Awaken!

“A kind of light spread out from her. And everything changed color. And the world opened out. And a day was good to awaken to. And there were no limits to anything. And the people of the world were good and handsome. And I was not afraid any more.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
New Moon | New Year

It's almost like the movie Groundhog Day.

A new moon fell on the first of this calendar year. This coming Thursday is the second new moon of the month and it falls on the eve of the Chinese New Year. Actually, in China Standard Time, the new moon is on the 31st (Chinese New Year's Day is always the new moon day of the first lunar month), but I don't think I have any readers in China right now.

If you didn't quite get with the program on the first of the calendar year, or you've been distracted from from your good intentions, I say, pick up your standard again and go forth into the new year now!

The new moon is always a time for new beginnings. This week's new moon is in Aquarius, the astrological sign that rules expansive visionary ideals and solving problems outside traditional boxes. This marks a powerful time to brainstorm and make decisions for more conscious living, connect with other like-minded people for support and to share ideals. The power and support of a community outweighs going it alone.

On the other hand, Aquarius begs you to be you. To be who you really are and express your uniqueness creatively.

If you fell back to sleep when you meant to get out of bed, hey, the new year begins on Friday.

Wake up and live!

Here are some Chinese New Year greetings to help you celebrate new beginnings all over again.

“Jinyumangtang” — May wealth fill your hall!

“Dazhanhongtu” — May you realize your aspirations!

“Wanshiruyi” — May your wishes be fulfilled!

“Zhaocaijinbao” — Acquire wealth to gain more jewels!
"Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart ... Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens."
–Carl Jung
Life is the First Art

Last Day to Register!

Registration closes tonight for Life is the First Art.

If you miss it this year, you are always welcome to join the program in 2015.
Or... you could

Enroll Now!

Our first meeting is Thursday, January 30 at 8 PM.

Click Here to learn more about Life is the First Art.
"That you carry yourself forward and experience the myriad things is delusion. That the myriad things come forward and experience themselves is awakening."
—Dogen Zenji (1200 - 1253)
____________________________________________

Join my Tribe and receive ongoing inspiration
  • Creative Wake Up eBook
  • with bonus song download
  • and my Weekly eZine Stroke and Flow
   


On Opening Up


Watercolor
Suzanne McDermott
“What happens when people open their hearts?"..."They get better.”
― Haruki Murakami
Surrender

I made an unscripted video for my new course a few weeks ago and was struck by how many times I mentioned opening up. I wasn't planning on speaking about that so it stuck with me.

Then I took a wild ride through more than a few stressful days. Finally, I said to myself, Hey! Surrender to this. You're finding your way through many classic intensive stressors all at once. Acknowledge and honor this fact! Open yourself up. Don't shut down.

I'll also mention that I'd just stopped at Starbucks for a tall dark roast. Definitely a contributing factor.

So I was stressed. We all get stressed. But the point I want to make is that we have these coping mechanisms in place that serve to shove down the raw emotion of intensive experience. Whether it's good or bad, happy or sad, we tend to close ourselves off rather than open ourselves up to experience.

The ways that we shut down and close ourselves off to fully experiencing whatever is arising in our experience can be dramatic or very, very subtle. And the way things are these days, increasingly intense, it seems that these coping mechanisms might not be a bad idea. After all, we don't want hosts of Screaming Mimis unleashed at every turn.

But the thing is that opening ourselves, opening our hearts gives us the potential of space to respond rather than react.

I was thinking of opening up as letting go. And it's not just a one time thing. We have to open up and let go, open up and let go, over and over again.

We open our hand to let go and, in doing so we prepare ourselves to receive.

Cracking open our protective veneer can be painful, but in a beautiful sort of way that can allow the flow of tears, and may involve wounding.

But there is healing in opening up, the raw vulnerability that welcomes truth, the asking for and receiving of help, trust, surprise, miracles.

Like most things, opening up is a practice.

Try it. You might like it.
"The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers."
― Deepak Chopra
Still Room

There's an opening for you in Life is the First Art.

But not much time left to decide to join us. As soon as you join us, you can begin preparations.

Enroll Now!

Our first meeting is Thursday, January 30 at 8 PM and it's the last week to enroll.

Click Here to learn more about Life is the First Art.

____________________________________________

Join my Tribe and receive ongoing inspiration
  • Creative Wake Up eBook
  • with bonus song download
  • and my Weekly eZine Stroke and Flow
   


How To Get Started (2 little tricks)


The Easy Way
Watercolor
“When you come upon a difficult task … start.”
— Yogi Bhajan
Resistance is a powerful tool

Anyone involved in creative pursuits is well acquainted with resistance. Also known as procrastination, resistance can keep you from starting anything. From writing an opera to washing the dishes.

Why do we resist? You can usually boil it down to one term. Fear.

What are we afraid of? Challenge. Difficulty. Failure. What other people might think.

What happens to us when we resist?

When you become aware of the resistance process, you start to notice certain things. You might first notice anything that can distract you. The cat wanting to go out the door, the laundry that needs to be put in the machine, email, facebook. All those distractions? They start with thoughts.

Accompanying those thoughts are physical sensations, discomfort and habits of behavior. You might go to the refrigerator and reach for something to eat when you're not hungry. You might grab the mouse and start playing solitaire. You know your physical experience and behavioral habits better than anyone.

Resistance is not unlike a dance choreographed to avoid the main event on stage.

So what do you do about it? You start.

What if the task seems overwhelming (because you're just beginning?) You start.

Easier said than done, I know. Very well!

Here are two little tricks to help you start.

1. MAKE DAILY LISTS.

You can call them "to do" lists if you must, but putting down in writing what it is you want to accomplish and then checking the items off as you complete each one (or at the end of the day) can give you guidance when you notice resistance and some sense of accomplishment when you overcome that resistance.

2. USE A TIMER.

I used to have little egg timers scattered around the house and studio. Now I just use an app on my iPod Touch. Set your timer for 15 minutes and then start whatever is next on your agenda. I guarantee that you will look up when the bell rings at the end of 15 minutes and be so engrossed in your task (or the setting up of your task), that you'll set it for another 15 (or 30 or 45 minutes) and continue on with what you were doing.

Once you start using these little tricks, you'll be amazed at how much time you spend resisting. And spending time resisting is not hanging around doing nothing. You are not resting.

When you're resisting, you're usually in a state of anxiety. You know that you need to do certain things but you either can't get started or you distract yourself with a string of alternate tasks, always feeling the weight or looming of that thing undone as if any minute now, it's going to land on or grab you by the back of the neck.

There are more in-depth approaches to these two little tricks (beyond the scope of one blog post.) For example, if you want to travel to Berkeley, NSW, Australia from Fayetteville, Arkansas, you probably wouldn't put "Travel to Australia" on your daily list. Instead, you might write something like "Decide on possible travel dates," or "Check airfares from Fayetteville to Sidney."

Still, just the simple acts of writing down tasks and using a timer can be of great help. Use your resistance to help you get started instead of allowing it to make you stagnate.
"Art begins with resistance - at the point where resistance is overcome. No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor."
—Andre Gide
2 Seats Still Available for Life is the First Art

Our first meeting is on Thursday, January 30 at 8 PM. Specific dates TBA.

I've extended advance tuition through tonight, the 14th.

Enroll by midnight, tonight, for special tuition
($87 per month regularly $97.)

Enroll for the full course now
and receive a bonus of Two 30-minute, One-on-One coaching calls with me.

READ TESTIMONIALS

Click here to learn More About the Course.

Not so sure? I've added a Trial Membership period of 3 months.

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions page.

REMEMBER! I'm offering you a 30-day money-back guarantee!

Click Here for more about Life is the First Art,
my new coaching program designed for you.
"The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs."
—John Dewey
____________________________________________

Join my Tribe and receive ongoing inspiration
  • Creative Wake Up eBook
  • with bonus song download
  • and my Weekly eZine Stroke and Flow
   


What are you worth?


"Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are."
—Malcolm S. Forbes
Ah... Value

If you've been reading my blogs over the years, you know how often I've written about value but I don't think that I've ever told this story.

After I graduated college, I worked at an independent book store on St. Armand's Key in Sarasota, Florida. I have a whole drawerful of stories from that chapter but...

One day, a woman flew into the store, rather breathless, and asked "Do you have any books on the value of shells?"

"The...value...of...shells?" I repeated back to her.

"Yes," she said, "I see all these people walking along the beach, picking up shells. Do have a book that tells how much they're worth?"

I opened my mouth but couldn't think of what to say to her. I'm sure I was polite though I probably laughed and said, "Oh. They're just beautiful. We like to look at them and feel them. People pick them up for souvenirs. They remind us of the sea and the beach.They remind us of feeling good and of what we love." (How could you not know this?)

As if the question wasn't preposterous enough, (I mean, I know there are businesses that sell shells), the woman was crestfallen by my reply. I wondered if she even believed me.

"Wow," I thought. "Wow."

Invaluable

As far as I know, an exoskeleton does not have consciousness. But we do.

Although people try to do it all the time, you can't put a price on the experience of real beauty, or truth, or goodness. The ineffable quality of experiencing life in present tense is priceless. It's consciousness in action.

Money is important, no getting around that. But there's also no getting around the fact that, when it's your time to go, money isn't going with you. When you look back over your life, I guarantee you that you won't value how much money you made or spent or lost.

You will think of what you learned through your experience on earth, whether you were true to yourself, if you loved, if you were happy (because, of course, if you're happy, you make others happy), if you did the best you could with what you were given, how you spent your time. Stuff like that.

That's why I've put this new coaching program together.

Life is the First Art is not going to be deep and heavy, but the course is designed to help you get to know yourself better, to become more authentic, and to live in a way that will please you to look back upon.

Not that you don't have plenty to be pleased about already! That's the thing we tend to forget, or dismiss — Our inherent value and the awesomeness we bring to the planet every day.
"Self-worth comes from one thing — thinking that you are worthy."
—Wayne Dyer
Join us for Life is the First Art.

Our first meeting is on Thursday, January 30 at 8 PM. Specific dates TBA.
If you have a conflict on Thursdays, we'll find a way to make it work for you!

Enroll by midnight, January 14, for special tuition.
($87 per month regularly $97.)

Enroll for the full course now
and receive a bonus of Two 30-minute, One-on-One coaching calls with me.

Not so sure? I've added a Trial Membership period of 3 months.

If you really, really want to do this and are financially squeezed, email me and we'll discuss alternate payment plan. I mean it!

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions page.

REMEMBER! I'm offering you a 30-day money-back guarantee!

Click Here for more about Life is the First Art,
my new coaching program designed for YOU.
"The privlege of a lifetime is being who you are."
—Joseph Campbell
____________________________________________

Join my Tribe and receive ongoing inspiration
  • Creative Wake Up eBook
  • with bonus song download
  • and my Weekly eZine Stroke and Flow
   


Life is the First Art

"Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties."
—Helen Keller
I wish you good cheer

I love New Year's Day!

All of the holiday hubbub is behind us and there is something fresh, swept clean about the day.

Over the holidays, I was telling a friend about how excited I am about my new online coaching program and, when she heard that I was going to start the program on the 30th of January, she said, "Aren't those things supposed to start on the first of the year?"

I asked her to think about the gym at the beginning of January. The machines are crowded, the gym memberships spike astronomically, and it seems that everyone is going to lose weight, quit smoking, stop drinking, start that novel or submit that manuscript to the publisher.

Soon enough, the gym empties out, the cheesecake lands on your plate, you'll have just one cigarette or one glass of wine, the first few pages of that imagined novel lie buried in some file on your desktop, and, well, check with any editor or publisher about the sky-high piles of manuscripts that are dumped into their mailroom.

Aside from all that, making a New Year's Resolution is like jumping off a moving train. So much motion leading up to and over the holidays! Give it a rest for a minute! Why be a lemming? Why not take time for a nap, for dreaming, for recovery?

Changing your life takes time, even if you're changing one piece of the puzzle.

Making change takes planning and strategy, guidance and support. That's why I'm starting my new online coaching program at the end of the month. I'm giving those who are coming on board a chance for reflection, some advance considerations, some time.

There's another good reason I'm starting at the end of the month. Today marks the first of two New Moons this month. (An auspicious beginning for 2014!) January 30th marks the second New Moon. It's a perfect moment to start transformation.
"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Transformation

Change is one thing. You can change a tire, change your mind, change course in mid-stream...

Transformation is something else entirely. Transformation is radical. A dramatic change in form or appearance that comes from within, from the root. Transformation takes time. Transformation needs space. Time and space require some clearing.

The same friend who asked me why I am starting my new coaching program at the end of January had another question for me. "What about your drawing and watercolor courses? What's the... relationship?"

I told her that, while I love guiding students through the basics of drawing and watercolor and making sure that they have a solid foundation from which to grow and practice, and I love watching their development over the course of our time together, what really thrills me is their transformation within.

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to hear them tell me how they notice that they are actually observing their world with more clarity and understanding. It's so rewarding to watch their fears subside and confidence build, and the way that they learn to manage the failures and disappointments, then get right back to work. I like to see how they relax into the process and allow themselves to transform.

I talk to people a lot about drawing and watercolor. Here's what I know.

Most people are not going to pick up a pencil or paint brush. Why? They're afraid they're not good enough, afraid of what other people will think, afraid of failure, too hard on themselves, too busy, not interested in "art" (but secretly want to express themselves creatively), had a bad experience in their youth or adult life and have shut themselves down. The list goes on...

Just because people don't want to pick up a pencil or paint brush should not keep them from an experience with creative transformation. Even students who have been through my drawing and watercolor course may want to expand their horizons and explore further transformation.

That's why I've created this online coaching course and that's the relationship.

Click Here for more about Life is the First Art.

I'm extending a special price for those who sign up by January 14.
There's a 3 month trial offer and a 30-day money back guarantee.
CLICK HERE learn all about it.
"If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am."
—Cyril Cusack

____________________________________________

Join my Tribe and receive ongoing inspiration
  • Creative Wake Up eBook
  • with bonus song download
  • and my Weekly eZine Stroke and Flow