THANKS — To You!

It’s no secret we’re in the midst of the crazy time of year. There’s so much to do for others, and take part in that it’s easy to get lost in the wave of holidazzle. It’s also a great time to say Thank YOU!

Giving thanks to yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself at any time of year. If you’re creative person or like creative things, you know that too much celebratory chaos can be destructive. Practice T-H-A-N-K-S to you and enjoy this holiday season and arrive in the New Year with a great attitude.

ID-100271736_Thumbs Up Means Thanks A Lot And Approved_ by Stuart Miles

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Timing- Pay close attention to your schedule this season. What’s your timing? It’s your personal time. Do you want to have dinner with a friend or be shopping at that hour of the day? Maybe you don’t want to shop at all? Give thanks for the way you choose to live and decide what works for your best timing so you can both enjoy, and give joy in all of your activities.

Health– Notice and be very honest with the state of your health right now. At this time are you capable of what there is to do? What exactly do you need right now to maintain the health you have, and improve it if you need to? Would a bit less decorating, partying or driving here and there be a good choice for your health? How would a healthy home cooked meal that nourishes you feel instead of a round of entertainment? A bit of quiet time or a nap might serve you better than many other activities. Honor your health and give thanks for how healthy you are this season.

Anxiety- There’s no denying it. This can be a season of high anxiety.  There’s extra noise, moving bits, activities, blinking lights and decorations spilling all over the place. Yikes! Those new wonderful energy saving lights give people like me serious migraines because they have a micro strobing effect. Even if you enjoy the decorative things of the season they’re in abundance adding extra input to your being. Sounds, smells, textures, colors, people, and an wealth of special foods during this season can create too much stress. If your nutritional balance goes awry you’re not going to feel well and might instead be feeding anxiety. Marketing uses an element of pumping up our anxiety making it irresistible to not grab an extra present just in case. Commercials send messages checking if you’re ready for that crazy hour when everything is supposed to be perfect. Remember that those moments last a few seconds of your life. Treat yourself gently this season. How will you choose to live with less stress?

No- One simple little word. I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase, “Just say no!” Think of all the ways that you’ll need to say no during the holidays or anytime you need to moderate your schedule. Say the words sweetly and honestly, because you care about who and how you are.  “No thank you, I don’t care for any more food. No, I’ve had enough to drink.  No, I don’t feel like going out to dinner that night. No, I need to get rest instead. No, I’m not cooking dinner for 50 people. No, I don’t care to go through all of the work to decorate. No, I’m not taking on that extra project. No I’m not doing that extra activity.” Celebrate yourself by gently and firmly saying “No” this season.

Kindness– If there’s one word that says what this season is supposed to be about it would be— kindness. This is a great time to practice your kindness skills. People are taxed, tired, stressed, anxious, and bombarded with messages that they and everything they touch needs to be flawless and full of magical moments. There’s a pervasive sense that everything needs to be all shiny, twinkling, and full of hope and promise. However, without being conscious about your actions, it’s a setup for disappointments. Giving your kindness will go much further than anything else you can do. It may not be easy when another shopper hits you with her grocery cart and yells at you for being in her way, or the parking spot is rudely snatched, or someone is just angry. The loveliness you pull into your own heart will be well worth it when someone cuts you off in traffic, grabs the last item on the shelf. Flash your smile, send them kindness, and fill your own well with humanity.

Satisfaction– Know what you need to fill up, and when you’re full. Go for the things that serve you best. It’s okay to have enough of your nieces and nephews running around and screaming, relative’s rants or listening to stories about grotesque organ failures. It’s quite right to eat a few bites of all the rich foods. Decide what you need to feel satisfied and cut out the excess this season. The holidays will go smoother, your stress will be reduced and you’ll be a much happier person when January 1 rolls around. You won’t feel as if you’ve been bulldozed. Instead you’ll feel fulfilled, rested, and your checkbook could have extra money, because you were consciously choosing how you wanted your holidays to be.

I’m very thankful for you and that you’re reading my blog. Happy New Year!

 

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Summer Blitzing

I don’t know about you, but as an artist I can get excited about pretty much anything. I love to let ideas tumble through my mind, and sometimes to distraction from my real creative work. As summer heats up in the north country, all I want to do is sit and dream. This is the summer blitzing phenomenon, that makes me feel light and fluttery, bouncing from one thought to another. In this mindset, I can’t do much physical or outdoor work, which is what we northerners save up and take advantage of doing in summertime. Frankly, it’s too hot to be outside anyway, so I need to work inside looking out. Gazing through windows is definitely dream time, however learning to do so with purpose can be mind bending. I have to remember to plan time for and call this activity passive work, and set limits on how much of it I can afford to do given my other commitments, but it’s always worthwhile.

One way to make idea spinning meaningful is to record what you see, sense, discover or ask about the experience. Your observations might come in handy to solve your current or future creative challenge. I also like recording mine, because it sets limits due to the media used, and makes the time a part of my real artistic work. I think as summer as the soft months during the year, a time to ease up my workload. So when I find the need to day dream, I try to honor it. When you make this a real part of your summer, you can look forward to blitzing your way through your creativity with insight and wonder, and maybe an unanticipated nap!

Reframing Can Help You Succeed

I had lunch with a friend the other day. “OMG/Boy I’m frustrated!” they said. “So what’s going on?” I ask. “I have a new project manager who doesn’t know what’s she’s doing.” “Tell me more,” I continue. Well she’s only been here a few months. She’s young, and more stereotypical descriptors flow into our discussion. At this point, I know my friend is facing a challenge and in the throes of learning. Frustration is the obvious symptom, and stereotyping is a sign they may feel cornered and defensive. And most of us want to elevate our symptoms fast, so we focus on what seems obvious to us.
There’s another way to make it feel better and actually enhance the experience. If we looked at our challenge as just that- a new encounter, we might be able to accept the differences and change that which is frustrating us. Saying some altered things to engage the situation, might sound something like this: “I have a new manager in charge of my project starting tomorrow. I really don’t know much about her, and I’d like to know what experiences she’s had that can make our project better. I’d also like to learn about her ideas and see how we can combine our thinking to make our project a great experience for the team.”
Here are some of the key differences when we look at a challenge as less of a threat and more of a learning exchange. In the example statements above we never give up our own important placement in the project. By reframing our thoughts and words, we continue to see ourselves as part of the team and take ownership of our role. We also embrace the new person as someone to learn about, rather than quickly assess and negatively judge. Reframing allows us to use our creative insights to discern what we need to know. We can stay focused on the project, not our feelings. Last, we anticipate a great experience as the successful outcome we expect.
All of these adjustments will bring up frustration and most likely won’t come easy for us, because learning something new is a change, and change is scary and hard. However, when we read our frustration simply as a symptom of a new learning that is taking place, we can simply reframe our thinking to more easily make the personal adjustments necessary to reach a positive outcome.
I’d love to hear how you’ve reframed your challenges to turn them into success!

Need Some Really Good Advice?

Ever get some advice that knocks you into a much needed reality change? I’m pretty sure you know the kind I mean. It comes in simple words, a sentence fragment, maybe just a sentiment. It packs a real punch because it comes at just the best time for you to feel it’s meaning, and recognize this is the purposed idea you most need now.

I got such a gift the other day, and it’s been a game changer for me. For over a year now, I’ve been under the weather with health issues. I’ve had a couple of surgeries to fix “things” that have been getting worse over time. I’m feeling guilty sharing this because I’m so blessed that none of it has been a serious health crisis. Except that now, the chronic nature of my healing has become a crisis. I’m not someone who likes to be lacking in energy or told to take it easy over and over and yes now, over again.

It’s hard to plan to creative projects when you doubt you can execute them. I feel like I’m just going to make more messes every time I try to start something, and this eats up my creative energy. I’ve always had the ability to come up with more ideas than I will ever be able to create, and sitting around resting to heal lets these dogged thoughts go crazy.  It uses up my energy to manage them, too.  

It really doesn’t matter what your energy buster might be. You could have limited energy, time, money or supplies from any number of situations. And your mental state could suffer just like mine has. So when magic words are spoken to you that help you put things back into a gentler perspective, they can be the balm that really works.

A really kind and wise mentor, Eric Maisel told me to “pester myself less.” And his words have stuck for me so much I’m making myself a necklace with this phrase to remind me to do just that! 

What’s an Empty Nest for?

Question: What’s an empty nest for?

Answer: You fill in the blank: My nest will be filled with “______.”

I was very excited to see my kids grow their wings and learn to fly. Then they flew away. It was always my plan that they would, but the day became my someday; and I wasn’t fully prepared for it. If you watch birds raise their fledglings, after the babies fly away, the adult birds fly off, too. I must have missed the importance of understanding this detail. I get to fly to new places, too? Yeah, I know we all make those someday plans, but whoever talks about identifying how or when that someday will arrive. Without knowing this, how will you know when it’s here and be able to plan for it? This is where I got stuck creatively. Whether it’s when the kids are gone, or the mortgage is paid off or you finally get that studio, it’s the same issue. Will you be ready? What will come next? What are the steps you’ll take?

Devilish details! It’s really hard to start again because it’s scary. Parts are exciting and others are emotionally baffling. It’s taken me awhile to discover that I don’t need to dwell in the feelings of loss and emptiness, leaving me unprepared for my next nesting. Instead I realized I get to recreate something new and exciting, because I’ve identified and claimed that this is my someday. They’re not all bad. Life has a way of taking us on juicy detours; but they help us know what flavors we truly like. All my experience from mistakes and hopeful attempts, as well as my wins have helped me to recognize that empty nests are a gift from my somedays. It’s the same thing for any project you worked hard on. It doesn’t matter if it met your standard of success or not. Because you made the choice to do it, you name when it’s done and then you can choose what comes next again.

Here’s the really cool part: You can feather your new nest any way you want!

You can use the good china or throw it out and get something different. You can turn empty bedrooms into guest rooms or alternate studios. Give up quilting in exchange for making jewelry. When you’ve finished that manuscript you can learn to paint. You can do whatever you desire, because your someday has arrived.

If you woke up tomorrow and were living your someday dreams, what would you be doing?

Tell me about the feathers that will remake your empty nests today.