Ease, Revisited

EASE is my Word of the Year for 2019. I’ve been practicing it for quite a while now, and writing about it here, too. This summer I’ve uncovered a whole new level of ease – and also my hidden resistance to it.

Here are some notes from the field:

There are layers of resistance to ease. These can be buried quite deeply. I’ve worked on my core beliefs a lot over the past 10 years, and yet I was recently able to pinpoint a whole new level of resistance to my work being both easy and profitable.

Keep diving deep into the shadowy parts of your subconscious mind and hauling your discoveries up into the light. EFT (aka tapping) and journaling have been invaluable in helping me to fully release my resistance and the old beliefs that provoke it.

Ease is experienced in the body. You can intellectually believe that ease is best for you, but until you ground it in your physical body, it’s just an abstract concept. Until you tune in fully, your body can be holding tension without your conscious awareness.

Make regular times throughout the day when you check in with your body’s sense of ease. Get up and do some stretches. Lie on the floor and breathe deeply. Go to yoga class, or get a massage. Swim or float in the water. Touch the earth with your bare skin.

Not many people are walking the ease-filled path. In our culture, being busy is a badge of honor. We take pride in how hard we’re working, trying, and striving. By building a life centered on ease, you’re pretty far outside the mainstream. This in itself can cause guilt and doubt to arise. Stop focusing on what others might think of your ease, and turn your attention instead to how it feels and the results you’re seeing. Your struggling doesn’t serve you or anyone else.

Also, this doesn’t mean that no one else is walking with (or toward) ease. Find your easeful tribe. Having trouble locating them? Send me an email; I’m happy to chat about my own experiences with ease.

Ease and ambition aren’t mutually exclusive. A life of ease might bring visions of retirees, the very wealthy, and nomadic hippie wanderers with no fixed address. You don’t have to be those things, or even have a slacker mentality.

For example, I’m actually a very ambitious person. My goals include being a best-selling author, leading transformational writing retreats around the globe, and becoming a philanthropist who helps fund ocean cleanup – among other things. But I’m discovering that when I approach my work with ease and joy, I get closer to those big goals. It’s when I tense up and Take Things Seriously that I get blocked and accomplish very little of meaning. Paradoxical, but true.

Keep learning new methods that help you cultivate ease. This summer I’ve learned several new tools. One of these is the “Easy World” game, which was invented by author Julia Rogers Hamrick. I learned it from my friend and mentor Jeannette Maw of Good Vibe University.

To play, just say “I choose to live in Easy World, where everything is easy, including __(fill in the blank)___.” You can use it when you notice you’re struggling with or dreading something, to reach for a seemingly impossible desire, or to uplevel your daily experience. It’s fun to play with others who are open-minded, too. BlackLion, his Mom, and I had a blast playing the Easy World game during a trip to the lake for his birthday.

All of this might make it sound like working with EASE is anything but easy. However, we’re all on a path of spiritual growth – so why not be intentional about it? You can even approach your learning about ease with ease (how meta!). Or you can treat it like a new game – how much ease can you infuse into your life over the next few weeks? Let’s play!

Starcat’s Favorites: Getting Results

It’s no secret to longtime readers that I LOVE summer. But it’s not just the warmer days and more time off to enjoy this gorgeous season. It’s also that it’s the season of abundance. Flowers, strawberries, vegetable stands, the trees, sunshine – it feels like everything is in bloom. Abundance surrounds us. For me, it’s a time when my creativity is especially expansive, and I can see the results of the inspired actions I take.

From the results my clients got in my summer retreat – one attendee wrote 22,000 words in five days! – to the amazing EFT session I had with a mentor, to my own writing process, I’ve been getting results.

It feels amazing. Like a flourishing garden, life is in full bloom.

I’m loving it. How’s your summer going? Here are some fun links from the web to peruse this weekend.

Why it’s better to not make manifesting your desires such a big deal. Try this manifesting method – it’s simple but powerful. Another favorite: acting as if!

Maybe you’re meant to have your “head in the clouds.” (Raising my hand. Yep.)

Ritual is good for your health. Why Pagan religions publicize rather than proselytize.

“You can learn to identify and work with your shadow self so that you can reach your goals and live your best life.”

How do you know if you should write a book? Here are some clues.

Enjoy your day, sweet one!

There Will Be Ebb

If you’ve done any kind of sustained creative work at all, you know that feeling when inspiration strikes and you ride the wave of powerful creative flow. It’s so thrilling!

You also know that eventually that wave crashes on the shore, and the water ebbs away. You find yourself sitting in the sand, wondering what just happened. That’s when you know that it’s time to put aside your project for a while and rest.

I’m convinced that what we call writer’s block is sometimes just the ebb tide of creativity (at other times it can manifest from our inner resistance, but that’s a topic for another day). Whether your creativity is part of your daily life or is something you dip into once in a while, that ebb can feel like abandonment.

Where’s the muse who kept you company in the wee hours? How are you supposed to forward this project when you have no idea where it’s going next? WTF, blank page?!

Dealing with the ebb tide of creativity – and there will be ebb – is hard. What can you do to get past it?

The key thing is to relax. Know that this is a normal part of the creative process. The muses haven’t abandoned you – they’re just off taking a walk.

Which is another good idea, actually – get out in nature and take a walk. Have a conversation with a friend that’s completely unrelated to your project. Watch Star Trek or Stranger Things or your favorite movie. Read a novel. Knit. Cook yourself a delicious meal.

Use your intuition to know when it’s time to return to your desk. Don’t force it. Perhaps the biggest secret of all is that the creative process is supposed to be fun. Yes, fun!

If the ebb tide seems to go on way too long, get some help. Think outside the box. Even professional writers (or artists, musicians, actors, you get the idea) need support from time to time, or with a particular project.

At the summer writing retreat I just led, one of the attendees was working on a Tarot book for a deck she’d created several years ago. She offered to do readings for the other participants on their books, to help her get back into the groove of using the cards. I’d been writing alongside the others, working on the intro to a self-help book I’m writing with BlackLion, and it was going smoothly.

But when she offered me a reading, I knew just what I wanted to use it for.

I hadn’t done any work on my second contemporary fantasy novel for about 3 months. Right at the very end, I’d gotten stuck – and the problem was my antagonist. All I knew was that this mysterious woman had been causing a lot of trouble for my troupe of heroes.

My client did a reading for this character, and it blew my mind! The ebb tide reversed, and now wave upon wave of ideas crashed onto the shores of my imagination. Seriously – I now not only know this character’s motivation, but there’s an entire back story, a new plot twist for this book, and fodder for books to come.

Thinking outside the box when you’re in the ebb tide shifts your perspective.

If you’re just entering the ebb, give yourself permission to take a break, recharge, and just BE. Yeah, I know, that can be hard for those of use raised with a Puritan work ethic. Do it anyway. You can even schedule in your relaxation on your calendar or to-do list, which helps the brain cope, because you get to check it off.

If the ebb tide seems to be dragging on, find a friend to bounce around ideas with. Try a different medium – sometimes when I’m stuck on a piece of writing, playing my drums or doodling in my art journal helps me shift. If you’re dying for one of those Tarot readings for writers, message me – my client and I are working on a collaboration to make them available at upcoming retreats!

The key thing to remember is that this too shall pass. The ocean of creativity, like the Earth’s seas, is always in motion. Trust that your inspiration will return.

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.