Sunday, January 28, 2018

Guiding Star 2018 Week #4: Touchstones


Sister Act closed in Seoul last Sunday evening. By mid-day Monday, I began the trek back to Bryn Mawr, arriving in time for lunch with Beloved on Tuesday. What's next? I don't know for sure, but I do know it will be fantastically creative.

Stars. Everywhere I go. Stars.

Let's talk about your Touchstones this week.  These little phrases can be incredibly potent. I had no idea how potent, until I spent last year with one of my personal Touchstones - Listen. If you've forgotten how powerful my experience with Listen was, you can read the post I wrote here.

These are my 2018 Touchstones:

- Listen

- Persisting brings joy

- Release your grasp

- Join the Universe's vibration

Last year, I had three Touchstones; this year, four. I've never had more than three Touchstones before, but while I was crafting my Guiding Star, these four felt very powerful. They wouldn't leave me alone. So I brought them all along into 2018. Also, I am repeating two from 2017. Both led me to incredible insights about myself and I think they have more to show me. I'm not leaving that joy behind!

How do I work with my Touchstones? I aim to ponder them daily. Just think about them, how they might work in my life. I don't allow this to be difficult; I do it while I'm doing daily tasks, or walking, or commuting. I've been struggling with my social media consumption, so I'm considering thinking of a Touchstone before I head to Facebook. I think this might make me more aware of how I use social media as a distraction, as well as bring some more useful attitudes into my thoughts. I'll let you know if it works.

Join Amazon Prime - Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime - Start Free Trial Now

Okay, 2 final things to tell you.

#1 - I'm leaving you alone with your Guiding Star Plans for a month. No worries, I'll still be blogging about other creative needs and desires.

#2 - The clock is ticking down on the super-duper discount!  One-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour through February 4, 2018 (Click here to schedule a session).

No more palaces for me. At least for now.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Guiding Star 2018 Week #3: Stay Focused, My Friends

One year ago, the Week #3 post focused on my involvement (along with 20 members of my extended family) in the Million Women March. Here we are 365 days later, still organizing, speaking up, resisting. Some days I feel like there hasn't been enough change. You too?

Those are the days I have to remind myself to

Stay focused

Instead of just getting frustrated (with where I am in life, with the state of our country, with my own perceived sense of lack), I now acknowledge the frustration and then I take a new path - I open up my Guiding Star plan. Yes I do. Because I know I will find answers there; I will find the next step I need to take and how I need to take it; and most importantly, I will find the motivation to stay focused. That's why I love Guiding Star so much. In those moments when I am disappointed, unmotivated or lack self confidence, my Guiding Star plan rarely lets me down. Almost always, I find the answer there.

Believe it or not, just like me, you designed your Guiding Star plan for this exact moment.  Now's the time to open that plan up, spend a few minutes with it.  Need to adjust a Touchstone?  Go ahead.  Need to adapt a goal?  Do it. Then choose one aspect of your Guiding Star plan to focus on this week. It can be highlighting one Touchstone, or spending 10 minutes on a Goal, or reminding yourself every morning of your Hat. Doesn't matter. Make it simple so you can be proud of your accomplishment.

Most importantly, stay focused, my friends.

Last year's March. I like being reminded of the energy we all
felt that day.

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, January 19, 2018

Photo Friday Number 5

A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

Photo: Street sweeper, Muslim Quarter, Xi'an, China 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Guiding Star 2018 Week #2: Stand Up For You

I woke up this morning and the first thought I had was:

Embrace magnificent abundance and navigate gracefully.

On Monday, I sent an email to a dialects coach.

Small actions, right? You bet. Both are a part of my 2018 Guiding Star plan. Embrace etc. etc. is my Slogan this year and improving my abilities with dialects is one of my Goals.

One thing I have learned from following a life plan is that most of the work happens in small steps, so I ask you:

What did you do to work with your Guiding Star plan this week?

And here's what I want you to do with the answer to that question - tell another human. Just one. Your Buddy is the preferred human, but the barista at your favorite coffee shop will also work. Or you can comment on this post, right here on Creatavita. I know the comments section is currently rather obscure and I intend to resolve that, but for now, we're all going to have to live with it.

You know why this is your task, right? You know that speaking your answer out loud or in a public forum (even an elite forum like the Comments section of Creatavita :)), you are making yourself accountable, and that accountability is HUGE.

When we tell others about our goals and plans, we're more inclined to do the work. We're also more inclined to respect the work ourselves, which in the end leads to self-respect. Self-respect gets us somewhere. Self-respect tells us to put down the device and start writing, start practicing, start painting. Self-respect tells us we are meant to do this creative work and we must take the necessary steps to see that work be fulfilled. Self-respect tells us, "stand up for you".

If you're one of the fortunate ones and are blessed with extra time and/or energy, here are other simple tasks you can try this week:

- Take 15 minutes to read your plan. 

- Still feeling odd when contemplating your Slogan?  Stay persistant. Give your self some time.

- How about working on one Goal this week?

- Writing down what's working and what isn't might help. It's worth a try.

- If you are someone's Buddy, this week is a good time to check in.  Encourage some action, even a small step.  We don't need to solve global poverty this week, but if we spend 15 minutes on it, we will get somewhere.

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, January 11, 2018

Your Younger Self

A fun creative exercise is writing a letter to your younger self.

Here's an excellent example, courtesy of former NBA basketball player, Quentin Richardson. Notice I didn't call him a former star.

Letter to My Younger Self

Stop rolling your eyes. Read it!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Guiding Star Week #1: How We Doin'?

I love this time of year. I love the possibilities that fill my soul with hope as well as the fresh energy surrounding me, as I talk to others about their dreams, their goals, their intentions for 2018.  If you're giving Guiding Star a try, you really know what I'm talking about.

Let's turn to our Guiding Star plans. As I promised, I'm not going to get you started and then turn you out into your cold, cruel lives all alone.  I'll be checking in frequently for the first 2 months, standing next to you and, hopefully, providing insight and motivation.

You've got one simple task this week.  If you did Guiding Star last year, it's the same simple task. You ready?

Spend 15 minutes with your plan.

That's it.  Take 15 minutes to read and ponder your plan.

Some questions to fire your pondering.

- Any events this past week that felt different because of your plan?

- How's it going as you incorporate the Slogan and Touchstones into your life?

I know. Me too. It's a challenge. When I first incorporated these phrases into my life, it felt downright hokey.  But I kept doing the work, mainly because my Buddy was so insistent at the changes she had experienced.  Sometimes, it still feels hokey to me.  Not as much as it used to.  Plus, I've had some mind-blowing experiences where I felt the slogan or touchstones working, like this and this.  That was enough to convince me to work through the hokey times.

By the way, I am recycling my 2017 Slogan, which is:

Embrace magnificent abundance and navigate gracefully.

I know you might not believe me, but I have trouble accepting the abundance of my life. Even after twelve months with this Slogan. So I'm keeping it and seeing where it guides me in 2018.

Back to questions to ponder this week:

- Any events coming in the next week which could use a different mental approach?  Can Guiding Star help?

- Can you begin working on one goal?  

Even working on a task for 10 minutes will feel good.  Taking one step is better than none.

Bonus: If you want to spend more time with your plan this week, take the time to write a brief "report".  Did you start on a goal?  Did you notice an attitude change?  Did you get frustrated?  Having these reports (which we'll all be doing on a monthly basis) to look back on as the year progresses are fantastic. You'll see progress when you thought nothing was happening, which will make your motivation zoom.

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).

Sunrise on Mt. Sinai

Friday, January 5, 2018

Photo Friday Number 4

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.

Photo: Sri Senpaga Vinagayar Temple, Singapore

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Guiding Star 2018 #7: The Plan

Here we are.  The final Guiding Star exercise.  All the contemplating, pondering, grumbling (yeah, I hear you), and questioning is over.  Today you compile your plan. I've created a Google Document to assist this final exercise, which you are welcome to modify. You have to use this template, you really do. Having your plan in writing will keep you inspired and motivated all year. Below you'll find some final guidance.

Okay, let's get going.

Materials: For this exercise, I suggest you head to your computer.  For ease of sharing, my Buddy and I use Google Docs.  Your Buddy will be seeing this document at least once a month.

Time:  At this point in the process, you'll likely be able to complete your master plan in 30 minutes. I would be surprised if you need more than 60 minutes.

Guiding Star Plan
This link should lead you to a template for your plan. You should be able to copy  and paste the document into your favorite program.  As I said above, feel free to modify.  

- Fill out the areas with the delightful material you've created through the exercises.  Explanations for each section follow:

Over the year, your Slogan will become the most important part of your Guiding Star.  We’ll put it at the top of the plan.

These are the deep messages you uncovered in Exercise #3: Can You Hear Me Now?  Find the 3 that fill you with the most passionate energy.  Write them here.

From your list of Hats, choose one to be your Focus for the year.  Believe it or not, I find it best to choose one that has been ignored.  You'll know which one it is; it's usually crying out to you. Go ahead.  Pick the ridiculous one.  The life you are meant to live is underneath that one.

Here we are!  The fun discoveries from yesterday's exercise.  Remember we are looking for a blend of professional and personal, necessary and desired.  The minimum is 5; the maximum is 10.  Be realistic.  Keep them simple.  You’ll feel so good if you achieve a goal, even if it feels ridiculously simple.

- When your plan is complete, share it with your buddy. Ask them to review it one last time. Listen to their feedback and make any changes you both agree are needed.

- Now, pay attention.  This next step is simple, yet crucial. Pick a monthly date when you will write your report and share it with your buddy. Write it in your calendar, on your to-do list, set a reminder on your phone, do whatever you need to do to honor that date.  Example:

I am starting my Guiding Star plan on Sunday, Jan. 8.  I have put a note on my to-do list on Wednesday, Feb. 8 (and every following 8th day of the month for the rest of the year) reminding me to write my monthly plan and share it with my Buddy.

- Now, pay attention again. This next step is also simple and also crucial. You need to cultivate a new habit, that of visiting your Slogan and Touchstones daily.  How are you going to do that?  Will you memorize them and ponder them when you wake up?  Will you write them on a card and carry it with you?  Will you send yourself an electronic reminder?

- Finally, pay attention one last time.  You guessed it - another simple, yet crucial step.  For the first 2 months of your Guiding Star plan, I urge, no, I exhort you to review your plan weekly.  All you must do is look at it and reflect on how you are incorporating your plan into your life.  That's all.  FYI, I like to do this on Sunday evening.  It is usually a quiet time in my life.

You made it! Your 2018 Guiding Star plan is complete! Now the fun begins! Don't worry, I'm not leaving you alone. I'll be guiding you along, particularly in the first three months.

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).

Monday, January 1, 2018

Guiding Star 2018 #6: Goals

Today's exercise is my favorite.  Today we find the specific goals you want to focus on for the next 12 months.  If you're like me, this is where you'll find your personal motivation for the next year of your life. This is where you'll do the actual work.  This is where you'll see results.

At this point, I'm going to turn this post over to my Buddy/Coach, Jean McDonald.  Jean wrote the ideal post about Goals.  Read on!

My Year of Joy
I am a goal person. I have been setting (and achieving) 8-10 goals per year for the past 16 years. Last year, as I was looking over the last few years of goals, I saw that I almost always achieved the goals that were work-related, and I almost never allowed myself to follow through on the one or two goals I had that were just for me, for fun.

Ridiculous! I was turning 50 in February, and I decided to celebrate the entire year (my wonderful husband’s idea), and set only goals that sounded fun. I wrote my goals in 20 minutes (unheard of), and quickly sent them off to my awesome coach, Heidi Hayes, before I could change my mind. She responded immediately with a strong “Yes!!”

I threw myself into attaining my goals. My major focus was “Fun Seeker,” (Heidi here - That's what we're calling your Hat) and just looking at that phrase gave me a thrill. I took a short retreat, went on a canoe trip with my family, took a jewelry making class and tried Zumba. My husband agreed to a vacation at the Grand Canyon for our family – to celebrate my 50th year on the planet. Talk about Joy! Yes! This was my best year yet!

Then I stumbled. There were a few goals that included other people. I hesitated to ask them, they have busy lives too, right? Well, I was determined to achieve these goals, so I reached out and asked for help. Guess what happened? The people in my life were happy to help! In fact, I realized that the only way that some of my joy goals could happen was if my friends and family stepped in to help. Asking for help has never been easy for me, but what a big payoff. We were doing fun stuff, so my relationships were benefitting from my goals. I met my sister for a bike ride, I took an extreme hike with Heidi, I took my family to see a show. More Joy!

Now, as I look back at my year, I remember the moments of joy – big and small – and I realize that I have learned a few things. Perhaps this list will help you find more joy:

1. Allow yourself to set goals that sound fun and exciting to you.
2. Enlist the help of your family and friends. They will be happy to help!
3. Let the chores go more. They will always be there, and if you wait for them to be done, you will never have time for joy.
4. Look for small moments of joy. They abound!

And now, Joyful Reader. What will you do for yourself for the next year? Just for fun.

I’m wishing you abundant joy, the kind that bubbles up inside you and lifts you up.


With Jean's fantastic story and tips in mind, let's get to work.

Goals 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 you're definitely going to want more time.  Spread it out over a few days.  Work as you can and stay as joyful and engaged as you can.  If this becomes heavy, change your approach.  Look for the fun first.

- Light a candle or find some delightful music to play.  Or both!
- It can be helpful to set a timer to a shorter period of time.  This will keep your brain focused on this single task.
- List anything you would like to accomplish in the next 12 months.  Anything.  Don't edit. Aim for a minimum of 5 goals. If the timer goes off and you're not finished, you can keep going, but I would suggest no more than 60 minutes.

Choose active, positive words.  Setting time limits within the goal is extremely helpful.  Example:

Tonya wants to lose weight.  She starts with the goal of lose 10 pounds.  She has failed at this goal for years, but knows it is important. She rephrases the goal as attend one exercise class every week for three months. The specificity of this goal (one class per week for three months) feels doable to Tonya. It's also realistic - even though Tonya works fulltime and cares for her father on the weekends, she already has an exercise class she enjoys in her schedule.  In addition, maintaining a specific commitment for a realistic amount of time (three months) will help Tonya create a habit.  Finally, unlike the abstract lose 10 pounds of the original goal, Tonya has more control over achieving this goal. That feels good to Tonya.  No, wait - that feels exciting to Tonya!

- Assign each goal A, B or C.  A is for priority goals, B is for important goals and C is for goals that could wait.
- Review your rankings.  Have you included a mix of personal and career goals?  Are you excited by all of the goals?  Have you used specific, active and positive language?
- Choose 10 goals that will be your 2018 goals.  If 10 feels overwhelming, choose fewer.
- Ask your Buddy to review your goals, specifically looking for realistic, positive and enjoyable goals.

Well friends, tomorrow is the final day of creating your Guiding Star plan.  Look at the fresh approach you have crafted for the next 12 months in one brief week.  This is exciting!

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).