Asking the Right Questions

Can you believe that April is almost over? I can't! My little time off turned into a long time off. I'm looking forward to regularly writing & blogging, so look forward to some more content.

Here are my thoughts for today.

Asking the Right Questions

It's so tough to filter through all the advice. Between commercials, news reports, magazine ads, and well meaning family & friends, we are constantly bombarded with advice on what to do. Sometimes we forget to ask ourselves for the answers. So here are some questions.

What could you do today to make your day better?
How could you enjoy the day more?
What would you rather be doing with your time, with your life?
What activities lift you up?
What family members do you cherish?
What food makes you melt?
What vision inspires you?
What would feel the best right now?

                What are you waiting for?

Sometimes It's Just the Blues

Sometimes, no matter how much free time you have, no matter how many new colored pencils you have awaiting use, no matter how many new creative programs you own, none of them seem worth looking at. Yet with society's emphasis on doing doing doing, it can be almost agonizing to not know what to do next.

Yes, there's the holiday shopping. Yes, there are parties to go to. Perhaps you could decorate some more or make cookies for your folks. But sometimes, it's just the blues. And that's okay.

We aren't talking about major depression here or even mild depression, just plain old blues or blahs. So, take a peek out the window. See that sun? No? I don't either. It's gray outside. And depending upon where you live, it's pretty cold, too. Actually where I live, it's about 50 degrees out which is way too warm for this time of year (global warming people). So it doesn't feel like Winter yet. Technically it isn't winter yet. But the winter blues are making their way into many people's homes or cubicles.

Also, I find when I get the winter blues, nothing has any color. Sure I'm surrounded by winter lights, in your face holiday ads, and goodies galore. But despite all the in your face holiday good cheer, it's like watching fireworks on a black and white TV: no sparks, no life.

Granted it may be worrisome to find yourself apathetic to the holidays. But don't stress too much. Here are some tips to get through the winter blues.

  1. Get outside. Getting any sunshine during this time of year is pivotal. If you can't do that, get a light box or sun therapy light. They are kind of expensive, but worth it if you feel better when using one.
  2. Get some exercise. Yes, as unappealing as it sounds, moving your body does help.
  3. Go to bed early. Before the light bulb people went to bed when it got dark. Follow nature's cycle and take it easy. It's okay. I give you permission.
  4. Journal. If your mind is spinning yet your body is slow, release some of that energy through your pen. It will help, I promise.
  5. Watch funny movies. I signed up for Netflix again and rented a bunch of comedies. The power of laughter is very important. There's even a new type of yoga that focuses on whole body laughter.
  6. Eat more carbs. Yes, you'll probably grow a bigger behind in the process, but eating carbs helps to increase the serotonin in your system. That's why we eat carbs in the first place when we are stressing out. Get fat for the winter. No one will notice it under those bulky sweaters anyway.
  7. Drink tea. Along with many healthful benefits of drinking tea, the act of sipping hot tea is something I find very relaxing. Tea is the beverage that gives you permission to relax. While coffee is the beverage that allows you to run around at top speed. Think tea. Not coffee.
  8. Volunteer. There's always someone out there who has less than you. You'll feel better knowing you are making a difference. And perhaps you'll start to see the abundance in your own life, too.

Those are just some tips for getting through the winter blues. But like the Chinese proverb says,

When its hot, sweat. When it's cold, shiver.

Sometimes we try too hard to fix ourselves, to self-medicate with food or chocolate (yes I know I just told you to eat more carbs), or to drown our sorrows with retail therapy or some such other escape. But there's something to be said for being in the present moment, acknowledging you feel like crap or like nothing at all, and being okay with that.

It's okay to have the blues. They will pass. You'll feel better and forget about it until next year. I promise.

Choose Your Focus

So, with the holidays rapidly approaching, it's easy to get caught up in the swirl of get togethers, shopping excursions, and eating frenzies that decorate our lives this time of year. More often than not, you forget what the holiday is really about. You give over to road rage. You charge up a storm to "out give" your sister. And you put on those extra pounds because you just can't say no to Aunt Sarah.

So what could make this holiday season different? Your focus. You see, we have the amazing ability to literally change our reality simply by what we focus on. How is that possible? Well, look to your childhood memories. Do you recall the hustle and bustle? Do you remember the traffic? Do you remember how much it cost your folks? Of course not. You were a child.

But along with being a child, your focus was on how much fun the holidays were. That was your reality. You got to eat as much dessert at grandma's as you wanted. And the toys! There were even holidays festivities at school. There was Turkey Day and more eating. Cousins came over to play. And Santa? Or Hanukkah and the Festival of Light? Or Yuletide blessings? How delightful!

As a child, your focus was on the fun. Granted you may say things have changed. The gas prices are high. You now have to entertain your kids and get them every electronic gadget under the sun. But that's because you are only focusing on what is stressing you out. So stop doing that.

If you choose to look at the positive aspects of the holiday, soon your memories will be ones of bliss instead of headache. Why is that? Well, your reality is made up of your perception. The human body is a wonderful thing receiving tons of information at all times. Remember those things called the five senses? Well, there is only so much input you can process at any given time. Therefore, you only notice what's on your mind and what's important to you.

It's like getting a new blue car and seemingly everywhere you look, people have the same color car. For some reason, you never noticed before. But because blue cars are now in your focus, your reality has changed a bit. You see the cars everywhere.

The same applies to a positive or negative attitude. If you focus on all the good in the world, you will see more of it. Your brain will also naturally tune out other things in order to alert you to the positive. (If you want to know more about this concept, check out The Secret.) So you really can change your reality with your focus.

The holidays can be different this year. They won't be a blur, but another wonderful time to be with loved ones. This works in all aspects of your life all times of the year as well. Every situation has a flip side that can bring much joy depending upon how you see it and what you choose to focus on.

What will you focus on?

  • High gas prices or  how luck you are to have a working vehicle?
  • Heating bills or fuzzy warm sweaters?
  • Holiday stress or time with loved ones?
  • Spending spending spending or giving and receiving?
  • Raking leaves or beautiful fall colors?
  • Shoveling snow or making snow angels?

Make this year different. Choose your focus.

Doing More By Doing Less

I'm sure you've heard that it's good to do nothing, do less, or simplify. But what exactly does it mean? I know I've written about it before, but at the time I don't think I knew exactly what I was talking about. Let me explain. I used to play piano and take lessons, go to college, have a full-time job, go to a book club, talk to friends online, coach people, spend time with my boyfriend, read books, think about drawing (doh), watch TV, exercise, blog, house sit, and sleep. I like sleep.

Perhaps that isn't that much compared to folks with children. Their lives are dedicated to providing for their family. But for me, I even thought I wasn't doing enough. That free Saturday between classes I could use for a drop-in yoga class. My free Wednesday when I didn't have piano lessons, well I could go out shopping. And that reminds me, I didn't have anything scheduled on Tuesday. Hmmmmm.....

What's even funnier is that during this entire time, I also wanted to lose 30 pounds, learn design and teach myself the Adobe Creative Suite on, design t-shirts to sell, write a children's story, meditate, take classes to develop my intuition, and learn to draw web comics. Somewhere in my crazy speed addicted brain I thought I could actually do all of that!

However, most of my fast paced activities contributed to the very things I was wishing to remedy. Had I not packed my schedule so full, I would have time to prepare a healthy delicious meal. Instead I bought fatty microwave meals or just lived off popcorn and chocolate. If I wasn't going to school, I could spend my time doing what I enjoyed instead of following a curriculum set by someone else (I normally a self-motivated learner).

I wished to be more creative, but when I squeezed in things, I didn't actually enjoy them. And most of the time, while doing one thing, my mind was out thinking of what I would rather be doing or what I would be doing next.

Does this sound anything like your life right now? If so, you need to take a few moments to just slow down. Heck, I know if this is you right now, slowing down won't mean a thing. You need to go away on a small vacation. Even a weekend away is nice. Here's why.

When I was in my boyfriend's sister's wedding, we only brought the minimal amount of things for the three day stay in New York. Amazingly enough I was okay with just the one book I brought and the GameBoy I had with me. Imagine that! In previous trips to Maine (granted we were staying for a week), I would bring probably 30 books I just might want to read, 20 movies we might want to watch, and a whole slew of video games. Don't forget the yoga mat, exercise DVDs, tarot cards, and art supplies. Did I use any of it on vacation? Sure, I tried doing yoga one night, but got bored. Moreover, instead of reading any of the books I brought, I actually bought a new book at the local bookstore. Go figure.

What I'm trying to say it, we need to be reminded that we can enjoy the simple things. We can enjoy what we have now. We can do more by doing less. We cannot fill ourselves up by moving at breakneck speeds. Sometimes I think we are afraid to slow down and see ourselves in the mirror.

During my Maine vacation, I realized how many activities I had filling up my life. In the silence on the beach, I zoned in on my desire to just read books and daydream. Moreover, I realized that I kept putting my true desires off until I finished college. "Once I finish college, then I can <insert life here>". But I have a great new job where people listen to my ideas. What was I going to college for in the first place? I don't exactly know. It wasn't for the things I truly enjoyed: art, music, writing.

When I got back, I decided to quit school. Actually I had decided to pursue one of my three main interests at another college: art, music, and writing. But I realized I was "doing it again" - getting back into the same patterns of doing too much.

I've made a promise to myself to focus on just being me. I don't have school, my piano teacher has seemed to disappear off the face of the earth, and I'm currently not coaching anyone. Believe or not, I've said no to some pretty amazing opportunities. Why? Because focusing on just being me, chilling out and figuring out what I'd like to do in the moment, and doing more by doing less, feels pretty darned good! I forgot how much I liked being me. Heh.

Why not give it a try!

  • Take measure of all that you are doing in your life
  • Go away for a weekend trip and bring only the basics
  • Or, imagine that the house was on fire and you could on bring out one thing.
  • Take stock of all that you own, want, think you need, or are still paying off
  • Reminisce back to the good-ole-days and see how really simple they were
  • Stop thinking about any of this and take a nap - you probably need one
  • Enjoy your life!

To blog or not to blog

As I remove more things from my schedule, I'm noticing that I want to read a lot more. Moreover, I'm noticing that being online isn't pulling to me as much as it used to. I have friends that enjoy cultivating online relationships and while I have many a wonderful "online friend", I crave the solitude from holding a book, sitting away from the computer, creating at my art desk, or playing piano.

Therefor, I ask myself if I should continue with this blog. A lot of this traffic comes from a few places I post. More traffic comes from one of the artists on the artist spotlight. But there is a lot to be said for providing daily content, or even weekly content. People do not comment on what I write, and that's fine. Nor do I have time to be commenting on other blogs. Blogging does take a commitment. Do I have that commitment? I'm not sure.

This is through typepad, so I am paying for this monthly. I could get something that's free such as a blogger site and just redirect my domain name to it. Who knows? I'm just pondering what to do. Often times I will just drop everything. That turns into a giant swing into boredom where I quickly scurry to fill my life back up again.

Soon that becomes overwhelming and I long to drop everything. There is a delicate balance between it all and I must remember my cycles - be they cycles of creation or cycles of living.

So, should I continue with this blog? If you read my blog and find it interesting, let me know. If you don't care, well that's okay too. There are new blogs popping up every few seconds of the day. I doubt mine will be missed. Funny though when friends find my blog, they say how well written it is. Yet it's not like I have a growing readership. Though perhaps if I wrote more I would.

Hmmm, would I rather talk/coach about creating or create myself. Or can I do both?

Cloudy Days

It's a fact; sometimes we will have cloudy days. You wake up, you won't want to do anything. Perhaps everything seems pointless. Why did you even bother getting out of bed? Who do you think you are kidding anyway? You'll never get anywhere.

Yes, these thoughts can put a damper on our creative spirit, but they come with the territory. Being creative takes courage. Courage to be different, courage to try something that may have no guarantee. This is all part of the process.

What to do if you are in the grip of a cloudy depressing mind set?

  • Take a break.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Eat some chocolate.
  • Call your mom.
  • Play with some kids.
  • Read the news (there's always someone worse off out there).
  • Learn something.
  • Journal about it.
  • Take a nap.

Take note of where you are in your creative process. Are you starting a new step that you've never done before? Is there anything that triggered this crappy mood?

  • Did someone tell you that artists make no money?
  • Did someone criticize your work?
  • Are your friends doing better than you are in their craft, but you feel like you put in more work?
  • Are there no jobs in your field?
  • Does your goal seem like it's going to take forever?
  • Have you been staying in doors for too long?
  • Do you get any exercise?
  • Have you been keeping to yourself?

There are many reasons you could be having a bad day. But like clouds, it too shall pass and the sun will eventually come shining through. There are ups and downs in life. You wouldn't appreciate the ups if not for the downs.

Sometimes you are just having a bad day. But you do matter, your creativity matters, your dreams matter. It may not feel like it right now, but you are important. Tomorrow is another day.

Let It Snow

No_adult_playSo when did snow and winter become something we adults dread? Perhaps it's the cleaning off of the car. Or maybe it's sitting in traffic or behind the paranoid woman going 15 when there's a light dusting. Whatever it is, we adults need to loosen up and have some fun!

Yesterday Scott, my boyfriend, and I cleaned off our vehicles. We had been lazing around in pjs all day and only threw on our winter coats. Of course I couldn't pass up throwing a few snowballs at Scott while he cleaned off the car.

Thankfully for him, my aim is so bad I could only hit him from a few feet away. To make it more fair, we stood about 50 feet away from each other (give or take a few feet). The objective, to actually hit him with a snowball.

He wasn't doing very good either. He'd lob together the heavy wet snow and send a ball flying three feet to my left. I chuckled. Of course my attempt sent it soaring to the right. I tried using my bowling tactics: focus on the target. Well, that worked a few times.

After getting bored with this, I ran to the lawn and took a dive. Literally, I did a somersault dive onto the lawn. Granted there's about three inches of snow. Some glitch in my brain tells me this is just like jumping on three inches of padding. Sadly no.

However, with my cold pj bottoms acting as my only real padding against the wet and cold, I was somehow protected. I tried getting Scott to roll around with me, but he gave me the "I don't want to make myself look like an idiot (like you) on the front lawn."

After rolling around and jumping like some crazy squirrel (there is a crazy kung fu squirrel in the backyard that likes to use a twig as a staff), I managed to get him to admit he didn't want to a) hurt himself, and b)do it in the front yard.

Thankfully as I ran into the backyard, he followed. After one successful roll in the snow, Scott started building a snowman. That didn't go over so well. Three inches of snow does not a snowman make. Unless you want to shovel the entire backyard.

Once the cold really started setting in, we went inside. But during my entire snow romp, I kept noting how old and fuddy duddy we've become. When did we stop enjoying the snow? When do adults shed their lust for fun? Or rather when do they grow callused to it all?

Take some time to go out and have fun in the snow. Make a snowball. Make snow angels. Or as Scott said, "I'm not making a snow angel. But I'll make a snow man." Appreciate the weather and stop making into something you have to endure.

Enjoy it! Be like a kid. Roll in the snow. I promise you won't get hurt (though my butt is kind of sore today).

Pure Imagination

noI got this idea from Jodee Bock's blog, You Already Know This. She posted the words to When You Wish Upon A Star. The lyrics are fantastic. I just finished watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The lyrics to Pure Imagination are great, too, so I wanted to share.

Hold your breath
Make a wish
Count to three

Come with me
And you'll be
In a world of
Pure imagination
Take a look
And you'll see
Into your imagination

We'll begin
With a spin
Traveling in
The world of my creation
What we'll see
Will defy

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanta change the world?
There's nothing
To it

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You'll be free
If you truly wish to be

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanta change the world?
There's nothing
To it

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You'll be free
If you truly
Wish to be

If you can imagine it, you can create it. What are you going to create this year?

Happy New Year!