Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Creativity Coaching

I mentioned yesterday that along with my spring show season ending, the Creativity Coaching training workshop I took with Eric Maisel also ended this week.  I am happy to announce that I successfully completed the training and am now ready to move forward with creativity coaching as an adjunct to my art business.

I participated in the training class last year as a free client when I was trying to decide if coaching was something that I might be interested in pursuing.  This winter, I decided I wanted to learn more about the coaching process and dove in with both feet.  The class was great and a wonderful learning experience. And I learned a bit about myself in the process while helping and coaching clients toward their goals.

During this time I also started working with Lisa Sonora-Beam’s book The Creative Entrepreneur. Using Lisa’s prompts in my visual journal, I came to realize that I’d love to host retreats for women that focus on art, creativity, and spirituality.  I’ve even jotted down a name for these potential retreats.

Would such a retreat be of interest to you?

For now, I’m targeting the fall as a time begin offering my coaching services. If this might interest you, let me know.

New Websites

Over the last few months I began working on two new websites for my art. I decided to separate my functional, production art from my fine art. These two lines are quite different and often target two different audiences.   I felt that having  both lines on one website was confusing to potential customers.  And frankly, I just didn’t like the way it looked.

Here are the links to these new websites:

Amy A. Crawley Fine Art

Moonroom Crafts

I’m also working on accepting payments for orders via PayPal and plan to have that information added to both sites shortly.


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Starting Over

…And all you want to do is stay in bed.
…And all you want to do is nothing all day.
But if you do that you’d be missing the world
because it doesn’t stop turning whenever you want.
You have to get up, get out and get gone
…and have some fun
…and get living

The Cure
“Gone” from Wild Mood Swings

I was completely exhausted by 6pm this past Saturday after the completion of my second art show in two consecutive weeks. That shouldn’t be any surprise as this second show was an event that I helped organize for our local art guild.  Compared to preparing for the Paradise City show, our guild show was relatively easy. I just didn’t realize how low I was starting run and it all caught up with me on Saturday evening.  As they say “Stick a fork in it…it is done!”

The curious thing that happens, though, after putting so much energy into these events is the post-show let down. All I’ve wanted to do for the last couple of days is sleep. My energy and motivation to get much done as been pretty low. I know I should heed what my body is telling me.

I think this let down is more intense, however, as several other events also drew to a close this week.  My seven weeks in Christine Kane’s Uplevel Your Life Mastery Program ended on Sunday. My 16 week Creativity Coaching training course with Eric Maisel also winds down this week. So many things ending at once. No wonder I want to sleep.

During these last few weeks I let slide several other things, like blogging, cleaning and clearing the clutter, Twittering (okay, maybe not such a bad thing to not spend a lot of time there) and some emails. My focus was singular: shows and shows.

One thing I’m not doing is beating myself up over the slippage. It doesn’t do me or anyone else any good. So I let some things slide; life happens. And now I start over.

Starting over began on Sunday by completing my weekly Sunday Summit which I didn’t do during all the show prep. This is a great little tool that asks you several questions about the previous week. You review your accomplishments, your blocks, you do a little self-coaching, and then you set priorities for the coming week.

Monday I returned to clearing and cleaning by setting aside 30 minutes to repack all my show stuff. Normally I might let that sit for a week or more. Not this time. This afternoon I’m sitting here looking at a nice clear studio floor. I have a few sniggly bits to clean up but otherwise everything is put away until the fall shows. Getting that stuff out of the way feels really good.

Continuing along the clearing and cleaning line I finally completed the list of donation items I’m giving to the Arts Alliance. I intended to deliver these items early in May. Ouch; talk about procrastinating. I’ll pack up those goodies as soon as I finish this post. Another item checked off the list.

With the end of the Uplevel Class, I’m going back to Day 1 and starting the course again. I plan to re-read one lesson each day. I’ve blocked off time to review my affirmations twice a day and am trying to return to daily journal writing at night. The summer is a great time to work on some new habits.

There are a few events coming up that I need to get ready for as well: submitting pieces for the Canvas Project, working on my submission for the Historical Interpretation Exhibit, and, most importantly, my trip to Southern France for a workshop with Dayle Doroshow.

I’m starting to feel more awake now and am definitely ready to start over, start again, and keep on plugging along.


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Joining, Meaning, and a Shift in Thinking

My coaching class has been discussing two interesting topics recently: joining and meaning.

Joining

When I think about the word ‘joining’ my first thought is to equate it with empathy. Joining, as defined in class, is the act of inhabiting a client’s universe and getting into his/her shoes. Empathy, likewise, is being able to put yourself in another person’s shoes in order to understand more fully what that person is experiencing; to identify with and understand another’s situation, feelings and motives.

Joining is being present in your interactions or encounters with people or clients. This means giving full focus to the conversation at hand, not flipping through a magazine while someone else talks to you about something important to them or not checking your email while on the phone with a friend or family member.

I know how hard this can be, especially when our society has been more focused on multi-tasking than single tasking. I’ve been working on this issue myself for a year. I know how I feel when I talk to someone on the phone and they are not giving me their full attention. (You know the signs: their voice drifts, perhaps they take longer to respond to a question…and not because they are thinking of an answer, that type of pause seems different.) When this happens to me I might get annoyed at first but then I think of how many times I’ve done this to someone else.

Remember that which we dislike in someone else is often because it is something we dislike in ourselves.

Sometimes it is easiest to experience joining with another person when you share similar interests or past experiences. You immediately engage the person, you swap stories, you relate to them. Joining is harder when the person is the complete opposite of you; different interests, different politics, different background. I know they say ‘opposites attract’ and that may be true on some level. But think of someone who, well, irks the crap out of you. How can you join or be present with them on your next encounter?

On the other hand, you also have the option of not joining with someone when all they do is complain, speak negatively, or just seem generally down on everything. Perhaps you have to leave these people behind. If this isn’t an option, try non-reaction. Just listen, maybe say ‘um-hmm’ periodically, but don’t feed into their complaints or negative attitude.

When have you experienced joining?

Meaning

Meaning goes deeper and asks us to think about what constitutes a meaningful project or activity. Instead of asking “What interests me?” or “What would I like to work on?” thinking about a meaningful project or activity requires us to ask what we are passionate about or what do we feel deeply about. Can you sense the difference?

Compare these two questions: “What would I like to work on?” versus “What passionate work would I like to do?” Which one sounds more interesting and fun? Which one is potentially more challenging and opens us to our vulnerability?

I wonder if that is why we have trouble finding meaning in our lives. To be passionate about something makes us vulnerable. And who wants to be vulnerable if that means they could be hurt or ridiculed?

As an artist it took me a while to learn that I need to make my art for me. I remember creating different products because someone suggested it; that it might be a good selling item. And what happened? They were usually poor sellers. I now believe this happened because these were items I wasn’t completely passionate about making.

This isn’t to say I’ve completely gotten over this tendency. I still struggle with this with my spirit messengers. And I believe that is because I have certain things I’m afraid to let go of. I’m afraid of being vulnerable and expressing myself through those creations I truly enjoy making and which I feel passionate about. The fear is slowly being chipped away; it does take time.

Where do you find meaning in your art?

A Shift in Thinking

I’m sure we’re all pretty tired of hearing and reading about the economy. Yet as often as I try to avoid reading or listening to the “dire situation” I couldn’t help but notice my own response to the question “How is business?” My response was “It’s slow” which was usually followed by some negative statement or something supporting the economic climate. In other words, though I claimed to be avoiding the news, I was still reinforcing it with my response.

As Christine Kane has mentioned, when the world wants us to shrink, sometimes we shrink along with it.

However, I finally had an a-ha moment regarding my answer earlier this week. I asked myself why I was telling everyone business was slow instead of telling them what I was really doing. My inner voice simply responded “I don’t know.” (No lightening bolts there.) I then thought “well, no wonder business is slow. You keep putting it out there and guess what you’re getting in return?”

Yep, slow business.

This is when the ‘a-ha’ moment happened. I asked myself how I could answer the “How’s business” question with a positive statement. And that is when I decided to shift my thinking and reply “I’m busy. I’m preparing for two shows and working on two new web sites. I’m selling my art and expanding into new stores and galleries. I’m creating new designs and putting together my first e-newsletter.”

Sounds much more positive doesn’t it?

Postscript: It took me most of this week to put this post together. That is what happens when you’re busy.


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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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Creativity and Talent

I recently started reading Eric Maisel’s newest book Creativity for Life.  Maisel’s books are always insightful whether your art is writing, acting, singing, fine arts or crafts. 

In the first chapter, Maisel defines creativity as having three elements: loving, knowing, and doing.  In other words, people are artistically creative when they love what they are doing, know what they are doing, and are actively involved in making art.

Of course we know that on any given day that is sometimes easier said than done.  We all have moments, days, weeks, months, and maybe years where we ask ourselves “why am I doing this?”  We tell ourselves we don’t know what we’re doing.  We avoid getting our butt into the chair.

In this first chapter Maisel does an excellent job of describing just that conversation.  We tell ourselves we love what we’re doing and then become dismayed when someone else creates something similar and receives sudden recognition.  Perhaps we set our standards so high and compare ourselves to the masters in our field that nothing we do can compare.  We kill our self-esteem and question our talent.

Maisel poses several questions to consider when you are beating yourself over the head in this situation.

What do I mean by creativity?  How is it different from talent?  What do I mean by talent?  How do I define talent?

Do I believe that I can be more creative?  In what ways?  What must I do to be more creative?

Do I love my art enough; do I feel passionate about my art?  How can I test whether I love my art enough?  (Can you imagine yourself doing anything else?)

How can I increase my love for my art?

Do I work hard enough on my art (in hours and in giving it consideration)?

What does it mean to be talented in my field?  (Think about skills and abilities needed in your field, how many are needed to do good work, do they matter equally, and are any absolutely necessary.)

How talented am I?  What are my strengths and weaknesses?  Do I possess the skills and abilities needed?

If I feel I lack skills and abilities, do I consider them innate or can they be acquired through learning or enhanced through practice?

Have I developed strategies for mastering my “disinclination” to work?

Maisel then provides nine strategies to consider:

Examine creative blockage: Does anxiety, guilt, fear or ignorance keep you from manifesting your full talent?

Work on a mighty theme: What is the biggest, most ambitious project you’d like to tackle?

Affirm that you can create or perform:  Write or speak your affirmations.  Affirm that you can do what you attempt.

Carry your work differently:  If you disown your work or treat it indifferently, it has no life within you.  Be enthusiastic, curious, disturbed and obsessed about your work.

Change formats:  If you work on a small-scale, make something large.  Work within set limits or outside those limits.  Shift your perception of the limits of your medium and the limits of your talent.

Turn things on their ears:  Work in a different style.  Change color palettes.  Break habitual ways of thinking, seeing, hearing, and doing.

Discover ways of working more deeply and effectively:  What distracts you?  How do you handle distractions?  Fend off and dispose of these distractions.  Recognize how you work best.

Track your creativity:  When you sink into uncreative periods, remember the three components: loving, knowing, and doing.  Choose a project and dive in.  Learn a new technique.  Visit a museum or gallery. 

Make every effort to bring passion, knowledge, and will to your art making; you will become more creative and manifest your talent.


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Observation

Quite a while ago I started to work through The Creativity Book by Eric Maisel.  I love these inspiration and guidance books; but I never seem to finish the majority of them.

Today, however, I pulled out The Creativity Book and picked up where I left off.  The exercise focused on studying a blade of grass.

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Yep, a blade of grass.  You could also study a flower or a tree or a plant in your home but it had to be some item in nature.  So what is the point?

To observe.  To notice.  To slow down.  To remember that we are part of a greater existence.  And yes, to possibly feel inspired.

In many of our lives, we spend way to much time fighting traffic, running from place to place, or meeting to meeting, barely stopping to catch our breath, and then we come home and collapse.

hydrangeablog.jpgWhen you slow down and stop to observe your surroundings, you drink in what is all around you.  You slow yourself down.  You take time to breath deep and exhale.  You slow down your thoughts and, perhaps, quiet your mind.  And in the quiet you might open yourself to thoughts of creativity and inspiration.

It worked for me.  The ArtDollz discussion group on Yahoo is working up another challenge.  The theme this time is “stick dolls.”  During that time of quiet observation an idea came to me for this challenge and I’m going to try and work with it.

blkeyedsusanblog.jpgAnd that is another aspect of observing and letting ideas come to you.  Acting on those ideas; whether in physical form or drawing them or journaling about them.  When we observe and open ourselves and work through our ideas, the possibilities are endless. 

And what did I observe while studying a blade of grass?  That each blade of grass is individual; some are tall, some are short, and others tipped over at the top.  Some moved in the wind as a group and others held their ground and didn’t move at all.  Some moved in one direction and others in the opposite direction.  And not every blade of grass is the same shade of green.  Some are dark, some are light, and some are a blend.

Just like us.

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