Good Exploring, Little One

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I’m well into My Year of Creative Living and, at this point, I’m appreciating (and sometimes begrudging) more and more the crazy, surprising and delightful ride that creativity is taking me on.

For example, what started as a simple goal (Write A Book) back in January spurred me to enrol in an online blogging course in the spring; hire a writing coach in early summer; and, travel 2 1/2 hrs north to Georgian Bay for a five-day writing retreat, from which I’ve just returned.

With all this, I’m definitely still on the path to writing a book, but my “Writing Life” has broken open and here I sit with all these words in me, all these stories to tell, and what seems like not enough time and space to get it all out.

Side note: my two new mantras right now are: “Be Patient And Be Willing To Pass Up Good For Great” and “Progress Is Progress“.

The writing retreat, in particular, cracked me wide open. Something about being in the most beautiful setting imaginable (Georgian Bay, I <heart> you), in two small, quintessentially- Canadian cottages, surrounded by 12 other crazy-freaking-amazing writers has given me a brand new set of lenses through which to see the world.

Everything I look at appears to me as a touching and story-filled photograph now. Words seem delicious and rich enough to eat. On the drive home, I realized that Writing and I are now in a serious, committed relationship (the best kind of relationship too… the one that keeps me both grounded AND sky-bound). Like all good and evolving relationships, I know I’m in for some tumultuous times. But I’m ready for the ride.

One of the most vulnerable stages of the writing process is sharing our work with the world. Good thing I’ve had lots of practice with vulnerability and putting my shit out there! With that in mind, I want to share three things I wrote at the retreat.

The first is a quick ditty, based on the photograph above. And it goes like this:

I want writing to feel just like this little baby who is exploring and looking with fresh eyes at everything around her, with no concept of what being messy even means. This little one has no judgement of herself. And she is loved simply for existing. She follows her heart and her curiosity without any preconceived notions of reward or consequence.

She isn’t scolded for getting dirt on her bottom or tracking mess into the house. Instead she is praised and held and celebrated.

“What a curious little explorer you are,” they say.

“Look at what you uncovered, clever little girl,” they say.

“What have discovered today?” they ask.

With a chuckle and a coo, they brush the dirt and mess off her hands, legs and feet. No harm, no foul.

Good exploring, little one.

 

The second is a poem I wrote:

Sisterhood

precious wind

of sincere love

roots me

and I rise high.

 

Lastly, a Haiku I wrote:

Dandelions

First bouquet for mom

So proud to be the giver

Promptly thrown in trash

 

What kind of creativity are you exploring these days? Are you in a serious, committed relationship with painting, sculpting, knitting, wood carving, square dancing, jewellery making, cake decorating, comedy, poetry or some other lovely creative pursuit? If yes, please share it with me here or on my FB Page so I don’t feel so alone in putting my work out into the world! If you’re not ready to share, tell me where you are in your relationship… just starting, deep in the trenches or perhaps just flirting from afar?

 

 

My Year Of Creative Living

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“Creative living…is about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”  

– Elizabeth Gilbert

I was really struck by this statement written by Elizabeth Gilbert in her latest book, Big Magic.

I actually believe I was meant to read this statement when I did. I had been feeling a simmering of sorts for a while and when I read this sentence, I sat up and took notice. Yes!  This is what’s been simmering: a more creative life. I had been feeling a deep-seated charge inside to get more of “me” out “there”. I want to live a creative life. I want to live a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than fear. This will be my year for creative living!

It feels a little like the past couple of years have been serious years for me. Lots of deep work; lots of deep reflection; lots of quiet inward gazing. I don’t know what it is, but for me, 2016 feels like it has to be about living out loud. Letting go of seriousness and letting in fun. It’s going to be about testing waters and playing with expressing myself in new ways (read: not just by writing my blog). I’m taking a page from my kids’ playbook: if something looks like fun, try it.

Here was my first taste: I have a deck of self-care cards, which is basically a deck of 52 cards with different intentions and inspirational tidbits on them. I pick a card every so often to see what the universe wants to tell me at that moment. Back in December, I chose a card that said “Resurrect a childhood dream. Let your passion take flight.” Ok, sometimes these cards are dead-on with their messages and I’ll read something that resonates big-time for me. This card, however, fell flat for me. I kept thinking back to what I dreamt about in my childhood and came up empty. I couldn’t think of one childhood dream that I’d want to resurrect.

Later that day, I was searching online for a painting course at our local recreation centre when I came across a course description for tap dancing. My jaw dropped. THAT was my childhood dream! To tap dance! I remember pretending that my shiny black Mary Jane’s were tap shoes. I remember bringing those shoes to school and lying to all my friends about taking tap lessons. I dreamed about being the next Shirley Temple with the blonde curls and the cute skirts, charming everyone with my dimpled smile and mad tap skills.

Alas, I never took a tap lesson in my life. Until now.

So, okay universe… thank you for the message! I signed up that week. And I start in a week and a half. That got me to thinking: what else have I always wanted to try and haven’t? And with that, I came up with a list of 10 creative acts that are completely new for me that I want to try in 2016. They are, in no particular order:

  1. Tap dancing
  2. Playing the ukulele
  3. Writing a book (yes, a book.)
  4. Building something (out of wood, I think)
  5. Decorating a cake – like one that you’d want to buy in a bakery
  6. Painting an abstract painting
  7. Left-handed drawing/sketching
  8. Writing a poem (or a prayer or a song… whichever way it decides to come out)
  9. Voice training – to sing, orate or otherwise be in better control of my voice
  10. Write a series of jokes… like for a one-minute comedy routine, or something.

Let me say, for the record, each one of these things scares me. I mean, really scares me. Life would be a whole lot easier if I didn’t choose to do any of these things this year. But I am curious. And this IS a year of fun. So I’m doing it! I’m doing them all!

I’m going to take on one creative act per month (save for the summer, when I will practice some of those that are a bigger commitment, like ukulele-playing) and write about it here. And, you guessed it, the themes of vulnerability, shame, courage, connection and compassion are going to show up… because putting more of “me” out “there” is a big, new, scary arena with a whole audience of critics I’ve avoided most of my life.

So, welcome to a new chapter of showing up, being seen and living bravely. Onward, upward!

 

 

The Work/Life Lab, Week #46: Letter To Your Future-Self

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Welcome to The Work/Life Lab: 52 Weeks of Daring Experiments To Shake Things Up and Learn More About Yourself At Work and Life

Experiment #46 – Letter To Your Future-Self

We hosted seven girls for a sleepover last night to celebrate my daughter’s 10th birthday. My daughter came up with the fabulous idea of having her group of friends put together a time capsule to mark the occasion. In addition to taking photos and measuring the height of everyone, each girl wrote out a profile of their current selves: favourite school subject, favourite food, sports they like, boys they like, plus their biggest fears, talents, dreams and what they want to do when they grow up. They all took an oath to open the time capsule together in five years, when they will be 15 years old. I decided it would be an interesting addition to have each girl write a letter to their future-selves, which they would read at age 15. What would a 10-year old girl write to her 15-year old self?

It, of course, got me thinking, what would I write to my 50-year old self? So I’ve decided to take up this challenge and invite you to do the same! In this week’s experiment, take 20-30 minutes out of your busy schedule to write a letter to your future-self. The guidelines are pretty simple: just think about what you’d like to say or ask yourself five years from now, and put it in a letter. Tuck that letter away, and put a reminder in your calendar to open it in November 2019.

What you say in that letter is, of course, up to you. Perhaps you want to write a letter giving a detailed description of what your life is like right now, so as to give your future self an accurate account of this period in your life. Or, maybe you’d like to ask your future-self some questions and advice; when you open that letter, you’ll see what made you curious five years earlier and whether you now have the answers. Alternatively, maybe you can try your hand at giving your future-self some advice from your present-day self, especially if you want your future-self to be reminded of an especially powerful perspective you currently hold of the world.

But here’s what I really think you should write in your letter:  spell out (in not too much detail, please) your hopes and dreams for your future-self. Where do you see yourself in five years? What kind of person are you? What kind of impact are you having? What kind of job do you have? What skills and talents are you using? Where are you living and who are you living with? What do you look like? What are you doing with your free time? This is the kind of thinking that requires you to be a bit brave and a lot creative. Get clear – but not too fussy – on how you’d like to see yourself living five years from now, and put it in writing.

Why do this? Well, there’s a whole school of thought around intention-setting and this is a fun exercise in testing the theory of “your thoughts create your reality”. At the very least, it’s something fun to do and it’s something special you get to give yourself five years from now (think of it as sending your future-self a love letter)! You’ll get a glimpse of what was important to your current-self and see whether or not your intentions have come to fruition. Or, you’ll simply give yourself a good laugh in November 2019.

The trick here is to not shortchange yourself on a fantastic future; go for the gold! If you didn’t have any negative voices telling you “you’re not ____ enough to have that kind of a future” or “who do you think you are, wanting that for yourself?”, then what would you wish for yourself? You are the only one reading this letter, so you might as well give yourself permission to dream big and write down exactly the kind of life you hope to be living in five years.

In any case, you can bet that your future-self will be thanking you for taking the time to write this letter!

 

The Work/Life Lab, Week #42: You’re Already There

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Welcome to The Work/Life Lab: 52 Weeks of Daring Experiments To Shake Things Up and Learn More About Yourself At Work and Life

Experiment #42 -You’re Already There

This week’s post is a short one. Here’s what I want you to do for this week’s experiment in the Work/Life Lab:

  1. Think of that one thing you really, really want for yourself. Is it a new job? To start your own business? To lose 10lbs? To write a novel? To make a million dollars? Or maybe it’s more time, less stress? To finally accept yourself wholly as you are and be content with what is? To be more connected to the people in your life? Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you really want and the fact that you don’t have it right now makes you kinda miserable, frustrated, sad or generally feeling stuck.
  2. Next, use your imagination and pretend like you have that thing in your life right now. Today, right at this moment… you have that job. You have your own business. You’ve lost the weight and are finished the novel. The million is already sitting in the bank. You have all the time in the world and can go about your day with ease. You feel connected, loved and grounded. Let your imagination loose on this! Really get it clear in your mind that you have already arrived. You’re already there.
  3. Now, with this in mind – that you’ve already arrived at what you want – consider what would be different about you and how you would “be” in the world. How would you wake up? How would you treat the people around you? What kind of energy would you bring to your day? How would you hold yourself?
  4. Finally – and this is the fun part – go about the rest of your week as if you’re already there, and have whatever it is you are seeking in your life. That energy, that “being”, that way you would be in the world if you had that thing you really want. Go ahead and just be that way in the world today. Right now. Carry yourself as if you’ve already arrived.

 

That’s it! Enjoy your week of thinking, feeling and behaving as if you’ve already arrived. Because, really, the way you wake up, treat people, bring your energy and hold yourself in the world is a choice you make, and not a result of circumstance. And the only real chance you have to “be” that way is right now.

 

You Can Love Your Job, The Final Truth

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The third and final fundamental truth* I want to share with you is this:

3.   You Create Your Own Life

Of the three fundamental truths (see Truth #1 and Truth #2), this is the one that really rocks my world. And it’s the one that can be the hardest to truly accept. 

Basically, when it comes to your life, you are in charge.

It’s easy not to feel this way a lot of the time. But remember, this is a fundamental truth, not a “nice to have”.

You create your own life by the perspectives/attitudes you take and by the choices you make.

Sometimes it’s easier to settle into the place of ‘stuck’, feeling like responsibilities, external pressures and social influences leave us no choice. We work at jobs we hate because we have family depending on us, or we were obliged to follow in the professional footsteps of a parent, or the media and our consumer culture promised us that money = happiness.

At the end of the day, though, the truth is you are at choice. In all of the unhappy scenarios above, there is a choice being made, and that choice might very well be ‘stuck’.

Each of us has this incredible gift of imagination that allows us to see how things could be and then to make what we imagine into reality, to be the creators of our most fulfilling life. This is not a gift to be wasted! In fact, I would argue that if you use your core values as your guideposts and your imagination as your drawing board, you will begin the holy and sacred work of exploring how you are meant to serve the world.

So what does this mean for creating a work life you love?

It means that finding a job you love, or learning to love the job you already have, begins with a choice to make that happen. It means taking a long, reflective look at your past and getting honest about what lessons you’ve learned along the way about yourself. It means igniting your imagination to dream up every single possibility of work you love and are meant to be doing, and then taking the courageous steps to create it. It means you are in charge.

So, to review… I know you can love your job because I believe in three fundamental truths:

  • You are unique
  • Life is organic
  • You create your own life

The point where these three intersect is where the magic happens. I’ll even go a step further here and add another fundamental truth to this mix, lending an important sense of urgency to my point:

  • You only have this one life to live

So, you can love your job. And what are you waiting for?

I would love to hear your thoughts on these fundamental truths. Which one resonates the most with you or gives you the biggest kick in the pants? Write your reply below!

 

* These truths are borrowed from Sir Ken Robinson who wrote The Element and Finding Your Element. He describes these as principles that apply to each of us and make it possible for us all to find the sweet spot of where natural aptitude meets personal passion.