Saturday, January 27, 2018

Consider Creating for Happiness

In December I got an email from a fellow alumna of the art intensive course I took last year, Jan Allsopp, with an invitation to join her online program called Creating for Happiness, which is designed to encourage creating in small bits every day. When I took a look at her introductory materials, I could see how closely aligned her thoughts are with those I wrote in Sober Play: Using Creativity for a More Joyful Recovery. And since I can always use more encouragement to focus on my art, I signed up for her program.

Jan sends a brief encouraging email every day to help us stay on track and there's a Facebook page for the group where people post all manner of creative efforts, some simple, some extravagant, and we cheer each other along. You don't have to be any kind of artist to do this, just somebody who'd like to spend a little time each day creating something.

Jan's program is free and you can start anytime. You can take a look at

Monday, January 22, 2018

My January daily creative practice

This year one of my possibilities is to do a small creative something every day and to change that something every month. I had this idea before I joined the Creating for Happiness program and I've found it to be a great support.

My January something is a digital painting done with Art Set Pro, a $6.99 app for i Pad or iPhone. It's an art studio with no set up or clean up, and I am having so much fun with it.  My practice is to do a painting in 10 minutes or less before I go to bed. Sometimes I spend just 3-4 minutes but never more than 10. I'm not ony getting used to the app but some of the paintings are things I want to do in a larger format in the studio.

Here are some of my quick explorations:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Choosing not to stay informed

I stopped attending to the news (newspaper, TV) about 30 years ago. I found it too depressing. The only exception I made were a couple of very small town newspapers that reported local events and a lot of good stuff about the town's residents.

My parents watched the news every night; they felt it was really important to stay informed. And so I felt guilty for a while when I stopped knowing what was going on in the world. But now I don't.

I revisit my decision from time to time, but I've yet to change my mind. Here's why. First, a large percentage of the news is meant to frighten us into accepting the untrue and unacceptable and lettingcorporations make money on "fixing" the problem. There is little celebration of all the many beautiful, wonderful, kind, and generous things people do for each other, so we get a very skewed outlook.

Second, if something earth-shattering happens, someone will let me know. I don't need to worry about that.

Third, I don't have enough time left in my life to spend on lies, fabrications, manipulations, and demagogues. I don't want to focus my energy on bad behavior and greed and violence. I want to experience the best of others and to do that in person.

I don't feel I'm in denial about the malfaisance and idiocies of our culture and world; I just don't need to know a lot more about it than I already do. 

What is your relationship with the news?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Another great post from Nick Wilton for all of us creatives

3 Steps to Make Your Dreams Come True

By Nicholas Wilton 

If you have a dream, something you are passionate about achieving in your life, sometimes it can be reassuring to look back a few years. How did you previously accomplish something that is now present in your life that was at one time just a dream? 

I do this all the time. In doing so, I have noticed a pattern of behavior. 

There have always been a series of sequential steps taken. They have been present in every journey I have taken from a dream to reality. 

These steps have become so familiar I finally just had to give them a name. I call it the 
Pattern of Desire. 

Maybe this could be helpful for you too. 

Step One – Begin in any way possible. 

This is the hardest step as it involves some degree of courage. Whatever that thing is you desire, whether it is writing a blog, dramatically improving your Art, learning to sing (that one terrifies me) or even quitting your day job to do whatever that is your more passionate about, you first must just do one thing. 

You must begin. The first steps can be small but they are essential. Do that one thing that moves you a tiny bit closer towards the dream. 

The “Living on the Amalfi Coast in Italy, making Art in the morning and swimming in the warm sea every afternoon” dream (Oh you have that one too?) might possibly start by taking a beginning Italian class at the local community college. Getting your Art in a prestigious gallery might begin by taking a trip to visit and possibly just saying hello. 

It is hard because it is an actionable step. You must DO something. You must be proactive. It is scary because any worthwhile dream carries within it the fact that you have never actually been there before. It is all brand new. And that is scary. 

So make it a small step but simply begin it in any way possible. The pattern will not work if this step is not first taken. The world will never know what truly extraordinary thing you were thinking of bringing to life. You simply must first begin. 

Step 2 – Talk about it 

The repercussions of taking an actionable step towards whatever that desired thing is in your life is significant. Almost immediately the payback comes in some form of exhilaration. Pushing send on that first ever blog post you just wrote, or starting to paint on the biggest painting you have ever tried, gives you the secret sauce you need to maintain momentum. It also is newsworthy. 

I always tell my students that the challenges they are overcoming, getting their work from A to B might not be pretty, it might be hard but it is almost always super interesting for other people to hear about. We all appreciate the Mona Lisa but wouldn’t it be fascinating to hear how Leonardo felt insecure the day he painted it? That he was going to work on that other painting of his neighbor’s dog but since he couldn’t find it in his messy studio he just decided to work on the one of that rather plain looking girl he had started but didn’t feel particularly good about?

So let the thrill of beginning enter your life and share it with those around you. Talk about what it feels like to have your first ever reader comment on something you have written, say you feel happy in Italian or share on Instagram a photo of that started painting that is so big it practically couldn’t fit into your studio. 

It is not boasting. It is generosity because your willingness, your bravery to take a step towards whatever it is you desire in your life inspires everyone around you. Talking about it, sharing it also adds to your momentum. Like a child first learning to ride a 2-wheel bicycle, you are wobbly but OMG! I think I am actually doing this and now the feeling is contagious. This is big news. Make sure all those you care about know about it. Tell them your dream is starting to come true. Because, in fact, it is. 

Step 3 – Teach Someone 

I used to think I had to be the world’s biggest expert to teach. I now see how that thinking was flawed. It really held me back for years from helping people because of course I never could really become the world s biggest expert in anything. It is also not necessary. In fact, all that is needed is that you are simply just a few bends down the road ahead of the person you are teaching. So wherever you are on the road to accomplishing whatever you desire in your life, I assure you there are quite a few people behind you wishing they were where you are right now. 

So help them. 

The act of teaching, offering guidance will not only be super helpful for those around you but equally important to you. There is enormous personal conviction gained by teaching. The universal principles of first giving and then in turn receiving – not to mention the confidence and personal authority that all comes with helping others – is often all the additional tailwind that is needed to hold your course steady to the realization of your true desires. 

It does of course take time. It might take years. However, knowing that you are on a reliable course, that there is a worn path ahead of you, makes the journey far more doable. If the journey is familiar, it will be palatable. The path can be enjoyable and even exhilarating. If it is, there is a strong likelihood you will remain upon it. And of course if you do, then that desire that once was only a dream, might just possibly come true.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A report on my spaciousness project

For years, I've created an overarching intention for the new 12 months as I move closer to how I want to be in my life. 2017 has been the year of spaciousness and peace of mind, and oh, what a difference having those filters on my choices and decisions has made.

I've mostly used the spaciousness filter on my schedule and my to-do list. I've lowered my expectations as to what I can get done in a day or a week. I've shifted to seeing my task list as possibilities rather than expectations. I do what I can with a big margin in between for moving around, stretching, taking care of little odds and ends, connecting with friends and family, resting and reading.

The peace of mind filter has trained me to pause before making decisions. Will eating this increase my peace of mind? Will accepting this invitation mean an experience that will be peaceful and satisfying? What will happen to my peace of mind if I take on one more paid project this week? Is there good space for it or am I wanting to say yes out of scarcity, which never leads to peace of mind?

I plan to continue to practice these filters into 2018 as they are a huge gift in my life.

What might a spaciousness/peace of mind filter do for you?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A great way to get two minutes of serenity a day

My niece Lisa Simmons has spent her professional life as a chemical engineer cleaning up toxic waste sites, challenging and interesting work for sure, but not always the most rewarding. Over the last several years, she's been turning her creativity towards quieter things and has developed a wonderful video program called Live Serenity. It's a subscription service and each week day she posts a new 2-minute video of a gorgeous natural location, usually with natural sounds, and reminds us to breathe and be here now. You can watch them as many times as you like and they will run as a loop as well.

I liked it so much I got a subscription for two friends  for Christmas. While this is clearly a plug for Lisa's project, I also want to acknowledge her for creating something that contributes to peace and well-being in the world, a gift we need more and more of.

Check it out at