Frazzle Dazzle

Holiday time! Sparkly decorations and parties and food and friends and family time! Frazzled time? Sometimes.  This time of year can leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed rather than warm and fuzzy.  So what to do about it?

Holiday Mix 2

One of my favorite de-frazzlers is list making.  I know!  I saw you rolling your eyes.  I’m not talking about the productivity lists, the every-single-minute-accounted-for lists, the lists with so many items there’s no way you can do everything in one day, nothing like that.  I’m talking useful, calming lists.  Want to give it a try?

First, decide what the actual purpose is for making this list. Is it to make sure we don’t forget to do certain things that we want to get done? Or is it that we have so many things that we think we need to do that we can’t possibly keep track of all of them without a list? The former is a good reason. The latter might indicate that your lists need some work. Figure out what you really want from a to-do list, what you want it to do for you, and go from there.

For me, I want my lists to be filled with things I really want to do in a day, things that will make my life better or easier, things that will move me forward in my creative dreams, things that I can put on a done list at the end of the day if I want to make one and feel really good about having done. I want my list to be like a friendly guide showing me the way to where I want to be.

How do you turn your lists into friendly guides to the life you want?

Tip #1: Cut down your daily list drastically. Only add on things that move you forward in the important areas of your life or things that you really do want to do today that you are worried might slip through the cracks of a busy day (that’s why my list tells me to make a grocery list—so I don’t end up at the store trying to remember what I need to buy). Don’t put down every little thing you think you want to do or should do today. Just put down the truly important stuff.

Tip #2: Prioritize. Some days you will have things that really do need to be done that day. Put those at the top of your list. After that, prioritize by what pulls you the most, the things that feel like they will really move you in the direction you want to go. Some days you might need to rest and be calm because life has been too hectic lately, so you might put “knitting” or “painting” on your list, and you might want to put it fairly high up because you really want to fit that in. Let what is important to you today, right now, guide you in deciding how to order your list.

Tip #3: Categorize. Decide on the areas of life you want to give time and attention to regularly. Maybe even make a master list of sorts (for me, my master list is writing, coaching, organizing my house into a haven, and improving my health). This shouldn’t be a very long list—probably no more than five things. Make sure that your daily list has something from at least one or two of these areas so you know you’re working on the things that are most important to you.

Here are some questions to ask yourself after you write your list:

  • Does this list make me feel like I’m going to fill my day with important things I want to do?
  • Will completing the tasks on this list make me feel like I’ve done a good day’s work?
  • Does this really need to be on my list?
  • Is there some way to make doing this easier, more pleasant, more fun?
  • What part of my life does this item make better?
  • Will something bad happen if I don’t do this today?
  • Will something bad happen if I throw out this idea and just don’t do it at all?
  • If this really needs to be done but I don’t want to do it, can I pass it on to someone else?

Let your intuition guide you as you add and remove things from your list. Ask yourself how you feel about adding or removing a task. Experiment with leaving off things you thought for sure you needed to have on your daily list. Let your list become a helper instead of your keeper, and give yourself more time to actually go out and do the things you like.

A little end note—NPR offers a list of reasons to make lists: 10 Reasons Why We Love Making Lists. Lots of great reasons and ways to use lists for your best interests.

And another note: this article was originally published in my newsletter, although I’ve edited it for the blog and added a new picture.  Doing a blog post was on my list of things to do for the week, but I’ve been feeling too busy, so I used the “how can I make this easier?” question and came up with something I hope will be useful to all of us.

On My Table: Space

On My Table November 12

I haven’t had much to share in the On My Table category lately with all the life happenings and the recent reconfiguring of what I do. I’ve been feeling the lack of making things, and it reminded me that for a long while I’ve been struggling with a lack of consistent journaling and writing in my life, too.

I started circling around the problem as I have umpteen times in the past couple of years. Years! (At some point I may write about how a teacher and coach falls into a trap she helps others escape, but not right now.)  I threw myself back into the maelstrom of “I need space to set out my notebooks and have them close at hand but my house is too messy and I have no room and I just can’t fix it!”  And then I reminded myself that I am a Kaizen-Muse™ Creativity Coach, for crying out loud!  I know how to deal with this sort of overwhelm–it’s what we do.  We’re overwhelm busters (among other things).  I probably should have talked to one of my fellow coaches about my difficulties–we could have gotten to this conclusion ages ago!  But, at least I’m there now.  I found an inroad into getting where I want to go.

Last night, after reminding myself that all I need to do is take one Small Step, I had an epiphany. I would like to do some of my writing and journaling at the office, but I didn’t have a good place there to set out my journal and pens and things to act as a visual reminder for me.  My journal, pens, notebook, etc. do not take up that much space.  Where could I put them?

I thought about what I needed from such a space.  Accessibility from my chair, including visually because seeing my tools makes me reach for them more often.  Enough space to open a notebook and write in it without having to move anything.  That’s pretty much it.  Did I have anything like that in my office?  Yes.  How about that catch-all corner of my desk?  It was home to random papers (hey, that’s where that recipe got to!), bottles of vitamins, expired coupons, and my fingerless gloves.  That space was plenty big enough for my writing and journaling tools.  And it’s behind me but off to the side so I see that corner in my peripheral vision every time I turn my head slightly.  It’s a perfect spot, and it was right there all along just waiting for me to look for something (some place) small.

You know how long it took me to clear the space?  Three minutes.  No, really.  Three minutes.  The recipes went into a folder of recipes I had already set up, the vitamins went into a drawer, the coupons went into the garbage, and the gloves went to the opposite corner of the desk.  Then I set my tools in the cleared space, and I was done.

Is this the perfect, end-all-be-all solution to my problem?  No.  But it’s a good start.  It’s going to make picking up my journal or notebook and writing a bit much easier.  And you know what happens when you make your work easier and do a little bit of it?  It gets even easier to do more.

The take-aways from all of this?  Your writing, your dream, your work needs space.  You do not have to have the perfect space, just space. You can do one small thing and make just a little space for yourself and your dream and get started right there.

So go!  Make some space for yourself.  Do a little something for your dream.  I’m going to go write in my journal.

I See the Future

fortune teller

I do! It looks exciting.  I don’t have all the details yet, but they are coming clearer all the time.  Woooo… (That’s a spooky ghost sound, by the way.)

Couldn’t resist.  It’s Halloween, after all, and it’s my favorite holiday.  I had to throw a little bit of cheesy spookiness in the mix.  But I have been making some plans for the future, and it’s looking pretty yummy.

First, you may have noticed that the site has a new look and a new name, MuseCraft™ Writers.  I’m loving the writerly look of it, and it’s easier to find and follow links and things in the sidebar, so navigation is easier, but it’s still fun and creative looking and not stuffy or boring at all.  I’m thrilled with it.

Don’t let the new name worry you.  I still love creativity and creating in all its forms, and I will always be interested in working with any creative who wants some company and encouragement on their path, but I will be offering a lot more packages and classes aimed at writers.

That brings me to my next bit of future fun.  In January I’ll be launching a month-to-month novel writer’s coaching package.  It will include a monthly planning session and weekly emails to help keep you motivated and moving forward in your novel writing.  I’m leaving the time open ended because some people may only need a month or two to finish a book while others may be just starting out and need more time.  Details (and a name) for this will be coming soon, but I’m so excited by the idea I couldn’t keep quiet.

Also in January I’ll be opening a free “Just 10 Minutes” group to help us keep moving on our creative dreams.  Every month we’ll all pick something to work on (a creative project, decluttering project, whatever your dream needs right then), and we’ll dig into it together ten minutes at a time.  Sign-up info on this will be coming in December.

I have a few more ideas up my sleeve, but these are the ones I’m super excited about right now, so I’m starting here.  What are you excited about this week?  Drop me a note and fill me in.

Happy Halloween!

Where’s My Map?

SeattleMap 2

Do you ever feel like you’d just love a road map that tells you exactly what to do, step by step, to get where you want to be?  I do!  I know that living a creative life and building creative dreams doesn’t work that way.  But oh, sometimes I really want it to!

I’m still working on how I want my coaching and creative lives to look.  I didn’t do anything with it last week as I had a suddenly, extremely ill kitty to worry about.  She’s out of the hospital and mending but not great, but we’re feeling hopeful now so I’m stepping back into my meditations on changing my world.

I’m figuring out how a move toward more writing-centered focus (which includes journaling, which I deeply believe is important for all creatives) will look, what my website might include, what I’ll want to write about from this new focus.  I’m figuring out how I want my shift to look and feel while I’m in the middle of it, because how the shift happens is important, too.

So how do you make a major shift in your life focus?  I like to do it Kaizen-Muse™ style (of course).  I’m starting with Small Questions to help me figure out my first Small Steps (my two favorite KMCC™ tools!)  Right now I’m asking “What does the website of a writer’s coach look like?” and “What does it talk about?”  I’m tinkering with questions about how talking about general creativity will still fit into the mix, but I don’t have a good, solid question for that yet.

If you’re looking to make a shift in your creative life (or any part of your life), I recommend starting with some good questions–questions about what things might look like in your world as you make your changes, questions about how the old will fit in with the new.  Ask your questions, and then go about your business.  You don’t need an answer right away.  Ask your questions once a day, maybe at the same time, maybe as part of a tiny ritual (I like to write mine down sometimes–in my journal, on an index card, on a sticky note).  And then don’t push for an answer.  Keep asking.  Your brain will take hold of the questions and run with them, and answers will come.  Just listen.  That’s what I’m doing right now.  I don’t know if, once I have some answers, I’ll write about it or just make my changes.  You’ll probably figure it out based on what you see here.  I do know that I’m excited to make these changes, and I hope you’ll come along for the journey.  I think there’s lots of great writing to do in the days ahead.

Miss Caisha 2

This is my darling girl when we were visiting her in the ICU veterinary hospital last week. She was already starting to feel a little better, and she’s home now, but it’s been very scary and stressful. So I couldn’t resist putting her picture here to show off the adorableness and remind myself that things are better.

 

Painting My Way Back to Writing

Collage of Me

If you’ve been reading along this year, you know I’ve been focusing mainly on painting and art journaling.  I’ve been really enjoying this immersion into visual arts, but lately I’ve been feeling the pull of language and words and story and writing.  It seems that I’ve painted my way back to being a writer!

I think having multiple creative pursuits is a good thing.  I think it keeps your mind fresh, it gives you a break from your main focus, it’s good for your brain.  And in my case trying out diving deep into just one area of my creativity really brought home to me what my first creative love is.  All of the focus on painting and art journaling gave me a creative breather and opened up some space for introspection and inner conversation on what really lights me up and brought me some good, exciting understandings of myself.

So I’m going to be focusing more on my writing again, but I won’t be giving up my other creative activities.  I will be looking at them more as the hobbies I practice in addition to my primary creative work from now on.  That feels right and comfortable for me.

What’s that going to look like around here?  I don’t know yet.  I don’t see myself not talking about art journaling, photography, painting, etc.  So that won’t go away.  I do want to start building up a coaching practice that’s more focused on writers and writing, although I am planning plenty of journaling talk and possibly some journaling classes. I deeply believe that everyone, not just writers, can benefit from some form of journaling, and I believe there’s space for all types of creatives here, not just writers.

That’s what’s on my mind right now.  I am feeling in transition, and I wanted to share a little bit about what feels like the beginning of something new.

What’s going on in your world right now?  Anything new coming up on your horizon?  I hope you let yourself be open to what might be coming your way.

Little Steps

Footsteps

I am still working to get back to some sort of normalcy, maybe a little bit of a routine, maybe something-or-other to focus on.  I’m also putting some thought into changes I might want to make around MuseCraft™.  I’m looking at the things I really love and playing with ways to bring my coaching and creative life and deepest interests together.  We’ll see how that goes!  I’ll definitely keep you posted.  Hopefully this will bring a return to blogging weekly–right now I’m going with what feels comfortable as I figure out what’s next.

Meanwhile, to help me find my next steps I’m taking Whitney Freya’s 21 Day Painting Meditation Challenge. It’s a low time commitment, no pressure, doesn’t require me to pull out all of my supplies.  It seemed like a good way to get back to some art journaling and creative play.

I also signed up for an October writing class at StoryWonk. Sufficiently Advanced Magic: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy.  I’ve been feeling a pull to get back to story writing, and I love using classes to get into (or back into) a creative project.  Plus, I just love Lani and Alastair at StoryWonk.  I’ve been listening to their podcasts for years and adore how much they love storytelling.

That’s everything I’m letting myself get involved in right now.  I think when you’re returning from a big, life-changing something-or-other it’s important to remember to go slowly, take the smallest steps you can, take lots of breaks.  I remind myself of this.  I’m reminding you of this.  Slow is fine.  Slow is perfect!

So, until next time–go slow, go easy, enjoy the journey!

Sep 10, 2014 - Thoughts and Ramblings    10 Comments

Re-entry

Turtle

I am finally back from my long trip, trying to find my way back into everyday life like a turtle returning to the sea.  Or maybe like a small child dipping her toes into the cold water, not really sure she wants to jump in.  But unlike the child, or even the turtle, there’s not much choice when the ocean you are dipping into is life itself.  Picking up and carrying on is the only way to go.

When I left on August 17, I mentioned here that I was called away on a family emergency.  My mother, who has had cancer for the past three-and-a-half years, was in critical condition.  I flew home and spent the next 11 days with her at the hospital.  On August 28 she went on to whatever comes next for us all.  Then came a whirlwind of funeral plans and the funeral itself, packing her belongings and emptying her apartment (my poor family–aunt and uncle and cousins–got stuck with so much of it as I had to return home too soon!), and then a cross-country drive in her car.

Now I’m home, and trying to get an idea of what life is now.  I don’t have any creative plans or goals or challenges to share about right now.  I have only been back for a few days after three weeks and a major life change away, so I am still getting my bearings.  But blogging is a thing I do, and I want to get back to the things I do, to a life not centered around crisis and sorrow.

For now I’m going to continue reading a lot.  I’m going to snuggle my kitties at home and the dogs here at work.  I’m starting a new knitting project, a knit-along that started September 1 (SweaterBabe’s Mystery Scarf Knit-Along).  Knitting is calm and soothing, and also perfect as we move into the cooler Autumn weather.

I’m not sure exactly when I’ll be getting back to anything like normal.  Maybe never–maybe I will find myself making lots of changes and stirring things up now.  Life will definitely be very different.  I used to talk to my mother at least twice a day and often more, small and frequently silly conversations sometimes only two or three minutes long.  Now I will be looking at what will fill those spaces.  For now I’m just being, but I did want to let everyone know what’s going on with me.

Enjoy the slow ride into Autumn!  Take care of yourselves!  And thanks for your patience as I slowly get back to the world.

Aug 17, 2014 - Thoughts and Ramblings    Comments Off

Journeying

I’m going to be away for a while–I have to travel for a family emergency. I’ll be dropping my August challenges, although I might pick the Life in Black and White challenge up again for the last few days if I get back home in time.  In any case, I’ll be back with things on my table and projects moving along as soon as I can.  Until then, keep exploring and finding what’s just around that bend.

North Head Lighthouse Path

On My Table–Challenge Progress

I’ve been keeping up with my August challenges but not doing a whole lot else.  Lots of stuff going on, keeping me a little bit overly busy.  But here are a few recent shots from the Life in Black and White challenge just so you know I haven’t been hiding out in the closet.  Two of the pics are even of the beginnings of a new art journal spread, so I’m moving right along.  I’ll get back to  that taking pics and writing about it thing again very soon!

Life in BW Collage 1

The Eve of August

August Challenges

I love August!  I have loved August since the first year I went to school (in the Chicago suburbs where I grew up, school starts in August rather than September).  There’s always been so much promise in the start of a new year for me, kind of like in January, but for me I feel that new year vibe even stronger in the Fall.  I love new classes and subjects and schedules, all bursting with good new things to learn and try and practice.

I think my love of that back-to-school wave must have been seeping in even though I didn’t realize it, because this week I signed up for three creative challenges for August–one for writing, one for journaling, one for photography.  I should find plenty of new things to try with these!

Writing: I’m signed up for DIY MFA’s Conquer the Craft challenge, which is actually a 29-day challenge.  I’m going to use it in conjunction with a group I signed up for called My 500 Words that focuses on–I bet you know this one–writing 500 words a day.  After August I plan to do it only one weekdays/work days, but for August I’ll use if for the 29 days of Conquer the Craft.  This might even fit in with my #Just10Minutes practice, at least on some days.  If I’m on a roll, I can write 500 words in 10 minutes, so I might try to push for it a few times just as an extra challenge.

Journaling: I’m also jumping back in on Lisa Sonora Beam’s ROOT 30 Day Journal Project.  I sort of participated in January, but I was still heavily in a Lull phase and didn’t get all the way through.

Photography: And finally I’m doing the Life in Black and White challenge. Thirty-one days of black-and-white photography.  Since getting a digital camera, and then an iPod Touch, I never shoot b & w anymore, and I used to love doing that with a film camera.  I’m looking forward to focusing on some photography plus getting back to black-and-white.  I even got two new apps for my Pod (Noir Pro and Hueless) to try out for the challenge.

So what about you?   Do you get the same kind of vibe I do when it’s back-to-school time?  Any plans to start something new this August? Tell me all about your plans–I’d love to hear them!

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