A Hot Date With Yourself

 

I’m notoriously bad at selfies, but I took this one on an artist date a few years ago. Obviously I was having fun!

As a creative being, which I know you are, it’s essential to keep the wellspring of your creativity clear and flowing. The best way I know of to do that is to take yourself on a hot artist date. Not once a year, but regularly.

I first heard of this idea in Julia Cameron’s wonderful book The Artist’s Way. She says to take yourself on an artist date every week for a couple of hours, but personally I’m more drawn to take a half or full day once a month or so. The frequency is totally up to you.

The idea is to go on a solo adventure of some kind, one that will open you to new sights and sounds, and refresh your imagination in the process. 

Summertime is ideal for this. I’m blessed to live in Maine, a place with an abundance of natural beauty. I like to go somewhere and walk around, exploring a beach or cute little seaside town. Then I’ll take myself out for lunch, ideally at a little cafe where I can sit for a while undisturbed. Art museums are also wonderful for artist dates. So are little funky coffee shops or independent bookstores.

On an artist date, the idea isn’t to immerse yourself in a book (as much as I love reading) or a movie, but rather to open yourself to inspiration via the world around you. Watch people or birds. Gaze at the clouds. Check out some music in the park. Daydream, and let your thoughts be free and easy.

If you really feel the need to do something during your solo date, bring along a sketchbook, art journal, or notebook. Let yourself playfully express what you’re seeing and experiencing. Don’t put pressure on your creativity. Your artist date isn’t the time to write that chapter or sketch a new design. It’s just for fun, to refresh your creative spirit.

Artists dates are productive, but not in the usual sense. They look and feel like playing around, just because. The productive part comes later, when your mind has had a chance to simmer all of that input together into a new creative idea, or a new way to approach a current project. Don’t worry about that part. Your mission is to go out into the world and have fun.

It might make you uncomfortable, the whole notion of spending time without an overt purpose. Or you might not be used to eating in a restaurant by yourself, or even spending quality time with you and you alone. If that’s the case, you can ease into it. Start with just an hour; a nature walk is a good beginning. Or find a creative friend and agree to try your first artist date together.

You don’t have to spend money to have an artist date. You can simply walk out your own front door and go exploring, on foot, opening yourself to whatever is there to be seen.

Routines can be helpful, and I’m an advocate of having a regular creative practice. However, getting into a rut where you’re going to the same places and doing the same things is draining to your creative mojo. Having a regular time set aside for an artist date brings new inspiration, like a breath of fresh air.

When I get really busy and forget to schedule in my artist dates, I notice the absence. For me, these outings have become an essential part of my Life of the Imagination.

Do you set aside regular time for artist dates? Would you like to? What are some of your favorite things to do when you get out to play?

I’d love to hear about your process. Leave a comment below or come join the conversation in the Book Birthing Center on Facebook. See you there!

Starcat’s Favorites: Summer Road Trips

I love road trips. Especially ones that involve concerts. Last weekend, we went on a really fun road trip, to Massachusetts and New York City to see Dead & Company. “We,” pictured here, being me, my husband, my boyfriend, and my husband’s girlfriend – yeah, I know, unusual (take a look at the About section if you’re curious about our alternative family). We had such a blast!

All of us except BlackLion have been longtime Deadheads. This wasn’t our first time seeing Dead & Company, either, but I have to say that these shows were exceptionally good! Especially the New York City one, where John Mayer got to play Wolf, one of Jerry Garcia’s guitars.

What road trips do you have planned for this summer? Anything fun and exciting?

Or are you more of a staycation type of person? I love those, too – in fact, my daughter and her fiancee arrive next week for a visit, and we’ll be enjoying the attractions of our lovely home state while they’re here. Ah, blessed Summer!

Here are some links for you to peruse by the water, in your hammock, or while riding along on the road trip of  your choice. Enjoy!

BlackLion and I are joining our friend and colleague Jeannette Maw’s 30-Day Manifesting Challenge, running throughout the month of July. She’s amazing – it’s going to be wildly fun and transformational! Learn more here.

Some skin-care tips to help you stay healthy this summer.

Just…yes, to this one.

The midlife unraveling. “You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”

Wow. Elizabeth Gilbert on The Moth talking about the death of her partner. Damn. You’ll need tissues – oh, and there’s plenty of swearing.

This creativity quiz is super fun and insightful. I’m a Dreamer – which didn’t surprise me a bit.

Interesting perspective on why social media isn’t as good for business as it once was.

Enjoy your summer adventures!

Summer Solstice Check-In

As we approach the Summer Solstice and the halfway point of the calendar year, it’s a good time to take a look at how things are going in our lives. What did you hope to feel, experience, and accomplish this year? How’s it going?

Let’s shine the light on things! It’s time for an assessment.

You might tend to focus on the goals that haven’t yet become part of your life. As an achievement-oriented Virgo, I’m guilty of that, for sure. After I recently shared my disappointment about not being closer to some of my big goals for this year, one of my wise biz sisters asked me about what IS going well for me. In our biz group, we post our celebrations as part of our weekly check-in, and she’d noticed that I’ve been making progress.

Taking an inventory of your celebrations is key to staying on track toward your goals. Whether you do this weekly or less often, make some time to see what’s been going right for you this year. Start by making a list of your celebrations. Don’t just include things that you’ve done. Feelings, experiences, and aha moments are reasons to celebrate, too.

Summer Solstice is also an auspicious time to adjust your goals and expectations. You might have already achieved a goal or three. Maybe you discovered that something you thought you wanted is no longer a priority. You could have uncovered an exciting new passion that you want to explore, learn about, or dive into.

Which of your goals are you still committed to? What do you want to accomplish the rest of this calendar year? What feelings and experiences are most important for you to encourage? How can you make space for them?

Take the time to write out your goals, even if you didn’t do this at the beginning of the year.

Getting support can make a huge difference in staying on track toward your goals. If I didn’t have that feedback from my biz sister that I mentioned above, I might have been seeing my progress through smoky lenses (the opposite of those rose-colored glasses).

What kind of help do you need to move forward as you ease into the second half of the year? (If you’d like some help with writing, creativity, or spiritual practice, you know I’ve got your back – just drop me a line).

Taking a snapshot of where you are and where you’re going is essential to your forward momentum. Ideally we’d each do this quarterly; I like the idea of doing it on the solstices and equinoxes, as these seasonal changes are already times of transition.

I hope you’ll plan some fun and relaxation into your summer! I have a road trip to see Dead & Company, a visit from my daughter and her fiancee, and leading my first seaside writing retreat on the docket. What’s up for you?

The Life of the Imagination

Photo by Aracos the Bardtographer at this year’s Beltane on the Beach

I enjoy living a “Life of the Imagination.” The phrase itself came to me at some point several years ago, popping into my consciousness and immediately embraced as something that describes me, at least when I’m at my best.

What does it mean? It’s about letting your creativity flow, allowing yourself to be whimsical and fanciful, and noticing (and being amused by) those little fun quirky moments that arise in life.

Everyday life in the mainstream culture doesn’t encourage us to live this way. We’re “all business” much of the time, doing our work, taking care of practical needs, keeping our heads down, and getting things checked off the to-do list.

Our leisure time is often filled with things that come from other peoples’ imaginations – movies, music, and TV shows that are no doubt entertaining, but aren’t an expression of our own essence. Advertisements urge us to go shopping in order to be happy.

So how do we shift out of this serious, boring mode and encourage ourselves to use our imaginations? I like to think of my imaginative aspects as part of my fae self.

Here are some ideas for encouraging your faerie spirit:

  • Play games that bring out your imaginative powers. Role-playing games like D&D are great for this. If that’s not your cup of tea, how about I Spy, Charades, or 20 Questions? For a real workout, hang out with some young kids and play imagination games with them for an hour or two.
  • Be mischievous! With kindness in mind, play benevolent tricks on your family and friends. Make up and share new jokes or tongue twisters. Write silly poetry. Draw cartoons on your friends’ white board or grocery list. Post goofy sayings on their Facebook wall.
  • Dress to express your unique self. I adore the fashion statements that many preteen kids make, many of which have nothing to do with the latest trends. Add some accessories or combine colors in new ways, just for fun. Or go all-out with your own “look.” If people stare, smile and give them the peace sign!
  • Connect with others who allow their unique selves to shine. Our society encourages us to try and keep up with the proverbial Joneses, but aren’t the most interesting people the ones who are a bit, well, strange? Encourage them to keep it up!
  • Look for odd coincidences and synchronicities, and say thanks to the Universe for them. If you see something that is strange, fun, and unusual, take a picture or describe it to a friend. For extra credit, create your own!
  • Laugh out loud for no good reason. Dance in the grocery store. Speak in made-up languages. Or whatever feels right!
  • Get away from your usual routines. BlackLion and I are about to head off for a long-awaited vacation in the tropics. We’ll be playing and imagining our way through the next week – and along with swimsuits, we’ve packed notebooks and art supplies! Time off, and away, is vital, especially for creative types like you and me. Maybe it’s a playful vacation, a transformational retreat, or even a long-weekend road trip.

I hope you’ll take the time to try some of these tips. I’d love to hear how you express your imagination in your daily life!

The Creative Power of the Sea

Going to the beach regularly makes me a better writer – a better person, even.

After a visit to the ocean, I feel calmer (thank you, negative ions), more focused, and extra inspired.

I’m blessed to live in a spot in Maine where a trip to the ocean takes less than 30 minutes. It’s a good thing, too, because over the past few years, walks by the sea have become an essential part of my life as a Thriving Artist.

Why? I’m not exactly sure. Without planning to, I’ve become a water priestess.

Earlier in my adult life, my patron Goddess was Brigid. My ancestry is Celtic, and I was drawn to Her creative and healing domains. We even named our daughter after Her. Interestingly, Brigid oversees both the fires of the forge and the waters of the sacred wells.

But these past few years, it’s the ocean Goddess Yemaya who’s been calling my name. I can’t help but listen to Her compelling song, carried on the frothy waves and salty breezes. I’ve been a quarter mermaid for many years, and She’s singing directly to my watery Cancer-rising heart.

This call to the depths has affected my life and work in many ways. I’m currently researching and outlining a book with the working title Water Wisdom. My Big Vision is to offer transformational seaside writing retreats around the world. The philanthropic arm of my mini-empire is devoted to helping clean up the oceans. BlackLion and I are about to visit Nassau for the first time, to restore ourselves in the tropical waters (SO excited!).

My wild sisters and I spend our summer full moons at our favorite local beach, bobbing in the waves and cackling with laughter by the fire. Each September, on Yemaya’s feast day, I lead a ritual on the beach where we give offerings of flowers, fruit, and coins to Her.

Forgive the pun, but since working with Yemaya, I’m much more able to go with the flow of life (and creativity). Truly. It’s such a blessing for this recovering perfectionist.

What about you, Thriving Artist? Does the ocean call to you or inspire your work? Maybe it’s the mountains, or the desert, or your own backyard. I’d love to hear about how your creative superpowers are affected by the natural world.

Drop a comment below or post in the Book Birthing Center on Facebook. Blessings!

Starcat’s Favorites: Books and Bookstores

Happy Independent Bookstore Day! Yes, that’s really a thing. Today’s a wonderful day to visit your favorite local bookstore.

I thought I’d kick off the festivities by sharing photos of my “to be read” and “currently reading” piles. The shorter pile is what I’m currently reading (or re-reading, in the case of Women Who Run with the Wolves). The ones I have underway on the Kindle are Chillpreneur by Denise Duffield-Thomas and Who the F*** Am I To Be A Coach? by Megan Jo Wilson.

What are you reading currently? Or looking forward to reading soon?

Here are some links for your weekend perusal, including some about…wait for it… books and bookstores!

The best bookstores in all 50 states (road trip goal, anyone?).

Some famous bookworms share their book collections.

The current popularity of D&D and other role-playing games. Love it!

For those, like me, who quake in their boots about a trip to the dreaded dentist.

A thought-provoking article on ways to use your time more effectively.

I hope your day is full of fun and plenty of good books.

Why YOUR Story Matters

To doubt oneself is a common experience in our modern culture. So many of us have a story to tell or a tale to craft, yet wonder whether or not our experience is unique or profound enough to share. We don’t fully trust our imagination, or the impulses that urge us to create.

If you find yourself thinking, “Who am I to write a book?” – pause and consider this.

You are a woman with a unique experience in the world. What you bring to the table – your skills, your wisdom, your service to the community – is the culmination of all the things you’ve learned and experienced throughout your lifetime.

Women’s stories, for centuries, have been left untold. Your wisdom has been silenced. The ways of women have been suppressed or discouraged.

Sharing your story will inspire others on their journey, and help you understand yourself and your unique vision more deeply. Writing your book will allow you to integrate your wisdom so you’re ready to learn and grow more. It will shine the light on all the ways you lead and inspire.

Writing is a tool for transformation. Tap into your creative wellspring, and write the book you can’t wait to share with the world!

Looking for support as you dive into telling your story? Join us.

Courting the Muses: 7 Ways to Get Inspired

I sat down to write this post about courting the muses, yet the background sounds in the room were distracting me. So I pulled up my Writing Inspiration playlist on YouTube.

That reminded me of a song I wanted to add. One of my yoga teachers has been playing it in class lately, and I love it. I added the song, and then looked through the whole playlist, which is a work in progress.

I had some inspirations for other songs to add, which then led me down a lovely trail of music, mostly geared toward the novel I’m working on.

That’s how the creative life goes, some days.

Courting the muses means following the trail of inspiration, even when it doesn’t go where you thought it would.

The Muses, in ancient Greek mythology, were demi-goddesses whose inspiration spoke directly to poets and artists. In my work, I use the term “the Muses” to describe two things: 1. The inner wisdom that whispers to you about inspired actions and 2. anything (or anyone) that inspires you.

Your pets or your partner could be your muses. The unexpected ideas you get at 2 a.m. are from your muses. Nature is an excellent muse, as are books and art museums and songs and conversations with strangers.

Our inner muses often communicate with us through synchronicity, which is a term coined by Carl Jung to refer to those meaningful coincidences that pop up in our lives. You know the ones. Like when a friend mentions a musician you’ve never heard of, and then their music comes up on the radio, and a day later, you encounter them again in yet another context.

The muses are actually always speaking to our creative souls, in one way or another. If we refuse to listen or to heed their call to create, though, they may wander off for a time. They like to go where they’re needed and valued.

That’s why, especially when you’re beginning a new creative project or phase of life, it’s helpful to court them.

How do you best court the muses? Here are some ideas:

  • Take time to get quiet. You can’t hear the whispers of your muses if your inner and outer surroundings are always filled with noise. Unplug for a bit. Take a walk outside with your notebook or sketch pad. Listen.
  • Create without focusing on the outcome. Instead of worrying about how your creation will come out, deep dive into the process. Revel in the feeling of crafting something inspired.
  • Try something new. Beginner’s mind can help you get beyond any blockages. Engage your Younger Self by taking a fun workshop, buying some new art supplies, or experimenting.
  • Listen to the wisdom of your dreams. Whether in nighttime dreams or daydreams, our inner muses offer us clues and symbols leading to greater creativity. Pay attention to these signposts. Allow the whimsical nature of these hypnagogic states to guide your creativity. Create something based on a dream image or story.
  • Set up a sacred container. The muses are more likely to visit you if you have regular time set aside for them. Make the time and space in your life to create. Think of it as a weekly date with your muses.
  • Collaborate with uplifting people. Who are the people in your life who are prolific and joyful creators? Seek them out and spend time together. Collaborate. Trade ideas and share communities. If you don’t have any of these people around you, go out and meet some!
  • If your creativity feels stalled, be playful. Remember, play is productive. Don’t take yourself and your creative work so seriously. Have fun with it!

Try some of these ideas and see what happens. For more tips, particularly if you’re being called to write a book, join my newsletter list. As a thank-you gift, I’ll send you my What’s Stopping You? quiz.

Starcat’s Favorites: My Community

I’ve had kind of a struggly winter, blah blah blah. Who hasn’t? I hope you haven’t, actually.

But the cool thing is that I have such a vibrant and supportive community. I’m so thankful. I’ve surrounded myself with some extremely excellent folks. This wasn’t always the case.

I’ve been blessed with an amazing and close extended family. But over the past several years, I’ve consciously nurtured (and expanded) my tribe of friends, biz sisters, and acquaintances, and they are amazing. I’m so very thankful.

Here are some fun reads for your weekend:

I love Leonie Dawson. Here’s her list of The 12 Most Life-Changing Spiritual Books for Women – I got to add a few to my to-read list. She also wrote this excellent article about Why Successful Women Entrepreneurs Choose to Write Books.

As an empty-nester myself, this essay got me right in the feels.

Do you like quizzes and surveys? This site is quite captivating. I came across it thanks to an interesting Maine Calling program on the psychology of political polarization.

Longtime readers will know that I’ve been polyamorous for many years now. This video explains poly fairly realistically (though I’ve never attended an orgy or swingers’ event, myself). I totally agree that polyamory is not for everyone.

Decluttering and writing. Love it.

Also for the writers: A thoughtful essay on why writing is different with the advent of screens and the Internet. Also, why keeping a novel notebook is useful (I haven’t done this yet, but it’s a wonderfully intriguing idea).

Have a lovely weekend!

 

Opening Pandora’s Treasure Box

Pandora’s Box by Michael Hensmann, shared via Creative Commons.

It feels like writing about the Law of Attraction means opening up Pandora’s mythical box. On the one hand, there’s so much treasure in there, and it has helped me to vastly expand and improve my life. On the other hand, there are many misconceptions about the philosophy and its validity.

So of course BlackLion and I decided to write a book about it!

The book actually focuses on the work and teaching we’ve been doing that integrates the concepts of the Law of Attraction (LOA) with some of the practices of Earth-based spirituality. We’ll also address the prejudices and misunderstandings about what the LOA is and how to use it, ethically and practically.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a bit about using the LOA in your creative life.

The posts I’ve shared here over the past two months have focused on ways to move your creative work to a place of priority in your life, with ease and joy. I’m encouraging you to become a Thriving Artist (if it’s something that calls to you)

The power of the LOA lies in its focus on what you do want for yourself, your life, and the world. In mainstream society, we’re taught to focus mainly on what’s not working. In my experience, it’s much more productive to focus on what I do love about my experiences.

This takes some training. It takes practice to rewire your brain after years of habitual thinking. Don’t lose hope, though – it can be done!

In practice, the process of rewiring means using tools like gratitude lists, vision boards, meditation, and exquisite self-care. It means cultivating an awareness of when you shift into old patterns, and gently redirecting yourself. It means doing the heavy lifting of self-improvement and growth.

The over-simplified version of the Law of Attraction says that if you “just” think good thoughts, all your dreams will come true. That’s only part of the picture. First, thinking good thoughts is way easier said than done. Also, those thoughts need to be backed up with inspired actions.

In order to use the LOA in your creative life, I recommend you begin by asking yourself these questions:

  • How do I most love to express my creativity?
  • What were my favorite activities as a young child?
  • If I had a whole day to myself, with no responsibilities, what would I do with it?
  • What are my creative gifts and talents?
  • What new creative art would I most like to learn or try?
  • What do I enjoy most about my current (or past) creative work?
  • Who are my favorite creative role models? (artists, actors, authors, speakers, teachers, etc.)

Now take the answers to these questions and pick just one idea to focus on. Make a list of baby steps to get you there. Go do them.

For example, if you’ve always wanted to learn to play the violin, your list of baby steps might be: 1. Do a Google search on violin teachers in my area. 2. Ask Aunt Karen to borrow her violin. 3. Look up beginner tutorials on YouTube.

If you came up with a fun and inspiring list of creative things you’d love to do if you had the whole day to yourself, your list might be: 1. Schedule a day off from work within the next two weeks. 2. Get a babysitter/pet-sitter for that day. 3. Get art supplies from the local craft store.

You get the idea. By turning your gaze to what you love about your creativity, rather than your doubts or the lack of time or resources or whatever, you’re putting things in motion. 

Setting intentions and taking small, bite-sized actions gets you on the path. Next time, we’ll expand the map a bit more by enlisting the help of your Deep Self and your muses.

I’d love to hear about your action items, and your work with the LOA. Leave a comment below!