What Matters to You?

Little girl offering red fuzzy heart

Last weekend, I attended Rick Tamlyn’s “Play Your Bigger Game” retreat.

“Bigger” is all about finding and doing your good work in the world.

“Game” refers to the tool.

You’re always on the “playing board,” and you can choose which step to take next—without beating yourself up about where you happen to be at the moment. Once you learn it, you never have to be “stuck” again.

I can’t wait to use this tool with my clients!

My husband came to the retreat with me. This morning, as we were discussing the retreat—and the grounded soul of someone he feels called to work with—things about my own work clicked into place for me.

Compassion is a way of deeply seeing

I’ve always tried to reflect back their beauty and worth to others, and encourage them to live the lives that are most meaningful to them.

I try to look at others through the lens of what I imagine God looks through. When I choose that perspective—often unconsciously—I see  the person I’m engaging with. Judgment may not completely fall away, but compassion reveals their inner light.

Each of us is unique. Yet each of us has more in common with everyone else than we realize. That’s why sharing our gifts is so powerful. It’s both distinctive—adding perspective—and connecting—creating a bridge between your perspective and mine.

We all want and need connection

Elephants with trunks intertwined

Creativity is an important way to connect with others. It opens a window between the worlds of the creator and the appreciator.

When I look at the sunflowers carved into my favorite mug, I see the movement of the potter’s hands baked into clay. There’s a little bit of soul in that mug.

When I read an essay by a writer who struggled through her own doubts and trials, who distilled her wisdom into clear, strong words, I see new possibilities.

In both experiences—looking at my mug and reading an essay—I am enriched.

Listen! I can’t say this enough.

You have a purpose and meaning in this world. Share it. Connect. Be real. We need you!

There are many ways to love the world. What is yours?

Check out the Bigger Game
and Rick’s book, Play Your Bigger Game.

Take Time to Rejuvenate

Woman's feet with flowers in toes

A little over a week ago, I hosted a day-long creativity retreat. It was about reconnecting with your “muse”—a personification of inspiration and imagination—to jump-start your creative projects.

It was wonderful and magical, and lots of fun! And I loved creating the retreat.

As a sensitive and introverted entrepreneur, I’m still learning how to pace myself. Just like with any creative endeavor, I need to strike a balance between being and doing.

As I began to design the retreat, I tapped into my own muse—big time! Some nights, I was up until 3 AM, buzzing with ideas and details of what I was going to do.

The work was exciting, inspirational, and fun! But after that sustained burst of creativity, after completing that lovely day with other super-creative souls, I needed time to rejuvenate, to refill my well.

I’m just now getting back into my creative space, after the retreat and a week of traveling.

And I’m reminding you what I’m reminding myself. Pay attention to how you feel and what your body is telling you. It’s essential to take a break when you need it. Trying to “force” creativity never works.

So when your well is getting low, put up your feet, stick some daisies between your toes, lean back into the cool grass and feel the warm sun on your face, and daydream. Watch the clouds change shape. Listen to the birds singing.

Let your well fill up again.

The Power of Vulnerability

Small puppy peeking through bushes

Last week, I posted a blog about feeling hopeless. It was a little scary for me to share. Maybe a lot scary. I wrote it from a place of strength and wellness, but I was very open about a rough couple days I had the previous week.

One of the things I’ve been struggling with lately—as a writer and an entrepreneur—is showing up authentically. I’m good at the supportive, uplifting stuff. But sharing about the harder things activates all sorts of fears for me, and they all boil down to this: worrying about the judgment of others.

It just about kills me to admit that.

All my life, I’ve been proud of thinking for myself, not going along with the crowd. Peer pressure always seemed lame to me. I think when people try to pressure others to conform, it is often really about their own doubts about themselves and their choices. When you can see through the surface behavior to what’s really going on, it doesn’t have power over you.

Which brings me back to caring about what people think.

Of course, I care about how people react to what I share. In fact, I want them to react, because I want to touch people in ways that make a difference, no matter how small, in their lives.

But the truth is, some people just won’t relate to what I have to say. Others won’t like it, some will misunderstand it, and everyone will have some sort of judgment about it.

The challenge is to show up anyway.

When I was in fourth grade, my family moved to a new city. I left the group of kids I’d gone to school with for four years—all of my school life. At my new school, because I was new (and vulnerable), some kids were quite mean to me. For the first two weeks, I came home every day and cried.

Then one afternoon, I thought, “I would never  treat another human being that way!”

Something clicked. As soon as I realized I had no respect for those kids, I didn’t care what they thought of me.

And then, something interesting happened. The very next day, no one was mean to me—no cruel teasing or attempts to belittle me. It was that dramatic. Overnight.

Of course, there were a few times over the years, when a mean kid would say something to try to hurt me, but it didn’t get under my skin. That’s probably why it rarely happened.

I learned that there is real energy in our beliefs. Every time I “tried” to not to care, it didn’t work. It was only when I really didn’t care, that the miracle happened. And it was based on being true to my values.

I didn’t try to put on a “tough” skin, or act like someone I wasn’t. I stayed true to myself, and learned an important lesson about life. I could be both vulnerable and strong.

So—what is the power of being vulnerable?

You may help someone. You never know who may be struggling with the same thing. Sometimes just knowing we’re not alone makes a world of difference.

Your authenticity shines more brightly. Some of the energy caught up in hiding who you are gets released into simply being yourself.

You gain resilience. When when you practice good boundaries and listen to your intuition about what you choose to share, and with whom, you learn that it’s safe to be real. As others accept you for who you are, you learn to accept your own frailties, which strengthens you.

And the truth is, there are people who want to know who you are, what you think, how you feel. I’m thrilled to see the movement of energy in Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings. I’m in awe when I read Rumi’s poetry. I laugh out loud at the cat videos people post on Facebook.

View through colored glass in kaleidoscope

The perspectives we share with each other are kaleidoscopes of meaning.

They are little stained-glass windows into someone else’s soul.

They enrich our experiences on this earth. They add depth, lightness, and beauty. And I am grateful for all of it.

To borrow a piece of wisdom from one of my clients, don’t “hoard” yourself and your gifts!

How can you bring more of who you are into your self-expression?
(And what are you waiting for?)

Are You Waiting to Bloom?

Pink tulips on blue table

For a long time, I thought I had to wait until something external “happened” to live a creative life. Until I won the lottery. Until I retired. Until somehow, life gave me permission.

Of course, I never stopped being creative. It’s as much a part of living as breathing. I am compelled to write, paint, and take photographs—and when I don’t express myself in these ways, all is not right with my world.

But more often than not, I would put my creative expression below everything else. I told myself that I would paint when the dishes were done, or write when the weekend came, or take photographs on my next vacation.

Who was I kidding?

Every moment brings us a fresh choice. Now, instead of thinking my creative expression will bloom someday, I see it blossom over and over again, every time I nurture it.

Enough blossoms, and you have a bouquet! A portfolio. A body of work. A completed novel.

So pick up your paint brush, camera, or whatever you use in your creative expression. Don’t wait for all the dishes in your life to be done.

Paint now. Write now. Plant your garden now.

Ultimately, you give yourself permission to create, no one else. You create your own precious life, one moment at a time.

Saying “No” to the Default Life

What is a “default” life? It’s when you compromise your deepest values and authentic self-expression, for something you think  will keep you safe.

How does it feel to live a default life? Thoreau’s description of living a life of “quiet desperation” sums it up well.

How do you say “no” to a “status quo” life, especially when being responsible for ourselves requires that we do make compromises, that we must do things that we wouldn’t choose to if we had no responsibilities?

First, get clear and stay clear about your deepest values. That is essential. Those values are your True North. Use them to guide you. At times, you might choose to compromise a lesser value to be true to a deeper value. But when your life feels off-track, look at where you may or may not be true to yourself, and make adjustments.

Second, find a way to do what you love every week. If expressing your creativity is one of your values, honor it. Carve out at least a couple hours. Paint. Write. Fly. Take photos. Make collages. Write music. Sing. Play. Get inspired. Share your gifts with your friends.

Creative expression really is an act of defiance against living a status quo life. It keeps imagination and possibility alive!

Creativity is an act of defiance. - Twyla Tharp