Sunday, December 31, 2017

Guiding Star 2018 #5: Look At My 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 under your breath.  It's okay.  I'm happy to guide you 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 and 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.

Look At My Hats Exercise

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.

#1 - 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.
Joy Giver
Bread Winner

#2 - Are there any hats you'd like to be wearing that don't appear on that list? Write them down.
Rabble Rouser
Power Broker
Mover and Shaker
Community Advocate

#3 - Combining both lists, order your many hats from the one that takes the most time and attention to the one that takes the least. Don’t be surprised if  hats on the second list appear at the bottom of this list.

#4 - 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.

#5 - 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 pragmatist in you to go out for coffee while you are working on this list.

#6 - 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:
Sad Sack

Her dream list might look like this:
Mover and Shaker
Giver of Smiles

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 2018.

- Tell your Buddy when you're finished.

Always remember:
Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? Starting January 4, 2018, one-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour. This offer expires on February 1, 2018. (Click here to schedule a session).

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Guiding Star 2018 #4: The Shift and The Slogan

How are you doing? Is Guiding Star driving you nuts? Ot is it energizing you? You are standing at the cusp of the biggest year of your life. One simple step continues the journey. That’s exciting to me! It is your choice.

At the end of today's exercise, you will be halfway to your Guiding Star plan. Halfway is huge. I find once I'm halfway into a project, it is much harder to give up. Why give up when I've done so much work? I hope that is true for you as well.

Today, you will create a slogan. This slogan will live with you this year. This 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. Unlike some of the previous exercises, the slogan you create in this exercise 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.

The Shift and The Slogan Exercise

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.

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 2018. 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.

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?

One of my favorite creative souls, Ashley Kerns, created this slogan:

Always remember:
Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? Starting January 4, 2018, one-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour. This offer expires on February 1, 2018. (Click here to schedule a session).

Friday, December 29, 2017

Guiding Star 2018 #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 this exercise 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

#1 - From your list of accomplishments and disappointments, list 5-10 reflections, either what you've learned or what you wish you could learn. Keep the reflections brief. Aim to use active words in the present tense.

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

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? Starting January 4, 2018, one-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour. This offer expires on February 1, 2018. (Click here to schedule a session).

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Guiding Star 2018 #2: It Was The Best of Times It Was The Worst

Perhaps you keep a gratitude journal or have a gratitude practice. Perhaps you intend to have a gratitude practice, but never seem to get to it.

Today's exercise, It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Worst of Times, is a variation on the gratitude practice concept. Today, you are going to explore your accomplishments and disappointments over the past year. Looking at both sides helps as we consider what we want to discard and what we want to keep in our lives.

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 see it, unless you choose to show 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 anytime you want throughout the day.

Here we go:

#1 - 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

#2 - 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? Starting January 4, 2018, one-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour. This offer expires on February 1, 2018. (Click here to schedule a session).

Congratulations! You're all done for today.

Related Posts:
Your Guiding Star 2018
Guiding Star #1: My Crystal Ball

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Guiding Star 2018 #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 see it, unless you choose to show it to them.

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, 2023. Don’t concern yourself with choosing an actual date, just choose a date 5 years in the future. Begin with this sentence:

Today is Tuesday, October 7, 2023.

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 an example:

Today is Tuesday, November 12, 2023. 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.

That light is for you

Congratulations on taking the first step on the path to your Guiding Star!

Alway remember:
Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? Starting January 4, 2018, one-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour. This offer expires on February 1, 2018. (Click here to schedule a session).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Your Guiding Star 2018

Well, well, well, 2018 is around the corner. Time for Guiding Star, the plan that will transform your life into the one that you know is waiting for you.

I asked one of this year's fervent participants, Rachel Gitel DeMasi to reflect on what Guiding Star did for her in 2017.

Guiding Star puts things into perspective. It makes you think things through and come up with realistic and specific goals. There is a sense of encouragement when you plot and plan with your future in mind. I especially loved coming up with a personal slogan.

Although Guiding Star is a doable and fun exercise, it does require some thought. I did find myself having a hard time making a list of more than 3-4 goals and to try to make them as specific as possible. BUT this actually brought to the forefront the wishes and goals for myself that I didn't know I had!

I'm particularly pleased to have accomplished these three Guiding Star goals this year:

1. Adopted two fur babies (one male and one female-Gus and Ruby).
2. Saved more money than I ever have before. Not the amount I specified in my goal, but definitely a bigger sum than last year.
3. Took a class that intimidated me. Had a great time AND learned some new skills!

If you didn't participate in 2017, consider jumping in for 2018. Look at what happened for Rachel and for me. I know having a plan is a huge part of my ability to thrive. Nudge...nudge.

The Guiding Star Plan
Welcome to The Guiding Star plan, a series of exercises that will assist you in creating a plan for 2018. 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 is available starting January 4, 2018 and expires on February 1, 2018 (Click here to schedule a session).

There are 7 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 2018!

Write It Down – There's nothing like seeing your dreams in black and white on paper in front of your face. It can be 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 2018 – While I am your guide initially, this is your plan, your life, your 2018. 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!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Photo Friday Number 3

I will love the light for it shows me the way, 
yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.
Click on Og's name to find out more about him.
Photo: Sunrise, Mount Sinai, Egypt.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

These Are For You

Each one of us has abilities, skills, qualities, that make us unique. We often end up accepting these qualities as typical of everyone, and therefore, nothing special.They are such a part of who we are and how we operate that we do not recognize how valuable they actually are. It is as if we become immune to their power. While these can be big, mighty talents, it is often the simplest of qualities that we take for granted - our ability to make others smile or laugh; our ability to listen, to say the right thing; our ability to reach out, to be accepting of others; our ability to express ourselves.

This last one - the ability to express - this is the one we creators often take for granted. Most of us were born with an innate ability to express ourselves. We've always been "emotional", bold, "sensitive", daring, fearless. We don't know life without this ability. Usually, we surround ourselves with others with the same abilities. This leads us to assuming that everyone has this ability.

Which leads me to Du.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Shanghai. I was returning back to the theatre, feeling wistful about having to leave this romantically charming city the next day.

A beautiful young woman approached me. Gentle in demeanor, I was surprised when she called me by name. After all, I was Nun Number 9 in this production.

Nun Number 9. I spend much of the show in the back, a byproduct of being tall. Consequently I assume I am, not quite invisible, but nondescript. Nun Number 9. My distinguishing physical features are erased by my costume, as a nun's habit purpose is to hide the body or, at the very least, take away the individuality. Even my husband has trouble distinguishing me from my colleagues. Consequently, I was surprised that someone could pick me out.

I was even more surprised when she said,

"Heidi, these are for you," and handed me a beautiful bag filled with Chinese herbal throat medicines and a dozen peach-colored roses.

It just so happens that I really like peach-colored roses.
I had used the loquat cough syrup before, but the other herbal
remedy was new to me.

Du and me on that first hot Sunday in Shanghai

These are for you, Heidi. Those words hit me hard. How did she know who I was?

Out of surprise and respect, I offer my gratitude to Du, and a friendship (well, a modern friendship, fostered by Facebook) begins.

I carry the roses with me to our next city, Hangzhou, keeping them in my room until they crumble to dust, a reminder that my creative work has reached a stranger.

I take the herbal medicines with me back to the US, grateful that I am least so far.

And I think, except for some Facebook likes and comments and the occasional message, this will be the end of my acquaintance with Du.

My life goes on. I return to the tour and we move to Tokyo, then Seoul.

Then I get a message from Du, telling me she is traveling to Seoul to see our show and asking if some of the cast would be available to say hello. Of course we are, stunned and humbled that our work has inspired someone to travel internationally to see us (although my Chinese friends assure me Seoul isn't that far from Shanghai). This time Du has gifts for the entire cast and for me, the most thoughtful gift possible - yarn for my knitting habit. Throughout my life, knitting has given me hours of pleasure; a pleasure I have happily passed on, including many of my colleagues on this tour.

Du in the middle, Rebecca Mason-Wygil on the right and me.

Du's mother (who is also a knitter) also traveled to Seoul.

Actually, this is the second box of yarn I've been given from China.
I didn't expect to receive so much yarn in China.

The box. Just so interesting to me.

I spend the following days absolutely baffled. What have I done that is so attractive to Du? What did I say? Have I led Du astray? Some of my colleagues seem a tad envious, so I don't discuss it much. But I spend hours considering on my own.

Du gives me some clues. In one of her FB posts, she admits to being shy. She tells me that I have given her the confidence to take a step out of her shy world. I start to realize what I have done.

Self-admittedly shy. No wonder Du is attracted to this big, glitzy, American story about timid, joyless nuns breaking out of their dreary lives. No wonder Du is attracted to the actor who tells this story and then pays attention to her. Not only pays attention, but acknowledges her and the gift she has given - the gift of gratitude, of acknowledgment that even Nun Number Nine's story has touched her.

I am still awed and a tad confused as to what Du is actually teaching me. That one of those inherent qualities that I take for granted, can have a strong impact on someone else? I think so. That we can change lives for the better simply by acknowledging other people exist? I want to believe this with every fiber of my being.

So this is Du's story, Du's legacy, if you will.

Du reminded me that my work really matters. Even when I think I'm inconsequential. You never know who you are inspiring.

Now I sing with joy, now I dance with even more joy. Now when I don't want to go to work (forgetting how blessed I am to get paid to tell stories), I think there might be a Du in the audience tonight. I might change a life.

And so, my friends, these are for you. These words, these ideas. May they inspire you as much as Du inspired me.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Photo Friday Number 2

Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.

Read more about Franz here

Eilean Donan Castle in Dornie, Scotland.