Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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A Year of Mindfulness: Procrastination

Now this is an interesting mindfulness practice following last week’s practice about being on time. Perhaps one is related to the other in some way?

This week’s mindfulness practice asks us to become aware of procrastination.

Procrastination is putting off something that needs to be done. With this practice we are asked to look at procrastination in two ways: the method we use to delay doing something and what we do about it. Other aspects to consider are what leads us to procrastinate and the strategies we use to modify or overcome the procrastination.

Sometimes we procrastinate because our inner critic appears just as we attempt to complete an activity. That negative voice speaks up, criticizes us, and we put off the activity.

Sometimes we make up excuses, such as telling ourselves if X or Y wasn’t getting in the way, we’d have time to do the particular activity. Yet if we look at how we are using our time, we’d be surprised (or not) that we’re really wasting time.

Sometimes we procrastinate by spending time gathering materials for a project or waiting for the “perfect” moment to begin.

Do you see yourself in any of these examples?

For myself, I sometimes procrastinate out of fear. Fear of taking that first step. Fear of failing. Sometimes I procrastinate because the task at hand is something I really don’t want to do. In my head it feels easier to put it off. Unfortunately, it sits on my to-do list for several days taunting me until I deal with it.

What is the antidote to our procrastination? Simply doing it. That is, taking responsibility for the task and getting it done. Put it at the top of the to-do list and deal with it first thing in the morning.

As with many of the topics of past mindfulness practices and those things we avoid, procrastination causes us to suffer. Think about how you feel when you put off a task for days at a time. The dread you may feel about doing a task only gets worse the longer you put it off.

This week, become aware of the tasks you put off. Become aware of what causes you to procrastinate. Then consider how you can break that cycle.

Reflection: Procrastination is the bad habit of putting of until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday. -Napoleon Hill


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A Year of Mindfulness: Be On Time

Good Monday dear readers. Here in the states we are preparing for the Thanksgiving Holiday this week. A time for gathering with family or friends, giving thanks for all that is abundant in our lives, sharing good food, and enjoying some football games.

It is rather ironic that this week’s mindfulness practice focuses on time-being on time. Thanksgiving Day can be a day of rushing around, driving to our destinations and scarfing down too much food. Heck, just the run up to the big feast day can be fraught with anxiety as we gather ingredients for recipes, wine or beer for the celebration, and coordinating all the activities.

But what if we practiced being on time this week? What if we were mindful of not only our time but others time as well?

Here are some things to consider with this practice:

  • What does “being on time” mean to you?
  • What arises in your mind when you are late?
  • What arises in your mind when other people are late?

We all know people who are always on time for events or arrive before an event starts. And we all know people who are “perpetually late” for everything. Some people prefer being on time and grow irritated with those who arrive late. Some people arrive late because they don’t like to wait for an event to begin or they feel awkward if they are the first person to arrive for a meeting or party.

Though this week’s practice relates to time, it is also about mind-states and habitual patterns. What Dr. Bays’ refers to as the “constructed self.” If we think highly of ourselves, we may begin to think that our time is worth more than other people’s time. So we’re the last to arrive because “we have so many important things to do” and don’t want to waste our time sitting around and chatting.

Or maybe we’re terribly shy. We arrive late so we don’t have to look people in the eye, find a place to sit, and initiate conversation.

And then there is the favorite response “there is never enough time” or “I need more time.” Well, how much time would be enough? How much time would be too much?

When it comes to time, we divide our life into chunks-chunks called time. Time of the future, time of the past.

What about-you know what I’m going to say-the present moment?

When we are not thinking and are simply aware, the present moment is all that there is. Time becomes irrelevant. When we live in more awareness than in thinking, time seems to adjust so that there is exactly enough time for each thing to be accomplished.

This week, practice being on time. Practice being in the present moment-for the present moment is all that there is.

Reflection: In the present moment, there is always plenty of time. -Unknown

And, of course-I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye. I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. -The White Rabbit


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A Year of Mindfulness-Listen Like a Sponge

Namaste dear readers. I apologize for not being present these past few weeks. After my last post on 10/5/12, I dove head first into intensive art show preparations. When I am in that mode my commitment to blogging often falls to the side. That is what happened here. My mindfulness practice was focusing on creating art. And, quite frankly, I am not very skilled at multi-tasking any more. When I direct most of my energy to a specific project, it stays there.

So, let’s begin again and pick up where I left off. Our last mindfulness practice focused on the wind. This week we are asked to practice listening.

This Week’s Practice: Listen Like A Sponge

Oh I do enjoy this practice, especially when our lives can be dominated by technology, especially mobile phones & iPads.

With this practice, we are asked to listen to other people as if we are sponges, soaking up whatever the other person has to say. This means to not just give someone your full attention when they speak. It also means that you not form any responses in your mind until a response is requested or needed.

Uh oh, that means keeping your mind quiet when someone is talking to you. Something that does not come naturally to most of us.

Seriously, how often does your mind wander when someone else is talking to you? Be honest. You might be thinking about the speaker’s hair cut, the clothes they’re wearing, or how you wish they’d speak faster because you need to get home.

And with mobile phones and iPads, how often do you find yourself twiddling around with either device when someone is talking to you? Are you really giving them your full attention if you’re also reading your email?

Listening like a sponge is also known as “absorptive listening.” You have to make the mind and body still.

It is quite normal for most of us to “check out” when someone else is talking. Observe yourself when someone talks to you. How many times does your mind drift? Make a mental note of it. Then try to catch yourself when your mind drifts and bring your thoughts back to the speaker. You can be aware of your own thoughts but try not to be disturbed by them and let them take over.

Consider as well how you feel when someone is listening to you like a sponge. How does it feel to be witnessed by someone else?

This week, listen when someone is talking to you. Truly listen. Absorb their words like a sponge. Give them your undivided attention.

Reflection: We shall practice listening so attentively that we are able to hear what the other is saying-and also what is left unsaid. We know that by listening deeply we already alleviate a great deal of pain and suffering in others. -Buddhist recitation for invoking compassion


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Solopreneur Wednesday: You Gotta Spend Money to Make Money and Fighting Limiting Beliefs

Do you have limiting beliefs about money?

You know what I did with mine today? I ripped them up , set them on fire, and then drowned them.

Fighting Limiting Beliefs About Money

Last week I revisited the moola making chapter in Jennifer Lee’s book, The Right Brain Business Plan. Though we’re already half way through the year, it’s never a bad time to reassess money making opportunities in your business. Of course, if you’re reassessing where you’re making money, you must give equal time to where you’re spending money.

Ick.

Money is, for many solopreneurs, a double-edged sword. You have to spend money to make money. But sometimes it is hard to spend that money if you don’t know when you’ll make back the money that you just spent.

This was the limiting belief that hit me square in the head last week. It has been following me around for quite a while too.

Limiting beliefs. Quirky little buggers. Especially when it comes to money.

Where do these beliefs come from? Some of them most likely form when we’re kids. We pick up on these beliefs from our parents or other adults in our little kid life. We observe how our parents handle money-both the saving and the spending aspects. We take a little from that time period, form our own ideas as we get older, have a good experience or a bad experience and then the whole mess gets mixed up in a great big cauldron called our mind.

Groovy.

Until it starts to bubble and froth and spews forth at any time while trying to run our small business.

Make a List. Check it Twice. Then chuck it.

I’ve been in business for several years. And my beliefs about money aren’t nearly as overbearing as they were at one time. But there are still some that rest in those dark recesses. And when it comes to looking hard at “the numbers,” guess who pops up?

Right.

Before being able to move forward with setting new money making goals, you need to understand what is holding you back. You may not know why, but at least giving those limiting beliefs a name can help.

Set aside some time to do this task. Get a pad of paper and a pen. I like to put on some instrumental music. But maybe you’d prefer something a bit more head-bangy metallic? Take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself what your limiting beliefs are about money. Ask yourself why the thought of spending money in your business gives you the heebie-jeebies. Ask why the thought of accepting money for your product or service makes you feel light-headed.

And then let ‘er rip. Write it all down. Don’t worry about good grammar or spelling. Just go with the flow. Keep writing until those negative thoughts stop or slow down to a trickle.

(If the thought of writing this down causes your brain to freeze or you draw a complete blank when you look at your sheet of paper, try doodling or making little symbols on the paper. Perhaps single words will start to trickle out and then an avalanche of words and phrases. There is no “right” or “wrong” here. I believe the act of writing can be cathartic. Something about getting your hand moving across the page. But if you prefer to type this out on your computer, that is okay too. Do what works best for you.)

When you’re done with your list, look it over. Read it. Then set it aside.

The Turn Around

Now you don’t want those limiting beliefs to sit there and stare at you. No way. Now you need to turn them around.

Yes, this can be a little tricky because you want to make a negative into a positive. (Don’t worry, no funny math or physics formulas required.) Take another deep breath, look those limiting beliefs in their beady little eyes and flip the words into a positive affirmation.

I mentioned that one of my limiting beliefs is “I’m afraid to spend money because I don’t know when I’ll make back the money that I just spent.”

My turn around for this: “I make more money than I can spend.”

Now, on a clean piece of paper, write down a positive statement for every negative, limiting belief you wrote on that other piece of paper. When you’ve written all your positive affirmations, set that piece of paper aside.

And that sheet of paper with the limiting beliefs? Get rid of it! Shred it, burn it, flush it down the toilet, or put it in the compost bin. Make a fun ritual out of it. Just don’t keep it around for long because you don’t want the negative energy from those limiting beliefs to sit and fester.

A Brand New Day

After you get rid of that negative, limiting belief sheet of paper, make sure you keep your positive affirmations in a spot where you can read them every day. Maybe you read them two or three times a day. Whatever works.

How do you feel?

Will this bring money flowing through your door immediately? Probably not. However, I do believe that great things happen unexpectedly. Putting that positive energy out into the Universe can be a good thing.

You still need to do your work, make your connections, sell your product or service.

But understanding your limiting beliefs and how to turn them around can make this solopreneur gig a lot easier.

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Leave a comment below and share how you confront limiting beliefs.


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Soloprenuer Wednesday: Business Values

So you’re working along at your little business, maybe it’s just a hobby, maybe it’s just a great idea. And someone asks you “why are you doing that?” Or perhaps they say “You want to do what?” (And why is the emphasis always on the last word?)

Have you asked yourself why you’re doing this little business you’ve started?

Dreams and Visions

In my last Soloprenuer Wednesday post, An Introduction, I ended with it by saying I had no idea what I was doing when I sold my jewelry to my first customer. I was stunned that someone wanted to buy my jewelry when I hadn’t planned to sell anything. Guess I was just in the right place at the right time.

So I made up a price on the spot (or shortly thereafter when I brought more pieces for her to look at.) I certainly didn’t know much about how to correctly price a product back then. But I’ll save the pricing discussion for a future post.

After selling a few pieces of jewelry to this person, she asked me if I could make something for a friend. Sure, why not. I can do that. Toss out another price. Isn’t this cool, my ego tells me, you’ve got your first customer who thinks your work is great and you’ll do anything to keep selling stuff to her.

Sure, great, but where is this taking me? Did I really enjoy making all this jewelry?

And what do I do now with all these extra pieces when my first customer tells me that she’s being laid-off and can’t buy my work any more?

My ego was very disappointed.

Having an idea of what I wanted to do with my art might have prepared me a bit better.

Visions and Values

It’s possible that had I mapped out a plan before landing my first customer, it would’ve been quite some time before I sold a piece of anything. It’s possible that if I waited for perfection, I might never sell anything. I’m not saying that what happened in my case is the wrong way to do it. Serendipity has a way of presenting itself whether we’re ready or not. I am suggesting that having an idea or vision about why you want to sell your art (or whatever your product is) can make life a little easier.

How do you do that?

One way to understand why you are jumping into this little business of you’ve started is to think about values-values that are important to you and in a business. This can include any number of things from loyalty to honesty, community to connection, good customer service, hard work to happiness. Look at companies you admire. What values do they promote?

Think about times in your life when you felt fully alive. Who were you being in those moments? What was going on around you? How can you bring those elements into your business?

Make a list of all those values. Are there any themes you notice?

Knowing your core values helps you make better business decisions because those values are honored in the decision making process.

Lessons Learned

Reflecting back on those early days, I think my only value then was to make as much money as possible. However the luster of making money wore off at some point.

Why?

Because I eventually learned that if my values were not reflected in my work, then my work lacked meaning. I got tired of making functional art items. I didn’t enjoy making.

I realized that there was more to running a business than just making money.

It would’ve taken quite a bit for me back then to say “I’m sorry, I’m not selling my art at this time” or to turn down a commission piece. Now I know better because I make those decisions in conjunction with my values.

What values are important to you in running your small business?


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March Slump

It has been a little quiet here at Musings from the Moonroom. While some experience March Madness, I’ve been going through a bit of a slump and not feeling very chatty these last few weeks. This usually happens to me during the month of February. Something to do with the grey weather I suppose.

This time my March Doldrums had nothing to do with the weather. It had more to do with disappoint in plans I made. Plans that never materialized or didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. One disappointment after another left me wallowing in self-pity. I started to question myself and my plans. “What’s the point?” I’d ask. “Why bother anymore. I did what ‘the experts’ suggested and still nothing happened.”

I definitely exceeded my recommended 15 minute pity-party. In fact, I was starting to have a pity festival!

This attitude was not conducive to creating.

In place of creating, I attended Jennifer Lee’s 10 day Right Brainers in Business Video Summit which was a fun event. This was Jen’s second year hosting the summit. It features a different speaker each day accompanied by a chat feature. The event is free and you have access to the videos for 48 hours after the live event. Jenn also offers two different upgrade options that give you unlimited access to the videos and other goodies.

This year’s speakers included Mark Silver, Lindsay Wilson, David Goldsmith, Tara Gentile, Hiro Boga, Elizabeth Marshall, Alison Marks, Jeremie Miller, Chelsea Moser, and Jen Louden. Topics ranged from heart-centered selling, social media, and legal basics to earning money, spirituality in business, organization and technology.

Some of my take-aways from this event:

  • make a connection
  • post on Facebook in the morning & ask a question
  • if you need a lawyer, get all your thoughts down on paper first
  • know what sells
  • know how much you make
  • be comfortable with the value of your product or service
  • tap into the wisdom of your inner resources
  • what do you want to achieve with your marketing?
  • define what your organizing first
  • what is your message?
  • a lousy first draft is better than no draft
  • you need to invest in yourself first in order to grow
  • look at each day; are you trying to do too much?

Bench Pressing Away the Doldrums

That last point (are you trying to do too much?) was made a few times during the summit by different speakers. The more I heard it, the more I realized that part of my problem was trying to do too much. I realized that while I was spreading my attention over at least five areas in my business, I had drifted from my original focus for the year. And we all know that when you try to divide your energy over too many areas, something is going to suffer.

During this time I also pulled out my materials from Christine Kane’s Uplevel Your Life workshop. I took the workshop in 2009. I’m sure Christine has made some changes and upgrades since then, but the basic bones of the program remain consistent. I started to get clearer on my intention for myself and my business. I returned to writing my gratitudes, gifts, and gains. And I started de-cluttering (the infamous, never ending clutter; it’s not just physical clutter either.)

In just a few short days, I began to feel my doldrums lift. Energy started to shift back to the positive and opportunities started to present themselves. The last 10 days have felt a bit more manageable. And I have started creating again (updates soon to follow.)

Bench pressing away the doldrums didn’t come easy. Some days it felt like I was pushing 500lb weights off my spirit. I really was concerned about staying stuck in this mindset. I simply had to kick myself in the pants, listen to my inner voice, and get clear on what I was doing and where I was going. Will the rest of the year be easy-going? Probably not. But I’m hopeful that putting some systems into place will make any future doldrums a little easier to bear.


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Dr. Funk Meet Mr. Wall

Green Puffer Fish Ornimal, Amy A Crawley, 2011, Sold

Ever since the Artspace show wrapped up, I’ve been in a bit of a funk. The show was a huge success; best show I’ve done in a couple of years. Attendance appeared to be up. The Ornimals sold well. The functional art sold well. I added new people to my customer contact list. I came home tired from a job well done.

Riding the High

I was excited when I came home. The doom and gloom of the past year, in terms of the economy, seemed to be a distant memory. I even received a few last minute orders for more Ornimals. And then I sat.

I know from past experience that it can take me a couple of days to get back into the swing of things. It’s that time when you’re coming down from one event and preparing for the next event. Dr. Anne Paris, author of Standing at Water’s Edge refers to this period as “moving out of immersion.” Moving in and out of immersive states is a normal part of creation.

Yet that didn’t help me from feeling overwhelmed with filling the last few orders before the holidays. And then there were the other things on my to-do list that also needed to be addressed. Those things that I’d put off while getting ready for the ArtSpace show. And there were appointments that I’d made too.

I’d look at my to-do list, look at the clock, try to get myself out of my chair, and succumb to the computer instead. Funk had met the wall.

Resolution

Now this time wasn’t completely unproductive. Because of the success of the Ornimals, I started investigating new display options. I made notes about target markets & how to better market the Ornimals in 2012. And I did catch up on a couple things that I put on the back-burner in the run-up to the show.

But in my head, especially at night, I’d berate myself for not putting my hands back into the clay. The negative voice loomed large in my head. I questioned everything I was doing whether it was related to art, business or not. I felt like I’d run smack into a wall. Everything on my list seemed “too big” to accomplish and I was only destined to fail.

On Monday I decided to take a walk. It wasn’t exceptionally long (that is becoming a little less desirable as the temperature gets colder.) But it was enough to clear my head and improve my attitude.

It only took me a week to get there.

I spent this entire week working on the special orders. Two were shipped out today. I hope to have the last piece in a final order completed next week. I need to keep riding this wave of momentum and do the work. Resistance is futile.

Then it will be Christmas and New Years. Time for a welcome break…before it all starts up again.

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