Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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My 2014 Word of the Year-Transform

Most years I choose a word to guide me through the year. Sometimes the word is a good choice. Sometimes not so much.  The process for choosing a word isn’t terribly scientific.  I’ve used Christine Kane’s approach to chose a word. I chosen from random words that pop in my head.

This year I was guided by a more spiritual-intuitive process from Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts. This was a 12-day mini-retreat which included daily emails that provided a daily practice to help you contemplate potential words. What was different with this process, for me, is that it wasn’t about ME CHOOSING a word. Rather, it was about a word CHOOSING ME.

There is a difference.

When we choose a word, we’re looking and striving for THE word. We want it to be perfect. We obsess. Our little noggins say “this is the word that I want.”

When we allow time for a word to choose us, we, hopefully, let go of ego and let our intuition guide the process. We must let go of expectations (the perfect word) and listen to what stirs internally. Words that excite. Words that make us uncomfortable. Words that call us to grow.

So, for 12 days, I paid attention to words & phrases that appeared frequently in readings. I wrote down words that resonated with me. Words that made me uncomfortable. I made note of synchronicities.

At first, I thought my word would be “possibilities” or “possible” as in “With you all things are possible.” After surviving several losses over the past 18 months, I was feeling that in 2014 anything is possible, both good and not so good.

Then I paid more attention to other words that appeared and resonated with me. And the one word that appeared over and over was transform.

Transform means to change markedly the form or appearance of; to change the nature, function or condition of. It comes from the Old French “transformer” and Latin “transformare.” The prefix trans means “across.” So trans-form would be taking the normal mode of behavior “across” into a whole new form.

The word is quite fitting. During that 18 month period with one loss after the other, I started to question many things, from the meaning of life to the meaning of my work. I turned inward and gradually began working on my spiritual development. I thought more about what really makes me happy in life.

Now that we have started a new year, it truly is a time of new beginnings. It may sound cliche but I think of the caterpillar who cocoons and turns into a butterfly. Much work is being done internally in that cocoon. And when the butterfly emerges a wonderful transformation has occurred.

I feel I am gradually emerging from my cocoon. I have made changes in my business plan for 2014, such as not doing any art shows and closing my ArtFire Online Studio account. I’m looking forward to spending more time on personal & spiritual development. And I’m gradually starting to paint again.

So here is to 2014. A year to transform. A year of transformation.

Hanging Around in Sedona

Hanging Around in Sedona

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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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Word of the Year 2010-SOAR

At the end of last year, I posted my thoughts on my word of the year for 2009. At that time I mentioned having a list of potential words for 2010 yet none had struck a chord with me. The words on this list included: momentum, motivate/motivation, clarity, listen, courage, abundance, leap, expand, faith, and presence.

Over a few days I worked with Christine Kane’s Word of the Year Discovery Tool contemplating and answering the questions. I was drawn to the words momentum, faith, expand, and abundance yet none of them felt quite “right.” I thought more about the past year and what I felt was missing within me. What kept me from having a better year.

Momentum was the first word that came to mind last month when I began to think about my word for 2010. But that word also scared me. What if I chose that word and all hell broke loose with stuff coming at me from all directions? Was that the kind of momentum I was seeking? What if life came at me faster than I could handle and I found myself in overwhelm?

After answering a few questions in the Discovery Tool worksheet, I decided to sit quietly and meditate on this situation. Getting quiet and clear brought the word to me in an instant.

SOAR

That’s it! I want to SOAR in 2010.

Now where did that word come from? In some ways it is an extension of momentum. I think the reason momentum didn’t quite work for me was the word brought to mind moving very fast and then hitting a wall or gaining speed only to poop out. Momentum is hard to maintain. Sometimes you go really fast but don’t have anything to show for it.

Soar brought to mind the hawks I so admire; the hawks I often see soaring above the earth, moving gracefully on thermals. They show such strength, power, and freedom. And they look like they’re really enjoying themselves.

Having the word soar to guide me through this year gives me confidence and the ability to face fear and move beyond it. I think it actually moves me beyond expansion and momentum.

I look forward to seeing how this word will guide my year. So far it has brought me an accountability (goals) partner, a potential new consignment sales opportunity and the potential to have my artwork included in some soon-to-be-published books.

The word SOAR is written on my calendar along with this mantra: SOAR with Momentum into Abundance and have Faith.


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Reflection on Renaissance: Word of the Year 2009

Last year at this time I announced the word renaissance as my 2009 word of the year.  I re-read the post today.

Last year at this time I had just started reading Diane Dreher’s book Your Personal Renaissance: 12 Steps To Finding Your True Calling. I was pumped up by a new year, a new word, and new motivation.

Renaissance is defined as a rebirth, revival.  A period of revived intellectual or artistic achievement or enthusiasm. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

Looking back at 2009 I find that I did accomplish many things. I attended numerous teleseminars and visited museums and art exhibits. I started an email newsletter, developed two new websites, participated in art exhibits, traveled to southern France for a workshop and tourism, sold several small sculptures and submitted an article proposal and took a 16-week creativity coaching class.

But I continued to find myself disillusioned with my business. I was confused about which direction to take. Would I continue down the same path or try something different? I lost faith and enthusiasm. I became bored. The Mastermind group I tried to form failed before it ever really got started. I felt unsupported. And I never finished Dreher’s book. I just couldn’t get into it.

I also picked a second word for the year, discipline. The intention behind that word was to devote more time to the studio, goal setting, marketing, and networking. I did become a better about studio time, often spending an entire day in the studio. I started a notebook where I kept goals for each month and put the small steps in my calendar. Marketing was still an issue for me, partly due to the financial cost. Networking was fair. I spent more time on Twitter but really missed more face-to-face interaction.

I don’t feel like 2009 was a renaissance year for me. Perhaps I idealized it; expected great and earth-shattering things that never materialized. And when that didn’t happen, when sales didn’t come through, when fear raised its head, when I didn’t feel supported, I lost faith in myself and in my business. I shrank.

2009 was just an odd year. The economy, the war, a new administration trying so hard to advance change. Family members and friends dealing with illness. Relationships ending. Certainly it wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t a revival either.

Or was it?

As I contemplate the word renaissance and all that 2009 brought, I realize how much my art means to me, how much it is a part of me. The enthusiasm did come back in October when a workshop revitalized me and inspired me with new ideas. Enthusiasm returned when I accepted one aspect of my business as essential to my overall income and that I shouldn’t fight it; that I need to learn how to make the most of it. And I felt revitalized when I began throwing out old work, both artwork and work from former careers.

I have a list of words started for my 2010 word of the year but I’m not committing to any one (or two) in particular. Not yet. I want to spend some more time reflecting on this past year, what I needed but didn’t find, what was missing. Christine Kane created a wonderful document, a “discovery tool” to help us work through this word of the year process. It is free and you’ll find it here.

Unlike Marvin the Martian, I’m not looking for an earth shattering ‘ka-boom’ in 2010. Sometimes when we look too hard for or expect something, we never find it.


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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: Blast-Off Class

Earlier this month I started working with Alyson Stanfield in her Blast Off class.  This class is designed to help artists develop a stronger foundation for their business through daily exercises (i.e. homework) and thought-provoking questions.  I worked with Alyson a few years ago when I led a group of local artists in an Art Salon.  In the Art Salon we used outlines provided by Alyson which helped us develop marketing plans for our businesses.

Thus far in the class we’ve discussed gratitude, visualizations, affirmations, blocks to progress, finances, and developing routines.  And that has just been the first 9 days!  (We take the weekends off to catch up on our homework.)

Since the beginning of the month and during the Blast Off class I’ve had three a-ha moments:

  • My packing and shipping process is time consuming and needs to be more efficient.  I wrote out each step in this process, discussed it with Eric, and brainstormed ideas for condensing or eliminating steps.
  • I hit upon an idea for renaming and repackaging a particular product.  I brainstormed with a fellow guild member and asked followers on my Twitter page for ideas which subsequently caused the “light bulb” to go off.  This really convinced me of the benefit of social networking.
  • After visiting with a vendor, another light-bulb went off in my head about a potential joint marketing idea; something that would benefit both of us.

Would any of this happened without the class?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that because I’m writing down monthly goals, writing down ideas that pop into my head, and being asked questions in the workshop, I’m taking the time to think, and to be more aware of my routines, and my surroundings.

One point that Alyson has made in the class is for us to consider our motives or reasons for why we do what we do in order to tackle tasks and goals.

How often do you do that?  Isn’t it more likely that we do what we do because that is what we’re supposed to do?  Perhaps we do what we do to meet someone’s expectation of us?  Or we stay busy all the time which must mean we’re motivated but what happens when we stop being busy?

As Alyson put it “Knowing why you want to accomplish certain things helps you prioritize and move forward” and “the things we usually put off are those that will have the biggest impact on our success.”

I faced that issue this weekend.  I’ve been putting off teaching myself to use Rapidweaver (web design tool) partly because the documentation isn’t very good and partly because I was used to using Frontpage on my former PC and the thought of learning something completely new was daunting.

Using Alyson’s suggestion, I had to ask myself: What is my motive for learning Rapidweaver? To create a brand new web site to promote my two lines of art.  What happens if I continue to put it off? I’m stuck maintaining an old web site that doesn’t represent the vision I have for my art and business.  So, again, what is my motive for learning Rapidweaver? To make a better web site that provides a better visual representation of my art.

I put my butt in the chair and started by reading the documentation out loud.  Bingo; the light bulb went off.  I gained a better understanding of how the documentation is laid out (general overview, then specific information…it still leaves a bit to be desired but now I can tolerate it.)  I learned Rapidweaver is relatively easy to use once I played around with it.  I learned the tool is easier to use than Frontpage (sorry PC folks.)  And, I have to admit, I started having fun with it and look forward to creating my new business web sites.

After taking an online workshop with Christine Kane, listening to various tele-seminars, and reading select coaching newsletters and books I’m noticing a core theme: dream, dream big, write it down, verbalize it, visualize it, get clear, set goals, take baby-steps as needed, and surround yourself with supportive people.  Alyson’s class continues to promote these themes and more.  Perhaps this message is being repeated enough for me to have faith that it really works.  Now to have faith in myself in seeing it through.