4

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!

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5

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

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10

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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I didn't have anything to take a picture of last week--lots of writing and class planning going on.  This week, though, I do have a little glimpse to share from my upcoming, self-paced Flash Journaling class:

Ready Cropped
It's cropped and arted up with special effects, but this is a little glimpse of the kinds of things we'll work on in Flash Journaling (coming out in September)

Right now I'm wrapping up the July newsletter (sign up over there to the right in the sidebar if you haven't already) and working on a few more things, so I'm a little short on words.  I'm sure I'll have more to say later in the week.   Meanwhile, join me on Twitter and Facebook and practice doing things in #Just10Minutes with me.  Let's see what we can do!

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6

Just 10 Minutes

What can you do in just ten minutes? What if I told you that you could write a book, paint a painting, clean your house, get in shape?  It's true.  Ten minutes at a time, repeated over and over again, can get just about anything done.  And doing things in tiny increments takes off the pressure--it becomes stress free and even fun to see what you can do in ten minutes at a time.

I first started using a timer and ten minutes when I read Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones.  She recommends doing timed writings and trying out different time increments to see what works best for you.  (I found 10 - 20 minutes to be my zone.)  Then I started participating in NaNoWriMo where, to my delight, I found word sprints to join in on.  My favorites, the ones that got me to 50,000 words in 30 days six times, were the 10 and 15 minute sprints.

And then I found Kaizen-Muse™ and discovered that you can use these little pieces of time to do all sorts of things! During my trainings, Small Steps became my favorite Kaizen-Muse™ tool, and it's still my favorite.  I am consistently amazed at how much can be accomplished in tiny chunks of time.  Give me a timer and turn me loose, and I feel like I can do anything!   I really do love my timer and my Small Steps!

And that's what brought about this post and this new idea.  What if we all take those big, important, maybe feels too heavy tasks and ideas and break them down into ten minute chunks? What if we encourage each other to try doing just ten minutes of something we've been wanting to do?

Let's take this to Twitter and Facebook.  Use the hashtag #Just10Minutes.  State your goal.  Share what you've done.  Get a boost.  Give someone else a boost.  Let's take those dreams and get them started, together, in Just 10 Minutes.

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10

I didn't get to an On My Table post last week because the July 4 weekend was so full of fun GEAR Con hijinks I didn't squeeze in any time for painting or arting at all.  To be honest, I didn't do much of anything over the last week either because soaring temps left me flopped in front of the fan.

I did run across a need for a long range planner, and I couldn't find anything to fit the bill, so I made this:

Planner 1

I really wanted a place to show the next several months at one time so I can see what I have planned (I have a few cool, self-paced classes planned and other fun stuff, too).  I want to be able to keep track of what kind of schedule I need to have going on, and I need to know further out than a month at a time.  Apparently I'm the only one who needs this?  Or I'm looking for the wrong thing, because I couldn't find anything to download or buy a paper copy of.  So I grabbed some scrapbook paper and markers and made a thing!

The paper is pretty pink-flowered glittery stuff (the little ATCs are made from the leftovers after I trimmed the paper to size).  I used my favorite PITT pens and made some rectangles, and now it's ready for me to start filling in the blanks and getting things ready to plan and schedule so I can send all sorts of fabulous stuff out into the world!  Stay tuned...this planner is the start of something wonderful!

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10

This is a reprint, with slight alterations, of a newsletter article I did a few years ago.  I'm reposting it after several recent conversations with people telling me that they don't like to-do lists and schedules and things because they feel restricted, boxed in, constrained.  But there's also a lot of talk about not getting much of anything done, and I really think the two things--resistance to structure and lack of progress--are connected.

I've noticed something about we creative types. We like to feel free and wild, flying around the
aether with our creativity spreading behind us like wings. Structure? Bah! We don't want structure!
We're free. You can't put us in a box!Jellyfish

The thing is, without structure we often lack focus and direction. We float along, shapeless, like
jellyfish pushed and pulled by the tides. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be a jellyfish.

Here's an important secret—structure is not our enemy. It's more like the skeleton we hang our
creativity on, the underlying form that helps us determine what direction our work will go in. At an
immediate, project by project level, structure is deciding that you'll work on a painting today instead of
a novel or work on photo editing instead of an art quilt. It helps us get things done by keeping us from
trying to do everything all at once.

There are also greater structures in our lives that help us feed and nurture our creativity, things that
make it easier to create when we want to. Some of these are the same things that help us get to work on
time, get ready for bed, buy groceries for the week. Our daily, weekly, monthly routines can become a
structure to help us shape our creative time and space.

Structure adds form and substance and beauty to our creativity.
Structure adds form and substance and beauty to our creativity.

I know the word “routine” sometimes has a bad reputation. We frequently use it as a synonym for
“dull” or “boring.” But having routines keeps us from having to reinvent the wheel over and over to do
the things we need to do. If you create and choose your routines with intention and thoughtfulness,
with an eye to making time and space for your creativity, your routines can become the structure that
lets your creativity thrive.

So how do you build a structure for your creativity? The same way construction workers build a house
—one beam at a time. This is especially important if you are a multi-creative. Don't try to force long
stretches of time to work on all of your creative pursuits every week. Start out either by choosing a
favorite creative pastime and working that into your life regularly or by finding a particular time each
week (for me, it's Thursday evenings) and dedicate that time to doing whatever creative thing pulls you
when the time comes.

Work this new piece into your existing structure—you're building an addition, not creating an entirely
new dwelling. Look at your routines and your schedule, decide what is and isn't working and tweak
things to make them work better, then find the places where adding in creative time will work best. I'll
go back to the Thursday evenings I mentioned as an example. For me, my regular schedule leaves me
with the whole house to myself on Thursdays after work, so this is a natural time to work on creative
projects.

Once your new addition has become a comfortable, regular part of your life, look around for the next
place you can add on to your routine. Eventually, as with building anything, if you work steadily and
thoughtfully, you will have a life structure that will leave you the time and space you need for your
creativity. You'll be able to do the things you want, and your Muse will thank you for it every day.


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There's still time to join in on the adventure in the
MuseCraft™ Explorers' Club!  Sign up today
and start down the path to your creative dreams.

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12

Things have been really exciting around here!  It's been a real potpourri of a week with a little of this and a little of that happening all over the place.

So what have I been doing?  I've been working on backgrounds for some ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) and for my new coaching circle coming up in July (more about that below).

Background Collage

Last week I participated in a blog tour, and this week I have links to some of my invited bloggers who are keeping the tour going:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd last but not least, I am launching the MuseCraft™ Explorers' Club!

I am really excited about this one.  I've been dreaming of this for a long time now, and it's finally time.  The club is a place for creative dreamers, explorers, adventurers to gather together to discover our creative pathways with companionship and fun and plenty of helping hands.  This is going to be six weeks of really getting our creative dreams revved up, energized, and moving forward, and I can't wait!

The club will be happening July 9, 2014 – August 13, 2014.  This first one will be a beta group where I'll be asking for lots of feedback and making tweaks in the program, so it's a slightly smaller group, and there's a huge discount on the price.  So what do you say?  Do you want to come on a creative adventure?  Come on, let's go!

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8

This week has been about painting.  First I did a lesson for Effy Wild's Book of Days that I fell in love with:

Fairy Tale Princess

I loved this so much that I did a small version for Painting 1 (which probably needs a better name) of my 100 Paintings project:

Fairy Girl 1

I expect that some version of this will show up in my painting a few more times.  There's just something about her and about painting her that makes me very happy!

I also updated my About page a bit if you'd like to take a look at that. It's not complete, but it's more current.  And updating that page is step one in getting more good stuff onto the site.  I have a coaching circle in the works (I was hoping to have it ready to share last week, but I think I will have it ready for you this week).  I have a couple of workshops and some tutorials that I'm working on that will start showing up over the summer.  All kinds of good stuff going on over here.  Do you think it's the fairy princess and her magic?  I like to think so.

What about you?  What's magic in your world this week?  What's in the works, in the planning, in your dreams?  Put it out here and let's give it some energy!

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20

Last week got away from me a bit, so I'm combining my announcement about my Big Project with this week's On My Table.

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The beginnings of 100 Paintings

The project: Complete 100 paintings
The deadline: December 31, 2015
The media: Mixed media on various backgrounds (because I just love paper so much that I want to paint on all of it!)

I've had this project on my mind for a long time.   A little inkling of the idea sprouted a couple of years ago when Lisa Sonora Beam started her 1008 Paintings project, but I brushed the idea of doing anything like that aside.  I was a writer and a coach.  Painting was incidental, something I did now and then, nothing I was good at.  Never mind those longings, ignore those, move along.  (A side note: DO NOT ignore those longings!  They are important!  They are trying to tell you something.  I would never advise anyone to ignore them, but sometimes it's hard to remember what to do when it's for yourself.)

I ignored my desire to paint for the most part, focusing on writing while getting in some occasional painting in my art journal.  Then last year I read an article by Joe Bunting on Quantity Versus Quality, and my interest in doing a lot of paintings surfaced again.  I didn't have time for that kind of thing!  What was I thinking?

I brushed the idea aside again and focused on wrapping up a bunch of projects I had going.  Then I took a nice, long hiatus after a couple of years of doing too much stuff.  I really needed a break.  I gave myself permission for a few months (Late-December to April-ish) to not start anything new, to do what I felt like, to read a lot and daydream a lot and play a lot.  And you know what I felt like doing?  (After three weeks of watching a lot of TV and napping, I mean.)  Painting.  And writing.  And talking to people about all things creative.  Letting myself dream and listen to those dreams brought me back to the things I really love.  And then this project idea came back to me, and I decided to give it a go.

I spent some time toying with different deadlines and rules and things for the project, talked about it with some friends, tweaked the idea until it started feeling just about ready.  The final bit fell into place when I gave myself permission to paint on all sorts of surfaces, mostly paper, instead of trying to make myself pick one.  Finally, I felt like I was ready to do this.  And I am!

Why such a long time frame?  I want this to be a fun immersion and deepening relationship to something I've always loved--paint and color and playing with paper.  I don't want this to be a chore.  I want this to be a joy.

As the project starts up, I'll create a page for it and write more about why I think taking on a huge project is a good idea.  I'll write about how painting feels, and I'll write about the details of it.  I'll share the process and my thoughts about all of it.  But for now, here is the beginning.  Supplies gathered, a date set, an intention put out into the world.

What about you?  Is there a big, impossible seeming project calling to you?  Tell me all about it--we can share stories and cheer each other on while we do our great big scary fun things!

 

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