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Better Living

Indulging ME

Just over a year ago when I embarked on the journey of working for myself, I placed one thing at the top of my list of values….self-care.  I wanted my serious business woman self to honor the hard, working dedicated but oh-so-human self.  In the beginning, I worked that into my day like a teenager with a new driver’s license.  I took my time getting up in the morning, lit candles as I was blogging, burned incense while painting, napped if I felt like it, created one-person retreats…..I lived up the self-care.

Then I got all filled up, and I began to push myself.  The drive to reach for my dreams felt good.  It was empowering. I have felt unstoppable. One dream after another fell into place. I got a contract to teach at the Creatives Celebrating Sisterhood Art Retreat, was one of Mixed Media May‘s featured artists, taught a drama camp and then an art camp, had my first e-course (Touch the Moon), my first one-woman art show, got my website up (created it myself….oh that was a feat!), began offering my Life Coaching services and was featured on a radio show.  In between, there were a thousand little firsts, tiny parts of dreams clicking into place, big connections with individuals, and plenty of witnessing the ah-ha’s of the Creatives who find their way here.

Week before last, I felt like I was running for a marathon.  I was stretching myself to the max to keep up with the energy my dreams were setting off.  I LOVED IT!  I got SO much accomplished.

Then, I crossed the line, finishing the busiest week of my year so far.  I exhaled and all the wind in my sails went with it.

Now, I find myself craving the quiet. I see myself needing more me time, less work time, and the one who lobbied for self-care is poking her head out again to say, “Hey, remember what you promised?”

Yes, I do remember.  Gratefully, I remember.

So as the year winds down, so will I.  I make no apologies of it, need not sympathy for feeling disconnected from my drive to push forward.  I know this is part of the creative process.  This is a vital part of sustaining long term creativity, the part where we recognize our accomplishments, celebrate them, and rest.

How will I do it?  Well, to start off, a corporate holiday party, of course.  I am taking my employees (that would be me) out for a spa day to include a luxurious massage (which I traded for some art a couple of weeks back….score), all the chai I can handle, and adding naps to my very short to do list.  I am also going to do an inventory of my accomplishments and put them up somewhere….maybe tack a gold star to them.  Oh, and throughout the holidays, I am going to unabashedly brag about myself to anyone who will listen.

I am indulging in the splendor of my year.

And I have to admit that sharing this with you warms my heart so much. Last year at this time, I wanted what I have today so much.  Some days I felt so incredibly stuck, not being able to see the other side of it. But I always trusted that something would come out of my dreaming.

I am full of gratitude (please don’t just pass by that word without feeling the beauty of it) for the community that joins me on this journey…..for the artists, the bloggers, poets, dancers, followers, leaders, likers, the dreamers, the hopers, wishers, wanters, and the quiet ones who secretly pop in when no one is looking….for all of you who help hold this dream up…..I am full of gratitude.

What do YOU celebrate this year? What would you brag about if someone would listen?….don’t leave me bragging alone. How would you celebrate if you were me? I would love to know what self-care and celebration look like for you. I can always use a new idea!

Today’s Indulgence….a MEDIA FAST. Yep, I am spending 12-21-12 by checking out of the internet, news, books, radio, tv, and phone and am checking in with myself, my friends and family, and my intuition.  Wanna join me?

Bad Dreams, Bad News, Bad People

I have written and erased, re-written and erased this post several times. I even made a video to go with it.  I decided to “go there” and then think against it. But this time I am going to keep writing in hopes that whoever might need to hear what I have to say will find it.  You see, I like to write about things that inspire….I like to stay out of politics and the ugly side of life.  But the fact is, something in me says I need to talk about this. So I am going to listen to that voice.

Just about anywhere you go this week, you will have had a conversation or heard the news about the massacre at Newtown, CT.  (This is where I get so stuck…..I bet you thought you might be able to come here to get away from that…a sanctuary, a place of reprise.)  Well, everywhere I go people are talking about it and I have started noticing that there is a trend in which people are starting to feel the trauma of the event in a very personal way.

Schools are going on lock down all over the country. Folks are extra vigilant; they are watching everything they can about the tragedy in hopes of making sense of this senseless act. And as a result, people are feeling traumatized.

This is what mental health professionals identify as secondary trauma.  A traumatic event happens to someone else and those around them, those that witness it, hear the story or who are somehow affected by the story begin to also experience the stress of the trauma.  As a helping professional in a family violence shelter for over 2 years, I saw who difficult secondary trauma could be.  It is hard to understand because we think, “This didn’t happen to me. Why should I feel the effects of it?”  But we do.

We might experience Secondary Trauma in these ways:

  • We lose sleep.
  • Our mind races with thoughts of the event or varying scenarios that play the trauma over in different ways.
  • We might have bad dreams.
  • We might find our actual reality mirroring some part of the event (like having our own child’s school put on lock down).
  • We might feel compelled to watch as much about the event as we can.
  • We might need to watch the news to assure ourselves that our security is intact.
  • Our body may be filled with anxiety and stress.
  • We may feel fearful, worried, unsafe, sad, and/or in shock.
  • The event may bring up our own unhealed traumas from the past.

What can help?

Here are a few things that might help bring you back to a feeling of peace and calm.

  • Make a space in your life to honor the loss. Light a candle, say a prayer, attend a vigil, write a poem, make a donation.
  • Set aside a time for connecting with a calm state of being.  (One way to do this might be to spend 15 minutes before bed listing 5 gratitudes and then focusing on your breathing.  You may find your mind wandering onto the event or a stressor, but just gently bring yourself back to the breath.)
  • Go on a media fast (no news) or limit your news intake.  This can be especially helpful in the evening to help keep your mind as calm and peaceful as possible before bed.
  • Try to balance judging your safety (and that of your children) with maintaining your peaceful state of being.
  • Connect with your love ones.
  • If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the tragedy and unable to comfort yourself, you may consider seeking the assistance of a helping professional, a counselor, clergy, or your doctor.
  • Know that you are not alone.
Resources

I would also like to share a resource for talking to your kiddos about death and violence.  Martha Atkins is a friend of mine and one of my secret mentors (wink).  She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to grief, death and dying, and blending kids in with those subjects. She knows about life too, and how to live a good one!

Find her posts here:

Talking About Death to Kids 

Decoding Death Messages from Kids – Part One

More to come….check out the Martha Adkins blog.

You are a Resource!

Help grow the list of ways others might connect with peace during times of high stress like the one we are experiencing as a result of the tragedy in Newtown, CT.  Share with us YOUR ideas for what works, what is working, or what you are considering.

 

 

 

Bridging the Years

About 15 years ago, a couple of local artists held a New Year’s workshop that used mask making to consider the year that had passed and the one to come.  The link to masks was created by using as their focus the Roman god Janus who is depicted with two faces, one face looks into the past, one to the future.  I loved the concept because I think during these weeks that lead up to the New Year it is human nature to take stock of the year that is closing and begin cultivating the year ahead.

That bridging of the two years is exactly what I have done the last week or so and hope to continue into the New Year.  I will try to share my process here in hopes that it might help you work through your own transition.

I began thinking about 2013 about a month ago.  I like to set an intention for the holidays, and this year mine was to practice being in a spirit of giving.  The events that lead up to me discovering my intention also encouraged me to take that idea of giving and pull it into my intention for the New Year.  Last year I chose a word for the year – clarity.  It took me up until New Year’s Eve to pick my word, but this year it came to me quite easily. My word for 2013 is gift. As 2012 ends, I am wrapping up my studies with the word clarity and considering the word gift.

My intentional holiday candle (that I created as part of the StressLess Holiday Cheer Party) has the Spirit of Giving as its focus. I have kept it lit while I work in the Creativity Tribe Studio these days.  It makes me very happy.

Illuminata

I am also going to use a gratitude jar into 2013.  I discovered it through a Facebook share yesterday.  I have had a similar process in years past with a gratitude file, but the jar is so much more engaging.  I look forward to exploring the stories it will hold when I open it up and look through it just before 2014.

These little things….the candle, choosing a word for the year, creating a jar to hold gratitudes….these kinds of things are ways of deepening the beauty we find in life and of creating moments that have more meaning.  I encourage you to explore something like this for yourself.  It is a great way to write the story of your life….why not make it a story of your choosing!

 

The Transition

It’s coming quickly, the end of the year, and I keep surfing between thoughts of  this year and the next.  What did I accomplish?  What fell through the cracks?  What do I want the coming year to be like?  What do I want my focus to be?

I bring little routines and rituals into my days in an attempt to tack down time. It feels like it is moving so fast.  So much action is packed into the next couple of weeks for me.  My husband and I just made a whirlwind trip to his hometown for a funeral, quickly visited with family, and rushed back to work.  This weekend we will make the same trip to fit a holiday visit in with his family, then back for work.  There is the shopping for home and holidays, handmade gifts, parties with friends, and more family….all the while tending to the everyday business of life.  You know the drill, I bet this story could be yours.

The tacking down of time is a trick we humans use to give meaning to life.  When I write about Creativity Tribe, I often say one of my main intentions is to bring meaning and magic to our lives.  That could just sound like a lofty cliche, but for me it is so much more.  Bringing meaning to life allows me to give added value to my experiences.  Magic is my way of talking about my belief that much of life is created by our actions, thoughts, intentions, and imagination.  Both these ideas express that we are not just victims to a life that happens out of our control.  Even when something happens that is not our choice, like death, disease, a break up or the like, we have a choice about how it affects us, how deal with it, what it means to us, and how quickly we let go of it and move on. These two ideas work together to help us frame moments and movements in our lives.

Life itself is one continuous, every evolving experience.  We don’t get breaks.  We don’t get a vacation from it. It keeps coming at us, second by second.  As humans though, we attempt to stop the merry-go-round to stay with a particular event and sometimes even imagine some experiences follow us throughout our lifetimes.  Take for example how I changed my story to change my life, disconnecting from the belief that I would die at 45 as my mother and grandfather had.  That is a sticky event that was carried two generations after my grandfather died.  I gave that belief to myself, just as my mother gave it to herself.  I assigned that meaning to my life.  And when it no longer suited me, I chose to shift to a new belief.  Instead of feeling a overwhelming dread about life quickly moving me towards 45, I have feel joyous and relieved….magic!

As we transition from 2012 to 2013, I am tending to some of the tacks I put in place last year and readying the tacks I wish to use for the coming year.  More about that tomorrow!

 

 

 

When Life Clicks

Have you ever had a time in your life when you wished for something to SHIFT?  When you WISHED for a more refined way of living?  Where you yearned for a life in ALIGNMENT with your heart’s deepest desires?

Well, the last month, something is just clicking away that keeps guiding me there. Click, click, CLICK!  Life is clicking.  There isn’t one thing I can point to and say, “This was THE thing!”  Instead it has been more about listening and taking small steps towards the small WHISPER inside.

We all have that whisperer who lets us know what the NEXT RIGHT STEP is.  All it really wants is to be heard and to be in relationship with someone who will put that guidance into ACTION.

What does your WHISPERER share with you?  Where does it invite you to grow or let go?

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

 

My Art Every Day offering for the last couple of days has been art done through my business.  I taught a class for the Art Museum of South Texas on Saturday, performed a wedding Sunday morning (yah, I do that…and LOVE it), and Sunday evening did a Vision Board Coaching Session with a couple.  It’s been a busy, but awesome weekend!

These two pieces were inspired by Patty Palmer’s fall leaf project from Deep Space Sparkle.

Art Every Day Month is a movement, inspiring artist around the blogosphere!  Head over and see what they are up to today!  Then, consider joining us.  It is a small act that makes a big different.  Creativity…….. engage!

Breath of Life

Now for the second half of the creative visualization I did last week that helped me turn my trajectory away from a crash course with Death and aim for a life well lived.  Let’s see, where was I?  Oh yes, Death had transformed into a wise elder-woman with the tell-tale signs of many years of joy reading all over her face.  She walked away to join The Fates, leaving me with the woman who had come when I let out a call for help…..this sounds like a metaphysical soap opera.

In the mediation, I felt as if a new story was playing out in front of me.  On one hand I had a sense of what should happen.  I was, after all, working to shift into a story of healing, but I could not see how the story would play out. I was invested in the happily-ever-after but had not been let in on the script.  Every action of my own or another participant was as fresh and new to me as it might be in real life.  In fact, that is how it felt…real, authentic…as if I was living in the moment.

The helper woman stood up and walked behind me. She placed her hands firmly on my shoulders and stood me up. I had been handled like that once before in a healing ceremony I participated in at the Peace Vigil in Washington, D.C. just days after 9-11.  I remember feeling the power of having someone who cared about me support me like that. Some days I can still feel my friend’s hands on my shoulders from that first ceremony, as if they have never left me.  Feeling them again in the creative visualization connected me immediately to a sense of deep, powerful healing.

The helper woman guided my body to turn and face her. She was standing on a small mound so that I could not see behind her.  She looked me in the eyes, with love and intensity and asked me, “Do you want to see your new life?”

I offered an eager, “Yes!”

She stepped to the side.  Before me was a vast valley.  My heart sped up.  “I have been here before,” I told her.  I could feel the same overwhelming beauty in that moment that I had when I visited this place several years ago on my trip to Oregon.  I was standing at the top of Crown Point, a majestic vista which overlooks Columbia River Gorge. I started to cry.

Vista House Sunset – Time lapse from Even Quach on Vimeo.

(This is a video shot by Even Quach. The house you see in the distance is located at Crown Point State Park. That is where I was standing in the meditation. The valley beyond is what I was shown. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.)

“This is how wide open your life is,” the helping woman said.  “This is how full of possibility your life is.  No limits are placed on you. None.  And having no limits feels just…like…. this.”

The wind blew across my face, and I breathed it in as if I were breathing in Life itself.   My body shivered inside.  That place is overwhelming in the best way.  That place is so immense that it felt surreal.  I sat with it…with my new Life.  I drank it in.  I felt as if my body was quenching itself after a long thirst.  I could swear my cells were reforming, as if my DNA was actually restructuring itself.

And you know, maybe it was.

All new….new life….new possibility….new me.

 

 

Choosing this Moment

Most of us say to ourselves, “I want to be more creative. I want to do more art.”

Today is in front of you. This moment is begging for you to choose IT, shouting, “Pick me. Pick me.”

And when you do, you are really picking yourself.

It is just that simple.

Cheating Death

I faced Death today.

It is part of turning my life around. I decided a few days ago that I would change my story to change my life. The main goal: to finally be rid of the nagging feeling that I would die at the age of 45 like my mother and her father both did.  With 45 only 30 months away, I felt if I was going to change my story, this would be the time to do it!

I started by going to the place where the story lives, inside me.  Shall I take you along, as if you were there? Let’s go.

I got very still and focused on the feeling of urgency that has been following me around saying, “Girl! You better start living because you’re about to be dying!”

I asked myself, “Who is saying that!”

And I heard a voice, low and soft, down by my feet say, “Me.”

Suddenly I felt something holding me by the back of my ankles. It occurred to me that it had been there a very long time, so long that it began to feel like it was actually a part of me, but it was not. I looked behind me, and there it was, stretched out prone on the ground like a long shadow, Death.  I heard a part of myself say, “If you are going to face Death, you have to FACE it!”

So I took my hands and pulled the attachments off of my ankles. They stuck like moist tar in my hands. I knew I would never be able to shake it off alone. I got down onmy  knees, then elbows, and finally stretched myself out on my stomach. There it was, the face of Death. Breath, wrank. Eyes, hollow and vast. Suddenly, I began to panic.

Saying, “This feels real. This thing in front of me doesn’t feel like it is in my mind, doesn’t feel like it is a story. It feels real. I am holding the hands of Death….my Death. I need help. I can’t do this by myself.”

At my side, a woman knelt down.  I knew she was there to answer my call for assistance. She reached out and scooped the stick tar hands off of me. I sat back. I checked in with myself. I felt safe. I watched her.

She pulled Death to her. It changed in her hands (as it would several times over the course of our time together). It crawled into her lap and curled up like an ailing elder. “There, there,” she whispered. I felt myself relax a bit. I breathed a sigh. Death seemed less scary, almost wounded. I looked at Death. It was emaciated, drawn in on itself, exhausted.

“It has been a long journey,” she told Death. “You are tired.”  I could see Death’s story, much like I could see my own. It began with my Grandfather. Death had come for him early in life. He was a proud, energetic red-headed man who enjoyed the great outdoors. When he died, my mother picked up his story and with it, Death.  So it stuck around and attached itself to her. When 45 came, Death did not want to take her, but Death was tired. When she passed, I picked up my Mother’s story, and Death attached to me. Now three generations into Death’s journey, it sat in the arms of this compassionate woman, ready to be free of its office. Death had started out wholesome, in the service of nature. Death had become sickly and twisted. It was time to let it go.

Behind the woman, three figures appeared. One was a maiden, one a mother, and one a crone. My energy piqued. The Fates!

The woman told Death that the Fates would help it heal. She told Death to stand up. When it did, it transformed into a young woman, 21 years old. I was shocked. How could Death look so young?! I remembered that I was 21 when I took Death on.

“You can’t be 21!” I told Death angrily. “You are not me!” I looked at Death closer and realized it looked like my 21 year old self. “You can’t be 21,” I said softer. And Death changed again, looking as I do today. “No,” I said. “Older, much older.” Death transformed a third time. This time into a woman wise and peaceful, with enough wrinkles across her smiling face to know she lived a good, long, peaceful life filled with joy.

I smiled.

Death turned and walked towards the Fates, giving a nod of appreciation to the kneeling woman.

Then it was my turn to be transformed by her. But I will save that for my next post.

I want to thank you for your out pouring of support as I change my story. Some of you have left private Facebook messages for me or messaged me as part of groups I am in. I am amazed at how many people hold onto this same story or another story that isn’t in line with their wishes for their lives. I am changing mine, and I invite you to change yours. I will share my path to wholeness as an example. Until next time……

Changing My Story

I grew up with stories. My dad could spin a yarn like nobody’s business. They were often just on the edge of believability in that place where you knew they probably weren’t true but you sure wanted them to be. His mother was a storyteller in her own right. She told me of the past. How she met my grandfather, how she built a house with her own two hands, about the child that died unexpectedly, and how my life changed my family. Because of them, I fell in love with stories.

Not long into my adulthood, I began reading a master storyteller, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Her books and tapes were like sacred literature in my development as a woman. That might sound “far fetched” (as my dad likes to say) but it is the truth. Clarissa taught me to look at story as medicine, as a thing that tells us about ourselves, gives us guidance for healing. I learned along the way that I could use story to change my life.

Change your story; change your life.

I know it is true because I have put it to practice over and over again.  I was the kid that did poorly in school. While my cousins and best friends were hanging out on the Honor Roll, I was struggling through books and trying to wrap my head around equations.  I was in a fog. I struggled through the first years in college too but after learning that I could change my story, I started telling myself I was a good student. I daydreamed on what it would feel like to live that story, and my grades started to improve. I fell in love with learning and even went on to get my Masters in counseling. I walked away with a 4.0 and a national award for influencing the field of counseling. Sometimes, I am amazed at the distance I came.

That is just one example of how changing my story has drastically changed my life.

Today, I am sitting with a different story. This story has been spinning itself for twenty two years now. It is a story that tells me I will die young….in fact my story suggest I will die at the age of 45.  That is not very long from now.  I turn 45 in 30 months.  Exactly two and a half years from now.  Why would this story have so much weight?!

When my mom was a young woman, her father died. He was 45. And as children who have lost their parents often do, they begin to feel their parents’ deaths are a reflection of their own deaths, a kind of inheritance.  She began to believe she would die at 45. And in fact, she did.  Crazy, huh?  I tried not to fall into that rut myself, but some mechanism inside me switch on when she died. It chatters out that story, and my life, my actions follows suit.

No, there are no blatantly obvious signs of my early demise. I have no disease, no life threatening disorder. But sometimes, I feel myself moving so fast and frantic that it seems as if I am running from something. This week I realized I am.  Death is nipping at my heels. So I live life at a sprint’s pace…quickly working to make my big, beautiful dreams come true before the end of it all.

 

Well, today I stopped.

Today I stopped, and I turned around. I stood quietly and looked Death in the face.

This is the beginning of Changing My Story.  I don’t know where it will lead me exactly, but I do know that with my own hand on the pen I will choose life. Life….happy, peaceful….and long.

What story have you changed in your life? What story would you change if you knew you could?

 

Creativity Tribe First Month-iversary

Sometimes my head is swirling with ideas that are so intense I think it will surely spin right out of control. I can get dizzy with exhilaration when my imagination is in overdrive like that. I pull together projects in my mind, dream on art concepts, work to solve problems, or toy with how to make life even more beautiful than it already is.

The last couple of months have been a wild ride. Some days I felt high with the dreams I had for my website. Other days it was all I could do to manage the reality of walking through the fear of not know how to create what I wanted. But I persevered and here we are with a brand spanking new website that is much better than I thought I could ever pull off.  (I am still amazed.)

Creating something often takes us into the unknown. Heck, that is half the thrill! We move through each wall that shows up in front of us and do our best to manage the urge to run away screaming when something goes wrong.

Having others to walk you through a project can always help. Having the crew from Startup Training School and amazing support from the U-Design Theme I chose is a big part of me getting through the ONE K in 1 DAY challenge. But, my own willingness to fight through the fear is really how I won the race.

There is a term I like to keep in my back pocket called self-efficacy (ef-uh-kah-see). Basically it refers to a person’s thoughts or feelings about how successful they are in general.  Boosting your belief in your ability to be successful can actually help you be more successful.

Success feeds success. 

Building my website over the course of a few weeks provided a major hike to my ego. I faced an obstacle that had loomed in front of me for over a year. On the other side, I feel like a bonafied bad-ass!  I spent several days stretching my dreams to grow in proportion to my new sense of self-efficacy. That is to say, I can do more in my mind, so why not be more in reality!?

I know, I know, it is not proper to be so confident about our accomplishments. But that thinking really limits us. And I am ready to let go of limits and embrace possibility. It feels so freeing.

Your Turn

Put your successes out in front of you, even if they are small. They all count. Claim some area you were able to conquer, even if it was a thousand years ago. Hunt for something you accomplished in the last 24 hours. last week, month or year, even if no one else would say it was big enough to count, grab it and love that thing. Whatever your success (and we ALL have them) own it, nurture it, be proud of it. It can help you bring more success into your life!

Claim it here with us. Success is contagious. You look at your friend who wins the race and say, If she can do it I can!  What inspirational story will you share with the tribe today to inspire them to raise above their doubts in themselves?  What will you claim? I can’t wait to hear it! I am already so proud of you.

I sent out the first Creativity Tribe Newsletter today. If you would like to receive periodical updates on what is going on with CT, head to the top of the page and subscribe. To subscribe to the blog posts, mouse over the fancy page corner at the top right and it will get you signed up for the RSS feed or join the conversation of the Creativity Tribe Facebook Page.

Looking forward to connecting with you, so let me know you have dropped by.

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Welcome to CT

Hi, I am Rachél.... the quirky, big-hearted soul behind Creativity Tribe, a sanctuary for your creative spirit. As a life coach and artist, I know the importance of community, celebration, and transformation. Creativity Tribe is abuzz with connections to other creative bloggers and offers tips and stories to inspire your creative lifestyle!
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There is a beauty that comes out of sharing a journey with another person....a dream for yourself, a direction for a project, a way out of the muck that holds your Creative Spirit back. Let's talk about working together. creativitytribe@gmail.com