Pondering Woman

I am contemplating some changes to the blog and my newsletter and would love to know what you would like to see.  So whadya think?

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 30-11-2013 13:44:21
end_date 15-12-2013 23:59:59
Poll Results:
What changes would you most like to see in how I get my thoughts out to you?

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!




Note:  This post appeared previously on Where the Spirited Women Gather which is sadly now defunct.


Halloween, also known as Samhain, is a time when the veil between our world and the spirit world thins. It is a time when the spirits can visit us or we can speak to them more easily than at any other time during the year. In modern times we associate the holiday with all things creepy and spooky, but in the past it was more about the spirit world, remembering our ancestors, and the quieting of the seasons as winter approached.

This Halloween, why not hearken back to the olden days and use the energy of the season to get in touch with your inner, creative spirit? Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

  • Tarot meditation: Tarot cards have long been considered a way to contact the other side, getting messages about your life and maybe even your future. For this exercise, pull out a deck of tarot cards or another oracle deck and pick a card. Spend some time gazing at the image . Note any people or creatures, any items that stand out for you, the colors and tones used in the image. Let yourself imagine sinking or stepping into the card, noting any feelings and sensations you may have. You can also look up card meanings—there are several online places you can find to get meanings for tarot cards. Use what you gather from your gazing and any research to inspire a piece of creative work. (An alternate version of this would be to pull out one of the cards associated with Halloween—the Death card, King of Cups, or 5 of Cups, and follow the same guidelines.)

  • Pumpkin gazing: Carving pumpkins into Jack-o-lanterns goes back hundreds of years to the ancient Celts. They believed that the spirits wandered the earth on Halloween night because the veil was so thin. They carved pumpkins and placed them outside with candles lit inside them toe help guide lost spirits home, making the carved faces scary in the belief that the frightening faces would help scare away any evil spirits. Carve a pumpkin and place a lighted candle inside. Put the pumpkin on a table, turn off the lights, and sit down in front of the jack-o-lantern. Breathe deeply a few times, letting yourself relax. Spend as long as you like gazing at the flames, letting your mind find images in the dancing fire and shadows. When you are finished, write down your impressions, any thoughts and images and ideas that came to you. Use these ideas to create something. (An alternate to this would be to gaze into a candle—pumpkin or jack-o-lantern shaped adds to the holiday spirit but isn't strictly necessary.)

  • Celebrate Dia de los Muertos: The Day of the Dead (typically celebrated on November 1-2) is a Mexican holiday remembering and celebrating our loved ones who have gone before us during this time of the thinning veil. Sit quietly and remember those important to you, people and pets, who have left us now. Make a list of names, and next to each one write a few words or phrases about that person. Use that list to make a piece of art—a painting, collage, art journal page, poem, song, whatever comes to you—celebrating your loved ones.

  • Leaf printing: One of the strongest symbols of Autumn is vibrant, colorful foliage changing from green to a parti-colored display of pre-winter glory. Take advantage of the crisp Autumn days and bright leaves and go outside to gather the most beautiful leaves you can find. Take them home and use them in place of rubber stamps—dip them in ink or paint and print onto paper or fabric with them. You could also include the leaves themselves in collages or art journal pages or make an Autumn leaf bouquet to put in a little bud vase.

  • Connect with the classics: Autumn and Halloween are associated with ghost stories and other scary tales, too, and it's a perfect time to get cozy and read yourself to sleep. Pull out a classic Halloween story (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and “The Raven” are my two favorites) and re-read it—maybe in a mostly darkened room with a few candles lit and a cup of hot cider at your side. Let yourself absorb the imagery and feelings of the piece. When you reach the end, make some notes on the images and emotions that stood out for you and use those to create something.

Samhain also marks the ending of the year in the Celtic calendar, so after your Halloween celebrations, take a few more minutes to ring in the new year. Light a candle and make a new year wish before you head to bed. Happy Halloween!

About me:

I'm a writer, professional muse, certified Kaizen-Muse ™ Creativity Coach, and all-around practitioner and lover of whimsy. I dabble in every sort of creative pursuit that looks interesting, spend too many nights staying up too late reading, and have dreams of building up an incredible stash of yarn for all the knitting patterns I keep saving.  In November, almost all of these things go on the back burner while I participate in the particular madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

You can find me on my website, MuseCraft ™, on Facebook, and on Twitter.



I'm in the last throes of preparing for a trip to Santa Monica. I'm very excited--I haven't been on an actual vacation since 1998!  I've been on short, weekend trips, but most of my traveling since I moved to Portland in 1999 has been back home to the Chicago suburbs to visit my family.

To me, part of the enjoyment of a trip is figuring out just the right things to take with me.  I've been gathering my clothes, buying a few new things, making lists (oh, I love lists!).  But the most fun for this trip has been making an art journal for it.

I decided to use a map to create my journal pages.  I got a very large Rand McNally map of California--so large that it wouldn't fit on my work board when I laid it out to gesso it.  So, I cut it into pages first then gessoed it.  If you decide to make a map journal and need to cut before gessoing, I recommend cutting it into a few larger sheets.  It took forever to get all the pages gessoed the way I did it!  Still, I love the way it came out.  I love the raggedy edges, the way the pages are slightly different sizes (which happened because when I took them apart to gesso them, I didn't get them back in the original order I had them in when I first stacked and folded them).  And I really love how the maps show through the thin coat of gesso I used.

I was going to make a cover out of painted watercolor paper or a paper bag.  But I kept seeing this shopping bag I brought home from a trip to get some summer clothes for the trip.  It's one of those bags made from that weird paper-cloth hybrid, the kind you can buy at the grocery store to carry your food home in.  But this one had a vinyl coating on the outside in bright, summery colors and a leafy, flowery pattern.  It seemed perfect for a beach vacation journal, so I cut it up and used part of it for my cover.  I'm planning to put a post card on the front so it won't be quite so garish, but I'm loving how it looks as is.

Finally, with the book all sewn together, it was time to prep the pages.  The plain white was a bit dull, even with the maps showing through, so I decided to add some color.  But I wanted the pages to be easy to write on, and paint is not always easy to write over.  So, instead of using acrylics, I used a variety of inks and some watercolor crayons to color my pages.

You can see bits of the decorated pages along with the awesome, raggedy edges

I went through and added some decorative details, including a couple of folded in sheets of decorative paper and one really cool advertisement that just screams to me of beaches and vacations.  I have a list of things I want to write about and a whole pouch full of pens.  I think I'm ready!  Bon voyage!




I'm off to a slow start with my ROW80 goals.  I've started, though, so that's good.  Since Monday, I've worked on coaching stuff twice.  I've been writing today and will have a short story posted tomorrow.  I checked in on five ROW80-ers blogs.  I'm going to do a little yoga before dinner.  That regularity thing is a little hard for me to figure out.  I think I need something visual to hang up or put somewhere that I'll see it multiple times throughout the day to remind me what I want to be working on.  I think I'll make that a one-time goal for between now and Sunday's check-in.  I might make two--one for home and one for work.

Now I'm going to cut this short so I can work on my story more and get to that yoga before dinner.



So many things going on in my life these days. I'm working on the final pieces for my Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching certification.  I'm creating some coaching packages, working on a workshop, doing a lot of writing.

All of this made me realize that trying to keep a personal creativity blog (my old WordColors blog) and a blog for my coaching and professional creativity isn't the way to go any more.  It's time to bring everything together.  So I'll be using this blog not just for experiments and MuseCraft™ announcements and happenings but also for my own creative endeavors--writing mostly, some art journaling and projects, some health and body topics because I feel they relate directly to my creativity.  I'll be leaving my old blog up, because it was my first blog and I still love it.  But it's time to bring everything to this space.

Today is the first day of Round 3 of A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80).  This post is mostly about that, but I wanted to state my intention of moving everything here first.  But now that I've done that, it's time to get down to the business of setting some goals!

Last round, my writing really took off although I'm a week behind just now on my 52 Stories pieces.  But I was lacking in a lot of other areas.  I'm still seeking some way to have that focus and enthusiasm for my writing while also getting other things done regularly, not just in fits and starts and in the spaces between other things.  Even my writing last round was in fits and starts.  Regularity is the word for this round.


  • Continue writing and posting one short story (rough draft) weekly
  • Write at least 15 minutes at least 4 days a week in my journal or at 750words.com
  • Check in with at least 4 fellow ROW80-ers each check-in period
  • At least once a week, spend 30 minutes or more on household organizing and cleaning
  • Exercise for 10 minutes at least 4 days a week
  • Spend at least 10 minutes a day at least 5 days a week on coaching business activities

I think that's a good set of goals for this round.  It feels well rounded, and I think my time specifications will help me build that regularity, those habits I'm after.

Good luck, everyone!  See you at Wednesday's check-in.






I'm already in the last few weeks of my The Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching™ training.  It's hard to believe it's almost done.  In some ways, I feel like we just started.  But at the same time, I can look back and see how much I've already learned.  It has been an incredible, mind-filling experience, and I've loved every bit of this work!  I'm feeling a little melancholy that the course is ending, but I'm getting really excited about all the things that will be springing up from this.

This brings me to the reason for this post.

Is something holding you back from your creative dream? Would you like some help making your dream happen?

I am offering four free coaching sessions starting in June.  These sessions are part of my certification work, so the calls will be recorded.  If you are interested in trying this out, leave a note in the comments or over on the Facebook page (I'll be linking to this post there).  You can also send me an e-mail at info@musecraftonline.com

In your note, please let me know what creative dream you'd like to work on during our sessions.  Since we will have a limited number of sessions together, I want to offer these calls to someone I feel can best benefit from them.

Thanks, everyone!



Last week, I committed myself to something crazy and hard and scary and wonderful.  I signed on to a writing challenge called 52 Stories.  I'm going to be writing a story a week for an entire year!

Right now, I'm posting first draft work.  I'm putting them up over on my creativity and writing blog.  I'm taking a deep breath and just doing it.  And it is terrifying!  And it feels amazing!  And as soon as I wrap this up, I'm going to give myself some time to work on this week's story before I go to sleep, and I can hardly wait to get to it.

My friend Anna Alexander wrote today about creating your own content (and she even mentions me in there!), and I realized that's exactly what I'm doing.  I'm stepping out and doing things that add what I want into my life.  I think that's why it feels so great.

Go check out Anna's article and ask yourself, "What can I do to add content to my life?"  Let your subconscious play with that for a while.  I think you might be pleasantly surprised by what your brain tells you.



Spring.  Possibly the most creative time of year--animal babies are being made, young plants are shooting up from the earth, the sun is growing stronger and sending energy coursing through us.

Is all this springtime energy making you want to pick up a creative project and get back to work on it or maybe start something new but you feel like you need a little spring cleaning to get your creative spark shining again?  Me, too!  I made up a little exercise to help me grab the season's creative energy and get back in the flow.  You can do it, too:

Grab some paper and pens or markers or whatever writing/coloring device you like.  Take five minutes--even one minute will do--and make a quick list of things you loved as a child.  Books, movies, toys, games, imaginary friends, places, people, anything you want (my list includes Alice in Wonderland, werewolves, ghosts, birds, crows, miniature things, and butterflies just as a quick start).  Look around.  Are any of these things represented in your everyday surroundings?  This weekend, find something that reminds you of one of your childhood loves and makes you smile, and find a place for it in your world so you will see it every day and get a smile and a little boost.

Happy spring!



My time away has been good--I've rested, regrouped, did a lot a writing, even more thinking, and now here I am, back to share with you some of the things I've thought up.

One of the things I hear from almost every creative person I know is that they have a hard time finishing their own projects.  I have this problem, too.  Projects with outside deadlines, day to day living, and nearly everything else gets in the way of finishing our own work.  And this not finishing can get really depressing, and then we think we'll never finish, and then we give up, at least for a while. Does this sound familiar?  Want to do something about it?  Me, too!

This time of year always makes me get excited for doing things.  Getting things started, getting creative, moving forward with my dreams and goals and plans.  Maybe it's a holdover back-to-school vibe.  Maybe it's the sudden cool crispness of the air after the summer's heat.  Whatever it is, this year I plan to take advantage of this autumn energy to finish a few things before the year wraps up.

CC image courtesy of kaichanvong on Flickr, some rights reserved

Now here's my invitation to you.  Let's all get together on our blogs, or here in the comments, and decide what we want to finish, or at least work on, by the end of the year.  Then on Mondays for the rest of the year, I'll create a check-in post for all of us to revel in what we've done so far and make a plan for the coming week.

You can work on anything during this challenge, but I have a few suggestions.  First, make it something that's special to you, not something you think you have to work on or that someone else said you should work on.  Make this about following your dreams.  Second, you can work on more than one thing here, but I suggest keeping your list to no more than two or three projects.  Each of our dreams deserves time and attention, and if we try to do too many of them all at once, none of them get the focus they need.

So decide what you want to finish by year's end.  Write a blog post and leave us a link below, or just list your goals in the comments here.  Then on Monday we'll get this party started and start making some dreams come true!