Saturday, December 31, 2016

Guiding Star #5: The Hats

Welcome back to Guiding Star.  Here we are, in the middle of all of the gems and muck of our lives.  Isn't it sloppy and messy and wonderful?!?!  I know, some of you are grinding your teeth and grumbling at me under your breath.  It's okay.  I'm happy to be your guide to the life you know you are meant to live.  See, I'm not afraid of mud or rocks.  Or even words or failed dreams.  I've walked through that jungle many times and guess what - I'm still here!  You will be too.  Keep dreaming, keep writing, keep walking.  Just remember to wear comfortable shoes.

Today's exercise is one of my favorites.  I find it much easier than yesterday's and oh-so enlightening.  I hope you have a similar experience.  Today's exercise should lead you to a clearer awareness of how you see yourself, your responsibilities and your dreams. Knowing where you are, where you need to be and where you would like to be is crucial for your final Guiding Star plan.




Materials: For this exercise, you will need something to write on or in.  A journal, a computer, or scratch paper - doesn't matter.  The results of today's exercise will be seen by your Buddy.

Time: Start with 15 minutes, but be prepared to use 30 minutes.  As will all exercises, keep going if you are inspired and have the time.


The Hats Exercise

- List all of the hats you currently wear in life.  Hats?  Yes, all the roles and responsibilities that fill your days with light...and sometimes dark, heavy, yucky weight.

Example:
Wife
Husband
Father
Mother
Teacher
Caretaker
Brother
Neighbor
Attorney
Painter
Joy Giver
Chauffeur
Singer
Bread Winner
Lover

 - Are there any hats you'd like to be wearing that don't appear on that list? Write them down.

Example:
Lover
Friend
Artist
Rabble Rouser
Princess
Composer
Writer
Power Broker
Mover and Shaker
Community Advocate

- Combining both lists, order your many hats from the one that takes the most time and attention to the one that takes the least. It is likely that the hats on the second list will appear at the bottom of this list.

- If your list is longer than 20 hats, feel free to eliminate some.  At this point in the exercise, 10-12 is a the targeted number of hats. Start the elimination with the ones that feel crusty, tired, and outmoded.  Keep the ones that glow and sparkle.

- Now rank your hats in the ideal order.  Start with the one you wish received most of your attention to the one that you wish would received the least.  This is a dream list; tell the realist in you to go out for coffee while you are working on this list.

- Now for the fun.  Create a new list of 4-7 hats, merging those that must be on the list with at least one that you'd like to have on the list. Here's your opportunity to incorporate more of what you desire in your life.  Do it - leap!  It's only a list.

For Example: 

Maria left her position as a partner in a major accounting firm 2 years ago so she could be home full time with her 3 kids.  Maria and her wife, Beth, have a loving relationship. Beth loves her work, makes a good salary and is as involved with the family as is possible. While Maria organizes one annual fundraising event for her local ballet company, she still yearns to be more engaged with the world outside of her home and family. Maria's old list might have looked like this:

Mother
Chauffeur
Nurse
Teacher
Friend
Sad Sack
Advocate

Her dream list might look like this:
Lover
Dancer
Mover and Shaker
Traveler
Giver of Smiles
Clown

Her new list might look like this:

Mother - Let's face it, Maria's got to be a mother first. She's okay with that, in fact, when she takes time to breathe and reflect on her life, Maria realizes she LOVES being a mother.
Lover - Aha. What happens if Maria starts to view herself as a lover - of herself, her wife AND her kids?
Advocate - Maria does miss being in the workplace. This year she's going to hire someone to take care of the kids (including driving them to their activities) one day a week. She's going to use that day to work at her beloved ballet company, developing a program that brings dance to underserved communities.
Giver of Smiles - Maria realizes there is a small, but powerful action she can incorporate into her life which has the potential to transform her attitude, her life and the lives of people she encounters. 
Friend - Maria's wife has agreed to leave work early once a month so Maria can go out with a girlfriend. That's a reasonable goal for everyone.

Maria is well aware that not every hat will fit the way she envisions, but she's recognizing there are steps she can take to find more of what she craves in life.  This is exciting; Maria is actually looking forward to 2017.

- Tell your Buddy when you're finished.



Always remember:
Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? One-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour through February 1, 2017 (Click here to schedule a session).

Related Posts:
Find Your Guiding Star
Guiding Star #1: My Crystal Ball
Guiding Star #2: It Was The Best Of Times
Guiding Star #3: Can You Hear Me Now?
Guiding Star #4: The Shift and The Slogan


Friday, December 30, 2016

Guiding Star #4: The Shift and The Slogan

I'm very curious - how are you doing with Guiding Star?  Driving you nuts?  Energizing you?  Look, 2017 is going to be a big year.  Your choice to make it big in a fantastic way.  Really!  

At the end of today's exercise, you will be halfway to your Guiding Star plan.  I find once I'm halfway, I don't turn back.  I hope that is true for you as well.

Thank you to Creataviter, Ashley Kerns for the inspiration for today's exercise.

Today, you will create a slogan.  That slogan will live with you this year.  That slogan will begin a paradigm shift in your existence.

Huh?  Alright, time for definitions.  A slogan is a short and striking or memorable phrase; a motto. If you put your slogan on a Tshirt or a coffee mug, you'd be proud of it. This slogan will appear in your final Guiding Star plan. 

A paradigm shift is a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions. That's right, a simple slogan is going to guide you through a remarkable transformation, if you let it.

Okay, so I have to be honest with you.  Every year when I get to this exercise, I feel like I fail.  I feel like I'm not very good at creating slogans that actually guide me to an honest paradigm shift...or at least that's what I think (guess I need a shift there).  Yet when I look back at the paradigms I have crafted for myself, I see a HUGE change in my assumptions about my own self. 

I am telling you all of this so you aren't frustrated or surprised by the challenge of this exercise.  It's okay to be frustrated. It's okay to be lost. Feel free to ask for support. This is where you'll really appreciate your Buddy.


Take your shoes off. Enter the temple.


Materials: For this exercise, you will need something to write on or in.  A journal, a computer, or scratch paper - doesn't matter.  The results of today's exercise will be seen by your Buddy.

Time: Start with 15 minutes.  Don't be surprised if you need much more time for this exercise. This exercise usually takes me 2 hours over the course of a week.  I like to ponder it over a number of days.

The Shift and The Slogan Exercise

Look back at the list of deep messages you cultivated during yesterday's exercise. Choose one that calls to you. Hint: it will probably be at the top of the list.

Craft it into a brief positive phrase that describes what you want life to be about in 2017. It's unlikely that your slogan will address everything in your life you wish to transform. Be willing to choose one simple, but powerful focus.

Example:

Persisting works becomes: Persistence is my magic OR For best results, practice persistence daily.

Failing sucks becomes: Failure IS a glorious option OR Success and Failure: Two sides of the same coin OR Embrace failure.

Write down as many options as you can.  Get them out of your head and onto the paper.  Just write, don't edit.  Feeling stuck?  Say your slogans out loud.  You'll hear the ones that work.  Another option is to walk away, but come back later!

When you have 1 - 3 that work for you, show them to your Buddy.  See if your Buddy finds them as powerful as you do. Are they short? Are they positive?

Remember Ashley, the inspirer?  Here's her 2017 slogan. 



Always remember:
Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? One-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour through February 1, 2017 (Click here to schedule a session).

Congratulations! You're almost halfway!

Related Posts:
Find Your Guiding Star
Guiding Star #1: My Crystal Ball
Guiding Star #2: It Was The Best Of Times
Guiding Star #3: Can You Hear Me Now?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Guiding Star #3: Can You Hear Me Now?


In this exercise, we're going to explore the deep messages of your recent life. Some are already obvious to you, but others need time and space to come to the light and find the courage to reveal themselves. These messages might become part of of your final Guiding Star Plan.

I hope you've noticed the materials have been exactly the same for every exercise.  They're going to stay that way, but I'll keep listing them as a reminder.

Materials: For this exercise, you will need something to write on or in.  A journal, a computer, or scratch paper - doesn't matter.  Unlike the previous two exercises, it is likely that these will be seen by your Buddy (and whoever else you choose).

Time: I recommend that you set a timer for 15 minutes.  Like yesterday's exercise, you probably won't be done in 15 minutes, but if that's all the time you have, take it.  If you have more time, aim for 30 minutes.  Of course you can keep going for as long as you'd like.

Can You Hear Me Now? Exercise

- From your list of accomplishments and disappointments, list 5-10 reflections, either what you've learned or what you wish you could learn.

Using the accomplishments and disappointments posted yesterday, here are some examples:

Persisting works
Breathe through the tough times
Sadness and happiness are partners
Failing sucks
Life is easy

Welcome! Here you are at the first creative challenge of the Guiding Star. Can you see that you're trying to take past experiences and turn them into guides for the future? If you haven't done this type of creating before, you might find yourself lost. Give yourself patience and time.  You can leave this unfinished today and return to it tomorrow.  Or even the day after.  Or next week.  By then, you'll have a better sense of what needs to come out and appear on the page.

- Mark the messages you feel you understand deeply with a check mark. 
- Mark the messages you think you need to pay attention to with a star.
- Using only the messages from the second group, rank them in order of the ones that mean the most to you to the ones that mean the least to you.

For example:

Persisting works with Alex now all the time.  He used to give up at the first sign of failure, but he's intentionally worked on sticking with projects for the past 3 years and feels a definite shift in his attitude.  So he's putting that in the first group.

However, Alex realizes he is really challenged by life's emotional ups and downs. He often shuts down when he is sad, even though he's certain there's a better way to cope.  So he's putting both Breathe through the tough times  and Sadness and happiness are partners in the second group.

After contemplating his list overnight, Alex has decided to rank them:


Breathe through the tough times
Sadness and happiness are partners
Failing sucks

While Alex has only 3 deep messages right now, the positive action of the first one already resonates deeply with him.  He's staying open to the possibility that more will surface as he goes through the rest of Guiding Star.


- Let your Buddy know when you're finished.




Always remember:
Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? One-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour through February 1, 2017 (Click here to schedule a session).

Congratulations! You're almost halfway!

Related Posts:
Find Your Guiding Star
Guiding Star #1: My Crystal Ball
Guiding Star #2: It Was The Best Of Times




Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Guiding Star #2: It Was The Best Of Times

Remember that idea that was floating around social media last year?  No, not that one - the other one!  The one that suggested writing a note everytime something good happened and putting it in a mason jar.  Remember?!?!?  Did you do it? I did...sort of.  Here's my jar:

It's not as full as I'd like it to be!

Today's exercise, It Was The Best of Times. It Was The Worst of Times, is a variation on that theme.  Today, you are going to explore your accomplishments and disappointments over the past year.

It Was The Best of Times. It Was The Worst of Times Exercise

Materials: For this exercise, you will need something to write on or in.  A journal, a computer, or scratch paper - doesn't matter.  You are writing this for yourself.  No one else will be seeing it.

Time: I recommend that you set a timer for 15 minutes for each section.  Like yesterday's exercise, you probably won't be done in 15 minutes.  It's okay if that's all the time you have.  You can also come back to this exercise any time you want throughout the day.

- List 5-10 accomplishments of the past year. Contemplate your personal life, your career, your relationships, how you spent your time. Examples:

Saw my sister graduate from college
Kept an exercise routine for 6 months
Feb. work project was huge success
Disney World :)
Ate more vegetables
Started Invisalign
Spent a day hiking with Melinda

- Now list 5-10 disappointments of the past year. As with the accomplishments, consider all aspects of your life. Examples:

March work project failed
Didn't get the job I wanted
Mom died
Still feel angry too often
Couldn't find the time for dance classes

If you get more than 10, especially accomplishments, keep going! 

Let your Buddy know when you're finished.  Sharing this exercise is optional.

Always remember:
Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? One-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour through February 1, 2017 (Click here to schedule a session).



Congratulations! You're all done for today.

Related Posts:
Find Your Guiding Star
Guiding Star #1: My Crystal Ball

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Guiding Star #1: My Crystal Ball

Okay, let's get the Guiding Star plan going.

I've named the first exercise, My Crystal Ball, because you're going to peer into your future.

Materials: For this exercise, you will need something to write on or in.  A journal, a computer, or scratch paper - doesn't matter.  You are writing this for yourself.  No one else will be seeing it.

Time: I recommend that you set a timer for 15 minutes.  You probably won't be done in 15 minutes, but if that's all the time you've got, take it.  If you've got more time, set the timer for 30 minutes.

My Crystal Ball Exercise
Pick a date 5 years in the future, like this – Tuesday, October 7, 2022. I doesn't have to be a real date.  Begin with this sentence: 

Today is Tuesday, October 7, 2022. 

Now fire up your dreams.  Ponder these ideas and incorporate them if they work for you.

I live...describe the location – city? Town? Country? Rural? Urban? Describe your home. Is it an apartment? House? Condo? Do you own it? Was it given to you? Who lives there with you?

Today, I woke up and I....did you leave on a vacation? Did you go to your dream job? Are you taking care of your 3 children? did you sit with your coffee for 30 minutes?

Today, I feel....describe your emotional state. Are you satisfied? Fulfilled? Ecstatic? Confident? Why?

Here's a example.  

Today is Tuesday, November 12, 2022.  I have just returned from 3 amazing months in Europe.  Six galleries throughout Europe (Spain, Italy, Monte Carlo, France and Germany) held exhibits of my mixed media works.  After 10 years of working on my art, I am now selling pieces  and receiving rave reviews.  Until 2 years ago, I never imagined this kind of success.  The Chancellor of Germany came to the opening of my exhibit in Berlin!  She was so much warmer than I expected.

My partner and I have decided to finally get married.  Our relationship has been up and down and through so much turmoil, but we made a commitment to each other last year.  Melissa and I really worked on better communication and being there for each other.  She was completely supportive of my European work.  It was great that she could take 2 weeks off and join me in Paris.

My daughter is 22 and almost done with college.  Life took her on some rocky paths (which certainly contributed to my problems with Melissa), but she loves her biochemistry major and although I know nothing about the sciences, I am thrilled to see her thriving.

Get the idea?

You can also list or write phrases.  Just get it out of your head and onto paper.  There's no perfect, just you.

Let your Buddy know when you're done. Discussing or sharing this exercise is completely optional.


Alway remember:
Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? One-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour through February 1, 2017 (Click here to schedule a session).


Congratulations.  One exercise done!

Related Posts:
Find Your Guiding Star

The Women of Iceland

Every October 24th, the women of Iceland leave work early.  Not to go shopping or to get ready for a party or even to attend their kids' soccer games, but to protest wage inequality.

This started way back in 1975 (even I was young then), when the average Icelandic woman working outside of the home made less than 60%  of what a man made.  Of course the women working at home made nada, nichts, nothing.

Here's where the story gets interesting.  Instead of sticking with the status quo, the women of Iceland

went on strike

That's right.  They went on strike and not just a few, not just 50%, not even 75%.  No, my friends,

90%

of the women of Iceland went on strike that first year.

By the next year, the parliament passed a law guaranteeing equal wages for women.  Five years later, in 1980, Iceland elected Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the first woman elected to head a democracy in the world.

Don't believe me?  Here. Or here.

While wages are still unequal in Iceland, there has been improvement since 1975. In 2015, the women of Iceland left work at 2:38 pm.  Why?  Because after 2:38 pm, they are working for free, when their wages are compared to men's wages.  In 2005 they had to walk out at 2:08 pm.



Why am I giving you this history lesson?

To inspire you to take part in the upcoming Million Women March on Saturday, January 21, 2017.  While the main march is planned for Washington, DC, there will be marches held in many cities throughout the country.  Check Facebook for more information and if you can't find any for your area, let me know.  I'll help you.

There are 157,000,000 women in America (there are only 151,000,000 men).  90% of 157,000,000 is 141,300,000.  Do I expect 141,300,000 women to march on January 21?  No, I don't.  But I do dream about it.  I envision the possibilities.  I envision what a statement we can all make together. Because if we all showed up, we could be like the women of Iceland.

I think that would be a good way to start 2017.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Find Your Guiding Star

Welcome to The Guiding Star plan, a series of exercises that will assist you in creating a plan for 2017.  This plan will be your guide for the most amazing, fulfilling year of your life. 

 Using these exercises, you will design a realistic plan which will convert your deepest dreams into reasonable goals. Using these exercises, you will finally begin the true transformation of your life. Whether you want deeper relationships, professional success, a healthier lifestyle, or just time to take a bath, the Guiding Star plan will lead you there.

Why have I created Guiding Star? People say to me all the time, “I wish I had your life.” Well, guess what? A big reason for the life I have (and that you can also have) is my annual plan. It has become one of the necessary tools that I use regularly to create my life. Without my annual plan, Creatavita would still be a dream. So if you want a life like mine, here's your chance!



Guiding Star is a gift to you from Creatavita. Feel free to do it on your own. However, if you feel stuck, one-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour. This offer expires February 1, 2017 (Click here to schedule a session).

There are 8 exercises in Guiding Star. Starting tomorrow, I'll post one exercise daily. You are welcome to them at any time. I recommend you do them in the order in which they're posted. I also recommend that you take the time to do all of the exercises.

I know finding time for an activity like Guiding Star can be challenging.  I have designed each exercise to take an average of 20 minutes. Yes, you can break the time up and yes, you can take more time if you wish.

You in? Fantastic! Read the following basic guidelines and then you've got one task to do before we get started.

Guiding Star Guidelines
You've Got A Friend – A buddy will give you accountability. It's best if the buddy is also doing the plan. Giving and getting advice evens out the road and makes it easier to take the journey. If you can't find one, contact me here. I mean it.
Make A Date – You will be visiting your Guiding Star plan once a week for the first 8 weeks and then monthly for the rest of the year. With a Guiding Star in your hand and your buddy at your side, plus Creatavita available when you need it, you're going to have an amazing 2017!
Write It Down – There's nothing like seeing your dreams in black and white on paper in front of your face. It can simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. You can put it on the computer or you use a journal. Or scratch paper. That's where I start every year. Whatever you do, write it down.
Nobody Needs To Know – Except for your Buddy, no one else on this planet needs to know anything about your plan. It's not about secrecy. It's about you envisioning and moving towards your deepest desires.
Stay Positive – You will be encouraged to keep your language as positive as possible. You will suffer what you see as setbacks, but you will be encouraged to view them positively. Be prepared for bliss!
Welcome To Your 2017 – While I am your guide initially, this is your plan, your life, your 2017. You get to make changes. One of your goals dragging you down? Slogan feel stupid? Discuss it with your Buddy or me. The Guiding Star will show you the path to take.

Alright. Let's get started! Today's task:

Find A Buddy!

My Buddy lives hundreds of miles away. We're both working women with families and partners. We see each other once a year, maybe twice. We use Google Drive to share our plans as we're creating them and for our monthly reports. If one of us is working on a challenging part of our plan, we text each other. While we have been friends for many years, doing this project together has made us FFL – Friends For Life. My Buddy knows things about me no one else on this planet knows, and I like it that way.

Look for someone you trust to be honest with you. Someone who is strong enough to tell you what you need to hear, yet gentle enough to be empathetic.

And honestly guys, I am SO willing to help you find someone. Feel free to ask.

So today, find a Buddy. Share this post with them. When they agree, you are done with the first task.

Congratulations! See you tomorrow! 


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Advice From A Legend




"But there's one thing I must say. As a performer I've played for 50,000 people and I've played for 50 people and I can tell you that it is harder to play for 50 people. Fifty thousand people have a singular persona, not so with 50. Each person has an individual, separate identity, a world unto themselves. They can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty and how it relates to the depth of your talent is tried. The fact that the Nobel committee is so small is not lost on me."
Bob Dylan's 2016 Nobel Prize Banquet Speech.

As you probably know, Dylan did not appear at the awards ceremony.  His remarks were read by Azita Raji, the US Ambassador to Sweden.

You can read the entire speech here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Courageous Creativity

I've been feeling kinda punky lately.  I'll tell you more about it very soon.  However, the tide is turning inside of me. When I read this Facebook post yesterday from my friend and colleague, NaTonia Monet Harrison, my mood AND motivation took a big swing up.  I think it will inspire many of you as well.

NaTonia is asking for donations to her latest self-created project, #Unbooked, and I am shamelessly assisting her.  Anyone who is this honest and daring merits our support.  You know the drill. Do what you can.

Here's her post:

Have you ever put yourself out there?

Make yourself vulnerable enough to share what's of value to you with the world?
Maybe you have, maybe you haven't but we can agree it's hella hard to do.
I've always wanted to create and be free with my purpose in life without having the many negative judgments: "is it good?" "Is it actually funny" "what's my mom going to think?" "Am I embarrassing myself? "What if no one likes it?" "But she is a girl." "She should just stick to dancing and singing." But she is black."
Now, more than ever I feel a need to put art in the world, no matter if the form is in dance, painting, or heck, a comedy series. And it took a lot for me to put my anal judgments of myself aside to put this out there. And now I'm asking for your help.
Please help me to finish creating #UNBOOKED
***it's written
*** the filming is done
Now is the hardest part; the editing.
I often don't like asking for help. With the first series THE GREAT BLACK WAY, I tried to do everything - post, filming on my own and it was insane. The wise part of me knows that is foolish, if you don't ask the answer is always no, And I also know it takes a village. With the political climate today especially with people of color, I feel it's important to get the art out and let it speak.
As an artist of color, creating work is just one way I like to think of as resisting! Resisting a society that judges, trolls, and that wants us to think our differences aren't beautiful and to find supremacy in a skin color, sexual orientation, gender preference or way of life.
This is my way of putting myself out there, and asking for my art, and my heart.
Thank you.
Love always,




Friday, December 9, 2016

Another Way Through The Holidays

Creatavita's annual holiday survival guide.  
First published way back in 2013.  
Be well my friends!

So, this won't be a news flash to any of you, but while you weren't looking, the holiday season officially arrived. Oh boy. That annual mix of joy, dread and exhaustion. The expectations are high for all of us – peace on earth, good will to men and the presents better be perfect. Every last one of them. Well, guess what darlings. I am here to throw out this radical idea - you do not have to do everything this holiday season. You do not have to buy every gift, attend every party, and keep every tradition ever known to every generation of your family or your neighborhood. Yes, I am here to say - choose the traditions that matter the most to you.



Here's my personal example. Christmas cards. Who doesn't love Christmas cards? Me too. But at some point the act of writing the annual letter or choosing the best card for each of the 179 people on our list, adding one sincere sentence to every letter or card, addressing the envelopes, and even putting on the stamps tipped from being a pleasure-filled activity to drudgery. Friends, when the act of wishing someone Merry Christmas feels like drudgery, you know you've got a problem.

So I stopped. I didn't send any Christmas cards one year. The world didn't come crashing down and there were still presents for me under the tree. So I didn't send any the next year either. That might have been the year when I sat in my office one hot August afternoon and wrote a lovely letter in place of Christmas cards. Another brilliant idea born. And although I've been known to skip a year here and there, that's what I do now - I choose another time of the year and send out a greeting. Some years a letter, some years one of those snappy photo cards I create online. Some years a Valentine, some years a Spring greeting. You know what? People seem to love receiving a truly joy-filled greeting at another time of the year. I love sending the greeting at another time of the year, when I'm not stressed to the max with holiday musts, and when I know there's a good chance my letter is the only personally-addressed envelope showing up in mailboxes around the world. And in all of the years that I've bucked tradition, I've had three people say to me “hey, where's my Christmas card?” Or “Haven't heard from you in a while. Are you still alive?” Three.



I have an assignment for you.  The good news is there is no test.  I want you to contemplate the holiday traditions that have true meaning for you. Keep those. Then I want you to consider the ones that feel like drudgery. See if you can get rid of one or two of those. Then I want you to seek out some serenity. Because.


Note:  The photos in this post come from a holiday trip I took in 2008 to Bulgaria.  The final one is of Bulgarian Mummers.  Yes, there are Mummers in Bulgaria.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Fascinating

Take a look at Dictionary.com's word of the year.

The statistics are particularly fascinating.



Thanks to Liesl Johnson at Make Your Point, my vocabulary is improving daily.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Why Me?

I sang a Christmas concert last Sunday.

I've been singing this concert for, um.....20 years.  Maybe more.  I'm not sure.

I have mixed emotions about this concert.  On the one hand, I love the opportunity.  On the other hand, because this concert always features a mix of classical and popular music, I have to really focus my preparation.  Then there's the fact that it is always on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and to be honest, I am never mentally ready for Christmas music that soon after Thanksgiving.  I know - First World problems. Obviously, I get over it.


The concert went very well this year.  I figured out one way to raise my excitement level - retail therapy!  Yup, a Black Friday deal gave me a new outfit to wear. So I looked good and I sang even better.  Fine.

But.

At the post-concert reception (which features the best cookies on the planet.  And they're FREE.), a woman approached me.  She looked me in the eye and said, "I really didn't want to come today.  I was having a bad day and I definitely wasn't in the mood for Christmas music.  But I have to tell you, your singing lifted my spirits."

I noticed the tiniest of tears gathering in her eyes.  She continued,  "I feel so much better now.  I think I'm going to make it.  Thank you."

Thank you, Universe, for the reminder.  Why me?  Because my music, my art, my creativity might just change a life.

As you wander through this holiday season - especially those of you that are singing Messiah for the 6,392nd time or performing 80+ performances of Christmas Carol, or singing Angels We Have Heard On High for the 45,368th time - remind yourself that you also might be changing a life with your music, your story-telling, your art, your creativity.

Or even just a look in someone's eyes.





Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Grateful


Let's pause, take a breath and ponder.  While the world feels challenging right now, we can all find at least one thing to be thankful for.

I am thankful for all of you.  I mean it.  You inspire me to reveal, to question, to write, to be there for you.  Making the road easier, letting you know you're not the only one, confirming that you can follow your dreams - these are my goals here at Creatavita.

Happy day of thanks.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday Morning Quotes

These words struck me, so I wrote them down for you.  And for me.

Both come from recent articles in The New Yorker.

"I suffered a good deal from the contradiction between knowing writing was the job I was born for and finding nowhere to have that knowledge confirmed."




"Actually, 'Hallelujah' had taken him five years.  He drafted dozens of verses and then it was years more before he settled on a final version.  In several writing sessions, he found himself in his underwear, banging his head against a hotel-room floor."





Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Moving Forward, Part II

Didn't I write a post with this same title a few months ago?  I did, and more of you read that post as well as its companion pieces, The Waiting Game and Walking Through Fire than any other posts on this blog.  Thank you!  From those numbers, I'm going to assume that means you are interested in me and how I navigate my creative life.  We learned last week that numbers can be very misleading, so if I'm wrong, please let me know, either through comments right here on the blog or on your favorite social media outlet.

Here in the US, we're moving forward. For some that movement is joyous, filled with hope for the future.  For others (like me), that movement is with heaviness and deep concern.  I'm honestly struggling with moving forward.  Here's how I'm coping:

Healthy Living - I'm starting every day with exercise. I'm trying to eat as well as possible. I'm trying to limit my vices - tortilla chips (particularly the Acme made-in-store variety), wine and chocolate (I'm such a cliche).

Meditation - I'm meditating daily. Yesterday, I chose a guided meditation on loving-kindness. The guide asked me to think of someone with whom I have difficulties. I was brave and made the difficult choice. It wasn't the best meditation session I've ever had, but I did feel better, not only when I finished, but as I went through my day.


Carl Lutz Memorial in Budapest.
Carl Lutz, a Swiss diplomat, is credited with saving the lives of 62,000 Jews during WWII.

Mindful - every time I pick up a device or turn on the television, I ask myself why.  What is the intention?  What am I seeking? Am I going to find it there?


Go Outside - When I feel the urge to randomly check, I put the device down and I walk outside.  I look up in the sky and I breathe.  This morning I saw a bright red big ol' cardinal hanging around in our backyard! I felt like he had landed in that tree just for me. Two weeks ago, I saw a darling juvenile woodpecker!  I did! Her black and white feathers sparkled in the sunshine.  Much better than reading yet another post full of information or opinions that I have already heard.

Bye Bye Love - I’m not off of social media completely, but I am on a diet.   After participating in some intense and interesting discussions, I have said just about all I feel is necessary to say right now. I reserve the right to change my mind.

The Jewish Cemetery in the former Jewish Ghetto in Prague, Czech Republic.
Seems odd to me that people used to be forced to live in ghettos.  Or does it? Does it to you?

What You Want, Baby I Got It
- Respect. I am using that word more these days, as in "I respectfully disagree with you." I should have been using it earlier. I regret that now.

Choose Wisely - I’m that annoying Facebook friend that debunks your crazy posts.  Blame it on my excellent public school education back in Wisconsin, where I was taught to check my sources.  These days, my favorite sources for news are The Washington Post and Nextdraft. I have always relied on Snopes for debunking.

Good Morning, Budapest!

Take Action - We all know what a fan I am of action.  I experienced the benefits this morning.  I woke up feeling depressed which led to a foreboding sense of anxiety.  Not good.  After my walk and meditation, I pulled out my accordion and practiced.  Then I worked on a song.  I hit that sweet spot of flow and time flew by.  In addition, I felt SO MUCH BETTER, a feeling that has stayed with me through the entire day.

Then there's action to make changes in the world.  I know I'm still too emotional to make the best decisions, but I have made a commitment to study one issue for the rest of 2016.  When the new year arrives, I will decide if I want to devote more time to this issue.  I have decided to study gerrymandering.  My current goal is to spend 30 minutes every week researching this issue.   Public accountability is a daunting proposition for me! Will you readers hold me to that?  Will you ask me for updates? 

Rock Steady - These thoughts come from the marvelous Meg Townsend of Aluna Adventures:

Steadiness doesn't always get the pomp and circumstance it deserves. It doesn't always feel exciting or new to people. But when we create steadiness and stability in our lives, it actually creates MORE SPACE for energy to flow. We find ourselves more inspired, flowing with creative energy, more passionate, and with great vital reserve.

May you all find the way to move forward as well.