On Friday I had the good luck to discover Julie Gibbons and her Found Inspirations journaling technique.  (You can get a free download of the PDF at her site.)

New Food Resolution
A quick collage I made for my one New Year's resolution--to try a new restaurant every month. I'm using the back to keep a list of the places we try.

It all started with a tweet: "Practice collage magic for emotional healing."  With a link to this post:  A creative practice for everyone, including ‘non-artists’.  I have been craving a regular practice in my life and have not found an easy way to make it happen.  This sang to me as soon as I read it.  I knew it was something I could fit in.

I've spent the weekend cutting out words and images from magazines I had stashed away--this all by itself was soothing and meditative.  Then I sifted through my clippings, picked out a pre-printed journaling card, and created the collage above.  So much pleasure and mind clearing from something so simple!

I can see a lot of directions to go in with this practice.  I think most often I will just pick the words and images that call to me and make my collage that way.  But sometimes I will go into it with a focus like I did today when I wanted to have a food theme.  And sometimes I might try something like picking a quote and building a collage around that.  Lots of ways to do this, and none of them need to take hours.  I can't wait to do more!

Let me know if any of you are doing this, too.  I'd love to share images and insights.  See you next time with more collages!

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2

This is the last check-in of Round 1 of ROW80.  I'm not sure I ever hit my stride for this round.  And I'm not sure I know what I want to do for the next round.  But time marches on, and whether I'm ready or not, we're wrapping up this round.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA How did the time fly by so quickly?  I feel like most of it was taken up by being sick.  And a bunch of personal difficulties that have kept me anxious and distracted this round.  I didn't get much writing done at all.

But that's not really a good way to wrap things up.  So, what did I do this round?  I revamped my website, have started revising my blog posts, planned a new structure for my newsletters, launched an e-course, launched an in-person course, got a real start finally on the house organizing project, realized that I need to take my writing back to my roots of writing practice and journaling.

Okay, that's a better way to bring things to a close.  I did actually get a lot done this round even if it wasn't what I'd originally planned.  Now, time to get ready for Round 2.

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16

Last week I ran across a fun new project (really, it started last Tuesday, so it's very new) called Glue It Tuesday from Artsyville.  I've been wanting to bring back creativity for its own sake in my life.  I love cutting out pictures and words and gluing them down.  And Lisa Sonora Beam just recently wrote about how gluing things down can help beat creative block: "Feeling unproductive? Try fortune cookie oracles and gluing shit down."

Then today my Kaizen-Muse™ mentor and creative friend Lisa Dieken of Wild Creative Heart wrote this: "Being productive" needs to be redefined as "waht gets accomplished when you follow your inspiration." I knew I wanted to put this on a card for the inspiration section of my Right-Brain Business Plan.

All of that lead to this:

Be Yourself

What about you?  Been gluing anything down lately?

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3

On Friday, I wrote a blog post about the small changes I've started making in my environment, working to make welcoming, creative spaces for myself.  Over the weekend, I actually completed one of those spaces!

I took my very cluttered, dirty, disorganized bedside cubes and turned them into a space for my books on creativity, other inspirational books, my journal, and a pretty vase full of flowers.  I also completey forgot to take a before picture, and the difference is incredible so I actually regret not having one.  But this is my new, bedside creative space:

Bedside

I'll probably swap out the print above it at some point, but I'm always inspired by Amy Brown's art so this seemed like a good piece to have there for the moment.  I'm going to be adding in some art journaling materials, at least my cute container full of colorful markers and a glue stick.  I've left myself some space to add things I find that I want nearby.

I tried having all of my creative supplies upstairs in my actual studio, but I can't resist the pull of working in my bed (much to my boyfriend's dismay, especially if he's away for a weekend, because I tend to pile things up on his side!).  I have done most of my reading, writing, homework, everything while sitting on my bed since I was a little girl.  I finally realized that this is how I do things.  Putting everything up in my studio with no place for it to live next to my bed just means that I'll bring down what I want to work on and then pile it up around the bed because I don't have a good spot for it.  It makes more sense to make space for the things I want to have near me.

A view of some of the books and things in the cubbies.
A view of some of the books and things in the cubbies.

I'm feeling very accomplished and satisfied by the weekend's work.  And it was a lot more work than I imagined clearing out a relatively small space would be.  There are books, papers, and journals stacked along the wall halfway up the staircase.  I have no idea how all of that stuff fit in those cubbies!

And, as you can see, I celebrated my accomplishment with some fresh flowers.

Spring Celebration FlowersMy next move is some journaling and contemplation to see what part of this ongoing project calls to me next.  I'll keep you posted.  And I'll try to remember those before pictures next time.

Is anyone else working on their creative spaces and clearing the clutter?  I'd love to hear your stories!

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Over the past couple of years, both here and in the newsletter, I've touched on the idea that your physical space and your mental space reflect one another.  And about how you need proper space that feels good to you to do your creative work.  I've briefly brushed up against ideas about clearing clutter, organizing, creating welcoming creative space.  But I've approached this at a distance.  I haven't really been living it at all.  I know it's important, but I haven't been able to really devote myself to it before now.

This week, though, I knew it was time to step into this and make it real.  I've been thinking about it, planning about it, even doing a little work, but for the most part it was all abstract.  This week, I have been bombarded with mentions of decluttering, organizing, etc.  And several of them were in relation to creativity.  If that's not a message from the universe, I don't know what is!  And I know that my emotions and creativity and thought processes all work better when I have even a slightly cleaner, clearer, nicer space to be in.  Imagine what my brain could do if I gave myself a really great space to be in!

I want clean and orderly things around me to open the way to the bright, shiny freedom I see here.
I want clean and orderly things around me to open the way to the bright, shiny freedom I see here.

I declare that I am reclaiming my spaces and making welcoming creative places for myself and my work to flourish!

There.  That's what this is all about.  I'm not going to promise a particular schedule for these blog posts (check under the category "creative space" or the tag "reclaiming" if you want to see more of them when they're done).  But I am going to actually do the work and write about it here.

I'm a little (a lot) nervous about this.  I don't know for sure that this is something I can do, this cleaning and organizing and creating a beautiful space for myself.  There are two of us in our house, and we both make incredible messes.  We are creatives, we are makers, we are busy, and we are naturally slobbish.  You don't want to know what this does to the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of our house.  Or even the not-really-hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. So I don't know exactly how to do all of this.

I do know this: I am not following any particular plan or organizational/cleaning system or anything like that.  For the longest time (years I'm embarrassed to admit) I would make plans about where to start and what order to clean things in, etc.  And it never happened.  A little cleaning would happen, but it's barely been enough to make a dent.  Now I am following my gut.  And that seems like it might work out, actually.

Last week I felt a pull to clear out the bottom of the linen cabinet, so I did that.  The week before that I cleaned out a massive pile of clothes and magazines and papers that was piled behind the bedroom door making it impossible to completely open it.  Yesterday, after a week or so of having an idea of how I wanted my bedside table to function, I started clearing it out (it's actually two of those stackable cube thingies, so it's four cubes with space under each unit for more storage of stuff that sits on the floor).  In the space of two weeks now, I have made visible changes in my environment.  This is better than I've done in a long time, so I think this "follow my intuition" plan might be the thing.

Anyone else looking to clean and organize and create the space they want to live in?  I'd love company and conversation about it!

Photos:  I know everyone loves before and after pics.  I will post pictures of areas when they are done.  I can't bring myself to post the before pictures.  I promise I will take some so that someday, if I'm feeling feisty and braver, maybe you'll get to see them.  But not right away.

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8

Today I had an epiphany.  I think I've had this one before.  I think I will probably have it again.  But today I thought, "Right where you are is where to start. No need to catch up or do anything else but take one step on the path."   And I knew it was true.  There are things I've been feeling so behind on (for example, the Life Book 2013 class I'm taking that fell by the wayside when I got the flu/pneumonia/Plague of 2013 and that I am just this week getting back to).  But today I realized that none of them are things that I have to do anything with except just start again, take the next step, just pick them back up and bring them back into my life.

Spring
I wrote my spring wish for Wishcasting on the back!

Some things I want to start/restart from right here:

  • Art journaling
  • Journal writing/writing practice
  • Drawing (taking Draw Happy with Jane Davenport and it's great!)
  • House cleaning/organizing
  • Creative practice

I have some other things I want to do, but I haven't worked out a nice, concise catch phrase for them to put into my bulleted list (such a shame--I love lists!).  Maybe another list another time when I have a clearer picture.

I am planning some changes to this blog and my newsletter, and one of the changes involves me getting back into a regular creative practice which is why that phrase shows up there on my list.  I'm not sure what that creative practice will look like just now.  It will probably have something to do with art journaling, I think. It would have been easier if I had started this in January because then I could have done a "one year of such-and-such" sort of thing, but it's not January so I don't think that will be the thing.  "Nine months of such-and-such" maybe?  That could work out.

Meanwhile, I'm doing a little bit of Wishcasting Wednesday and a ROW80 check-in, and then I'm going back to organizing my blog reader to help me feed my soul and boost my inspiration and make connections to my creative peeps every day.

Wishcasting Wednesday:

Jamie asks, "What is your spring wish?"  I wish to have more faith in myself and confidence in my abilities.  I wish to believe in myself at least strongly enough to let me keep moving forward and not get mired in self-doubt and worry.

ROW80:

Mostly this week is still about figuring out where I am going with my writing and how all of the different sorts of writing I do can fit together comfortably.  I had a huge breakthrough on the changes I want to make for my blog and newsletter, so this contemplation and giving myself some space is paying off.  I've been writing in my journal and making lists and notes all over the place, and I feel things coming together and opening up for me.

One of the things I realized in the past few days is that I want to put a big focus on journaling and Natalie Goldberg style writing practice.  I'm not sure this is something for a ROW80 goal for next round--I feel like I should be making goals about stories and blog writing.  "Real" writing.  But writing practice is real writing, too, and I know that it helps me reconnect with my storyteller self, so I know it's important.  It just feels a little weird to be putting it out in public as my main goal right now.  But I know it's the right thing to be doing right now, so I'm standing my ground and sticking with it, and if it's weird, then I guess I'll just be a happy, writing weirdo!

 

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Today I did something that brightened my day left me feeling pretty cheerful and interested in life at the end of a rather strange Monday.  I made a new Twitter list.  It took around 15 minutes to go through my "following" list and add people to my new list (it's called Creative Dailies), but it has made a definite impact on my morale.  This was absolutely a delicious bite of soul food.

Image used under Creative Commons from zigazou76
Image used under Creative Commons from zigazou76

Here's the background on this:  I work in a two person office, and my coworker is really nice but we have no interests in common except for a love of animals.  I feel really isolated during my workdays, so I spend a lot of time roaming Facebook while I'm working (yes, the job is mindless enough that this works out just fine).  But over the past couple of months I noticed that I was in a lot better mood when I wasn't on Facebook very much.  I realized that too much time on Facebook leaves me feeling horrible--angry, frustrated, fed up with people, depressed.  I have a few too many friends who love to post snarky "us against them" political garbage and a lot of other stuff that I know doesn't make sense or is flat out wrong.  But I also know that trying to have a discussion about this sort of thing on Facebook is ridiculous.

Over the past weekend I did some journaling about ways I could connect with people online during my workday and come away from it feeling uplifted, happy, energized.  I knew I didn't want to just stay away from my online friends, but I knew I had to change how I was interacting with them.  I couldn't stand feeling so angry and upset almost every afternoon.

I made a list of places I could hang out--a few Ning sites I belong to and some blogs I really like seemed like good starting places, but often the conversations there happen very slowly, not all on the same day.  Then I remembered that I'm connected to all sorts of awesome creative people on Twitter.  So why not make a list of the coolest, most fun, inspirational, thoughtful people I follow?

Today is the first day of trying this list, and I have been on Facebook a little, but not nearly as much.  And I'm feeling pretty good today.  I've also gotten to see a whole bunch of cool photos people shared on Twitter, and I'm finding it a lot easier to keep track of specific individuals throughout the day.  It's too early to fully proclaim this a success, but I think it might just work out.

So how do you stay connected with people while staying away from all of the negative garbage that gets spewed around the internet so much?  I'd love to hear about other ways to connect with people without getting overwhelmed with the bad stuff.

 

 

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2

Ten days left of Round 1 of ROW80.  I don't have a lot to report except that I feel like I'm slowly getting a clearer image of the writing life I want.  I am starting to see more of the pieces but I don't yet have much of an idea of how they might fit together solidly.

Stone Wall
I imagine the pieces of my life fitting together beautifully like the stones in this old wall.

I've been making lists and writing down ideas for things I want to write about.  I know writing is my strongest gift, so I know that I want to do a lot more writing for my business and my blog.  I also know that I have stories playing through my head all the time, every day.  I can't and won't give up fiction writing to focus on MuseCraft writing.  But then there's the poet Kim, the one who used to fill notebooks with lines of poetry and snippets of poetic descriptions.  I miss those times with a pen and notebook just writing things that came into my head, so I want to add some of that back in.

There's a lot of writing that wants my attention, plus a lot of other regular life things that also want my time.  Step one, where I am now, is figuring out what all the pieces are.  Then I can start looking at how to put them together.

For this week, I want to try out some journaling at different times of day to see where it will fit in most comfortably.  I know that when I'm journaling regularly my thoughts are clearer and my ideas flow better so I am starting there and reminding myself that it's okay if I'm not doing any of the other kinds of writing right now.  One stone at a time, right?

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4

We're nearing the end of Round 1 of ROW80 already.  I've been absent from checking in for a few weeks because I've been reassessing my goals and plans.  And I've come to one conclusion about it all: I do not know.  I know there are things I want to do and want to write--essays and articles seem to be in the lead right now as I am giving MuseCraft lots of time and attention (check out what I've put in motion down below!).  But that's about all I know for sure.

Good Question

I do not know.

I do not know the things I want to write in my essays and articles, but I know I want to write them.

I do not know how my story might end or what might happen in the middle parts.

I do not know how my desire to write stories fits in  with my desire to write about creativity and MuseCraft topics.

I do not know.  And this is where I will start.  This is an experiment, a wandering, an exploration.  And I will start from I do not know.

I'm going to set a very small goal for the rest of this round.  It's a compound goal, I guess.  I am going to work on whatever writing calls to me as many days as I can, and I'm going to show up for each remaining check-in and report on whatever I have done.  And hopefully somewhere in there I will start moving from "I don't know" to "I'm getting a clue."

What I've been up to while I was quiet:

Miss Muse's Finishing School Art by Alex Bannykh
Miss Muse's Finishing School
Art by Alex Bannykh

 

I launched a dream project aimed at helping people get their work out into the world, to connect and reconnect with their creative passions and projects do the work to make the dreams real.  And it's going to be fun and lighthearted and done with a group of like-minded creatives so we'll make a community to help support our creative work.  I'm so excited about this project!

 

 

 

Swords for ScribesAnd we've scheduled the first session of A Writer's Introduction to Swords and Swordplay for next month!  This is another dream project that has been roaming around my head for years, and my SO, Matthew, and I started planning it well over a year ago but didn't have a good way to bring it into the world until now.  And now we will be putting swords in the hands of writers, teaching them how to use them, and guiding them in describing their experiences so their fighting scenes will be lively and realistic.

 

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Yes, school. But what a school! This isn't your ordinary, run-of-the-mill, fall asleep at your desk kind of school. This is my dream school, a place I've been building in my mind for quite a while now.  It's a place for all of us to come together and work on what is in our hearts and bring those creative dreams out into the world.  It's the school I've always wanted!

Miss Muse's Finishing School
Miss Muse's Finishing School
Art by Alex Bannykh

When I think about my personal creative work and what gets in my way, I have to admit that it's my lack of focus and finishing.  I have so many great new ideas all the time, there's no way I could do them all.  A few ideas are so exciting that I make plans and get started on them, and then life happens.  I get sidetracked, get pulled away for a few days or a few weeks, and then I can't seem to dive back in, and the project languishes by the wayside while I move on to something new.

I also get overwhelmed sometimes when I'm in the middle of a bigger project, and that makes it easy to let things go and move on to something new.  Starting is easy.  Continuing is hard.

The funny thing is, when I talk to other creatives I hear similar stories.  It's really easy to start new projects when they are bright and shiny and filled with promise and possibilities.  But it's a lot harder to keep going when you're in the middle, when the project is no longer new and maybe not so shiny and exciting, and you're trying to do it all on your own.  I also hear, "I wish I had a group of creative friends who would understand where I'm coming from and help me stay motivated and keep going."  I hear variations on that last one a lot.  I've said variations on that last one a lot.

Enter Miss Muse's Finishing School.  I've created this six week workshop to give a small group of creatives a place to meet each week via teleconference to set creative intentions, talk about their projects, report progress (ooh, accountability--that's another thing people say they want all the time!), brainstorm new ideas, and create a community of creatives to bolster each other and help each other bring those creative dreams alive.

This first session is going to be a pilot group.  I'll be asking for lots of feedback and maybe some testimonials if people like what we do together.  So this first group is going to be very small (only six people), and it's going to be at a discounted price ($40).  This is all good news, but it also means that if you want in you should probably sign up now because the spaces are very limited.

I hope to see you at Miss Muse's Finishing School so we can bring our dreams alive together!

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