Do It Scared

Boy jumping off boat into lake

I had a chat with my dentist today about creativity.

He was curious about my book, The Creative Heroine’s Path. Because his dental hygienist was unavailable, he cleaned my teeth, which gave us more time to talk. (Or, in my case, mumble.)

It turns out he is a talented musician, songwriter, and singer. Who knew? But then, so many creatives are hiding in plain sight. When I tell people that I mentor creatives, something comes alive in them, and they tell me their stories.

I mentioned that I’ll be giving an encore book talk at Barnes and Noble next weekend, and he asked how I went about getting scheduled there.

“Did you go in to the store and talk the manager?”

“I just called them up.”

He expressed amazement that I could call them like that, as though I have a huge amount of confidence.

I shook my head. “Do it scared,” I lisped.

“Oh, that’s right,” he said. “If you wait until you have perfect confidence, it will never happen.”

Bingo.

We tell ourselves stories about other people who are doing what scares us. That they are special or anointed or supremely confident and strong. Maybe some of them are, but I doubt it. Most of us are doing it scared, at least at first.

Think of something you do well now, that you have mastered. Was it easy from the start? Were you filled with confidence while you were learning how to do it? Were there times you felt quite vulnerable, even scared?

But despite all that—you did it.

What do you want to create next in your life? Will it stretch you beyond your current limits? How do you need to grow? Who do you need to become?

If it scares you a little, or a lot, do it anyway. To create the life you want, you must stand up to your fears. Over and over.

You can do it. Take imperfect action.

Do it scared. No one will know, but you.

Sharing my Gifts

Julie speaking at IAMU Live event

Photo by Isabella Zaczek

Whew! I’m back from New York, where I had the honor to speak at Rick Tamlyn’s event, “It’s All Made Up Live!” I was up on the stage, in front of over a hundred people, talking about my message and my forthcoming book, The Creative Heroine’s Path.

As I reach out to share my work in the world, I’m connecting with people who want and need my gifts—and it’s both scary and exciting.

It’s scary, because being authentic and vulnerable in front of people whom I don’t know activates the awkward seventh-grader in me, the girl who’s afraid she’ll look stupid.

It’s exciting, because when I speak from my heart, people who are touched by my words thank me. That’s how I know my dreams aren’t just mine; sometimes they’re yours, too.

As I continue to walk on the Creative Heroine’s Path, I keep pushing myself to show up, to share who I am, and to offer what I have to give to others. In that spirit, I’m really excited to announce that I’ve opened a Zazzle store, to sell some of my paintings and photographs online!

Here’s the link to my new store.

Julie's art cards

Right now, you can buy greeting cards with three of my watercolor paintings, and one of my favorite photos. I am committed to keep sharing my art, so I’ll add more paintings and photos over the next few months.

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer with lots of light, music, nature, family, and friends.

Love,
Julie

Dealing with Anxiety

Recently, someone asked, “How do you handle your anxiety, when the world seems out of balance, and you don’t feel very strong?”

We all feel this way at times, but it got me thinking about how I try to manage my own anxiety.

Stack of rocks on sand

I make myself stop, and take a few deep breaths. Then I do something that grounds me, like taking a walk, and really noticing the details of what’s around me—the sky, the shape of a tree, the smell of the fresh air. Or painting—focusing on the lines, the color flowing from the brush to the page.

Grounding and getting present is key. When you’re in that space, you can often hear your own inner wisdom more clearly, and your emotions, which are like weather, may shift.

If you’re still feeling unsettled, don’t fight not knowing yet. Accept that it’s just where you are at the moment. Trust that your soul is in a deep place; some process is happening deep within you.

It’s dark and full of pressure and currents, in that deep place. It’s not comfortable, but something is preparing to come into your consciousness—an insight, a new idea, an intuition, a way forward.

Get curious. What does your strong inner core want you to know?

My experience in knowing and working with other soulful, creative people, is that we’re wired in sensitive ways that allow us to bring up from the depths, treasures and insights, which we use in our art and in our lives. If, like me, you struggle with anxiety at times—doesn’t everyone, really—I hope this is useful.

Gratitude is the Attitude

Woman in gratitude

There are days when life feels like more of a struggle. When I’m tired and stressed, or sick, or an event has shaken me, my path seems more difficult.

At those times, it’s very tempting to compare my circumstances with other people’s. When I do that, my inner dragon—that negative inner voice—looks for a way that I (or someone close to me) have fallen short.

Woman standing on large map

I should be there by now!

The theme of my inner dragon is that I “should be” further along—in my writing, in my business, in my painting, in my life.

It’s a painful distraction from what I’m afraid might be even more painful: deeper inner assessment, and facing the action I need to take next.

Thankfully, sometimes my inner guide—that wise inner voice—injects compassion. Ironically, it’s empathy that allows me to look dispassionately at the harder stuff, and it’s usually not as bad as I was afraid it would be.

Self-compassion allows me to see that the “shoulds”—real or imagined—are in the past. Now, they’re simply knowledge that helps me take the next step. If I need to do something differently, I re-prioritize and get back to my creative practice.

When outer circumstances hinder my progress, self-compassion allows me to acknowledge that I don’t have control, so I can let go of the struggle. I know I will get back to my practice when I’m able.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

But what do you do when it’s not easy?

What do you do when your inner guide is on vacation?

Woman writing on pad of paper


I should have done…

When my inner guide is under a beach umbrella reading a good book, my inner dragon goes through a list of things that I “should” have done differently. To make it worse, I usually mingle that list with things that I think other people “should” have done differently.

Ugh! It’s kind of like an obsessive tape (record, DVD, MP3) playing in my mind.

When my fire-breathing inner dragon is scorching my soul, I try to remember to stop, drop, and roll.

Stop Obsessing

Stop the negative tape! If you keep going over the same thoughts again and again, you won’t get anywhere.

Needless struggle—focusing on the negative and worrying about the future—is a waste of your spirit. It ties up your energy in what you don’t want to happen. And it keeps you from discovering deeper insight into the situation.

Life is not about being “better” (or “worse”) than someone else; it’s about being who you are. It’s about accepting that life is a journey, that spiritual growth involves trying and failing, over and over, until you succeed.

And then you start the process all over again with something else.

Drop the Drama

Drama—unnecessary guilt or blame—does nothing to help the situation. You may have no outward control, but you are always free to choose your inner response.

Energy is the currency of the spirit. It allows us to create in this world. You are creating all the time, whether you realize it or not. Whatever result you want in the outer world needs to happen inwardly first.

If you focus your energy on struggle, or worry, or how things are not going your way, what are you creating? What do you want  to create?

Just as the energy of the sun helps bring forth a tree from an acorn, your energy helps you create an outcome, through the focus of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Your values and beliefs are the energy behind your efforts. Listen to your deeper values.

Roll with It

Let go of your attachment to the immediate outcome. Of course, you care, but worrying about it keeps you stuck. It ties up your energy and focus.

Stay open and curious. Consider that there are bigger forces at work.

When you step back to look at the larger picture, it helps you see the context. Sometimes, there’s a difference between what you want  to happen, and what needs  to happen for your growth.

You are on a journey, with lots of twists and turns. Some events seem like setbacks at first, but in retrospect, you realize they were essential.

Practice Gratitude

When all else fails, call your inner guide—and your compassion—home by practicing gratitude.

You have real blessings in your life. When you take the time to notice and appreciate them, your heart softens. And when your heart is less constricted, your mind is free to see what’s possible.

Woman grateful

When you’re feeling sorry for yourself, gratitude is the attitude to set you free.

What are you grateful for?

A Thread of Thought

Seed hanging in spider web

Virginia Woolf’s premise—that a woman needs money and a room of her own to write—is certainly true for anyone who creates. Having enough money and your own space gives you precious, uninterrupted time—and a place to focus.

Stretches of time are essential to my writing, if I’m going to go deep enough. The more “little” things that interrupt my day, the harder it is for me to tap into my creativity.

I started today feeling creative. On my morning walk with my dog, I thought about what I might write about in this blog post. Then I had a routine health appointment, and after that, a grocery store trip. And then, I navigated traffic to get home, and made lunch.

Now, here I am, trying to get back to where I was hours ago. If I imagine my mental space to write as its own landscape with a map, can I get back to where I was?

Backtracking sometimes works. Taking another walk would probably do it. But it’s 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside. So instead, I’m sitting at my desk in an office of my own, enjoying the rotating fan that helps me weather my hot flashes!

When you can’t backtrack, take another path.

Yesterday, as I sweltered in the hot, humid yoga studio, the teacher said that heat is transformative. Her comment stayed with me, because when I’m experiencing intense change and growth, I often think of myself as “being cooked.” When I’m completely submerged in it, I call it “being in the soup.”

Following my thread of thought, from uninterrupted time and space to the heat of transformation, what do I find there?

A single bead of sweat, clinging to the end of the thread, like a jewel.

View of shoreline through water drop

When I look through that clear sphere of water, I see shapes distorted. I am reminded of a snow globe, with a tiny world inside, curving inward.

So if my mind is a map, and it curves back on itself, I realize that even when I think I’ve lost an idea, or a description, it’s still there, cooking, breaking down, re-forming, and blooming in warm, rich soil.

In the end, if I stay with it long enough, something emerges.

If you don’t have uninterrupted time, and a place to create your art, it’s up to you to make that happen. And when life interrupts, wander the paths of your own mind. Root around in the soil.

Keep going!

Something will turn up, I promise you.

Water drop over ripple