encounter with an adult who squashed my creative impulses.  During this stroll down memory lane I remembered my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Sibley and how we celebrated birthdays in her class.  How I loved Mrs. Sibley’s class.  She was kind and caring and mostly patient with us 5 and 6 year old kids.

Kindergarten was a new and fascinating experience.  I was proud that I didn’t cry when my Mom dropped me off on the first day of school.  I remember the cloak room with individual hooks for hanging our coats and spaces for our winter boots.  The cloak room had dark wood panel walls.  Funny that I can still see the grain of the wood.

Birthday Crown

Our classroom was bright with lots of windows and it was always decorated for every season and holiday.  And when we celebrated birthdays, the birthday boy or girl sat in the middle of a circle while Mrs. Sibley led the class in singing Happy Birthday.  And on the birthday boy’s or girl’s head she placed a construction paper crown.  On the crown she had written your age and surround it with colored foil stars.  After singing happy birthday we shared treats of cupcakes or cookies brought in by our mothers or another family member.

Those were the best birthdays.

After recalling this memory, I was struck by how great it felt on those gold star days.  Not just because you were the center of attention for a period of time but for the happiness that came from wearing that crown.  Not just from wearing that crown but for the sense of accomplishment that came from seeing the foil stars.  Wow! This is big. This day is important.

And then I thought, why isn’t every day be a gold star day?  A day where everything we do, no matter how big or small, gives us a sense of accomplishment.

And how do we get that sense of accomplishment?  Through gratitude, through appreciation, through smiling at strangers and at ourselves. By telling someone you love them. By scooping the cat’s litter box. By laughing, even though you want to yell, when your child does something irritating. By not honking or not giving the finger to the driver that cut you off.

I’ve made “Have a Gold Star Day” one of my mantras.  I posted it inside my medicine cabinet so I’ll see it every morning and every night.  It reminds me to find accomplishment in all I do.  It reminds me to be grateful and appreciative.  And yes, it reminds me of my birthday crown.


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Presidential Debate Doodles

On the night of the first Presidential Debate, I followed some advice from Robert Dancik and spent that time sketching while watching the debate on CNN.  (Robert suggested during a workshop to sketch to music that you don’t normally listen to.)  The result was four pages of doodles, sketches, and words, and one page of four faces.  I then took the various images and words from those pages and transferred them to a piece gessoed paper bag.

I highly recommend trying this as a creativity challenge.  If nothing else, it decreases your stress while watching the debate, makes the time go by quicker, and may generate ideas for future projects.

Prez Debate 1

Prez Debate 1

Upper Left

Upper Left

Upper Right

Upper Right

Drop Me Down The Vortex

Drop Me Down The Vortex

Lower Left

Lower Left

Lower Right

Lower Right

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