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Creativity, Lifestyle, Spirituality

Prince, the End of the Week and a Necessary Soulful Smackdown

“Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb, we could all die any day. But before I’ll let that happen, I’ll dance my life away.” ~ Prince

Music is powerful.

Every cell of my body will forever reverberate with excitement upon the very hint of When Doves Cry. Recognizing that its resonance partly has to do with nostalgia, there’s also a certain something to the song that I can’t quite verbalize. Something that draws me into every note and makes it ridiculously difficult (if not impossible) to remain still and not belt the lyrics on the top of my lungs. After all, Prince was a creative genius.

With his passing, we’re reminded that life is short.
Through his example we’re reminded to love without abandon and play hard.
To embrace our imperfections.
Indulge on occasion.
Flirt with intelligence.
Choose carefully when to ‘do’ vs. when to ‘be’.
To trust and forgive ourselves.
To laugh it off.
Sleep on it.
Stretch.
Dance.
Sing.
And move with intention.

With mad, mad crazy love, TGIF.

Authenticity, Creativity

Life, Art and Creativity: Getting Stuck and How To Find Our Flow Again

“I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.” ~ Helena Bonham Carter

Along with art being present in everything we do and who we are, comes the need for creativity, fresh perspectives and inspiration – as it applies to all this day-to-day stuff. Whether we’re plugging away on an assignment at work or staring at a blank canvas with a paintbrush in hand, we need to plug into our creative nature to move forward. But sometimes, we just get stuck.

I can’t possibly recall the multitude of times I’ve sat in front of my laptop, staring at an open Word document, trying to squeeze something out. Just a paragraph, sentence or even a completely random thought, hoping to spark an idea and a narrative thread only to find myself completely uninspired.

But in these cases when we feel like we’re creating something – some concrete form of output – we often assume that these are the only times we need to tap into our inspiration or creativity. But what about the other times we need to get creative and fresh in our thinking?

I was in the grocery store the other day wandering around the produce section when I realized that I’ve been cooking pretty much the same stuff, with the same ingredients on rotation for a long while now. We can often stick to the same old, same old because it’s quick and easy. Couldn’t that use a fresh perspective?

Then there are the times that I bump into a difficult situation with someone. Disagreements and issues are inevitable when we’re dealing with other people but sometimes we get stuck on what to say, how to broach a difficult subject and what really bothered us about it all in the first place. Sometimes we can’t see what’s really bugging us and what we can do to communicate clearly and fairly. Couldn’t that use some creativity?

Here’s the thing though, when we get stuck on something – be that a creative project, a mundane habit or routine or even sticky situations with other people – the more we try to force an outcome or solution, the more we’ll find ourselves stuck.

Inspiration often hits us when we least expect it and when we aren’t replaying details in our head, overthinking every last detail.

We paint the most beautiful pieces of art when we literally turn up the music and get lost in the vibe or find that silence between thoughts where we’re not worrying about things and let that energy take over. We get inspired when we sit back, take a deep breath and just paint, letting the composition reveal itself to us.

We get inspired to change things up when we’re open to it. More often than not, when we set the intention to change something in life, we’ll see things pop up in our days that would suggest how to go about making that change. We might get ideas of who to reach out to, what to do differently and which options are available to us.

We understand how to deal with hiccups in our relationships with others when we step away from a problem and stop trying to ‘figure it all out’. When we gain some distance from our troubles, it’s often easier to see the crux of the issue and get a better handle on what’s what.

Getting creative and finding our flow happens when we open up to possibilities. It happens when we decide to surrender the thinking that we can dig up a solution to every problem as long as we think long and hard enough about it. Getting creative and finding our flow happens when we let go and let inspiration find us.

And sometimes (a lot of the time) getting creative and finding inspiration is about making progress. Sometimes it’s about uncovering a way to move ahead (not finding a way, but revealing it). And sometimes (a lot of the time) progress is about compassion – about being gentle on ourselves and the process. It’s often through this compassion that we begin to move forward and find our flow again.

Painting cred: Patrice Murciano.
Creativity, Learning, Wellness

Three Metrics I Use To Measure Success

I can pinpoint two pivotal moments in my life when I realized that I had to redefine what success means to me and what I thought I needed to be successful.

The first time was when I sat my husband down on the couch to tell him that I wanted a divorce.

If you had asked me to bust out my ‘what I need to be successful’ checklist, I would’ve ticked off every box. Married and settled? Check. Great career and income? Check. House and car? Check and check. But something was missing. I was exhausted all the time, uninspired, unhappy and my body was getting sick.

So I got that divorce and worked at an advertising company for the next 6 years. When it was time to move on, I moved on. When I quit my job, I announced that I was leaving to start my own business. I became the poster child for everyone I knew who hated their job, their boss or their coworkers. I was ‘that girl’ who flipped the bird to ‘the man’ and decided to try things on her own terms.

Over the next 3 years, I was speaking, creating, coaching, consulting with big companies and solopreneurs, and facilitating workshops and seminars. I was doing things I never thought I would that scared the living shit out of me. But I was also riding a financial roller coaster. In the beginning of my business, I was making good money. And then came September 2015 when I had to restructure my business to suit my lifestyle. At that point, I was barely making enough money to pay for groceries and was watching my hard-earned savings slowly disappear.

And again, I found myself tired and burnt out from trying everything I could to make things work. That’s when I decided to start looking for a job.

I felt like a fraud. And a big fat failure.

But I also realized that I had never been more successful in my life.

And that’s because I chucked that stupid list I had of things I thought I should be doing and labels that didn’t suit me. Instead, I decided to move with 3 metrics to measure my success.

1. Am I comfortable with being uncomfortable. There’s a saying that you need to feel the fear and do it anyway and I totally agree. Often the things that we’re most afraid of are the things that we really need to do. But I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that I need to conquer my fear. I think fear can be a healthy thing and I know myself – if I’m not scared of something, I’m not challenging myself and eventually I’ll get bored. So instead, I strive to be comfortable with the discomfort. That means that I’m not flipping out on the people I love the most when I’m stressed about money, business or how things are going (or not). It also means that I’m good to myself in the process and rolling with the punches – choosing not to close when things don’t go my way.

2. Am I being flexible. If I’ve learned anything about creativity and business, it’s that for every single thing I’ve tried that works – everything that produces the outcome I’m hoping for – I do ten things that flop. And that’s ok. Rather than trying to force things to turn out a certain way or thinking there’s one way to do something, I try to be flexible and understand when to change course. If something clearly isn’t working, I need to be open to other possibilities in life.

3. Am I going with my gut. Every time I’ve had that nagging feeling in my gut to not do something or connect with someone in particular and I’ve forced myself to do it anyway, I look back and think “shit. I knew that wouldn’t work.” I’m not talking about feeling the fear here, I’m talking about the nagging feeling that something is off. When I move towards the things that I know deep down will help me grow, the things that inspire me, give me goosebumps and feel good, I find that I’m way more successful. And more often than not, those things open doors to other opportunities I didn’t even know existed.

I think we need to redefine success for ourselves every so often. We need to check in and see if the things we’re chasing – the things we think we really want the most – are the things we really need.

We need to understand that sometimes success is a straight line from A to B. And sometimes, we need to zig and zag, take a step forward and two steps back. And sometimes success in life happens only when we go full circle.

I think we need to give ourselves permission to try new things. We need to forgive ourselves when those things don’t work out the way we thought and we want to default to negativity. And we need to celebrate when things go well.

We need to understand that we’re all on the same boat – we all doubt ourselves sometimes. We all have fears. We’re all just trying to figure things out for ourselves. And nobody has it all figured out.

Success happens – and we can consider ourselves successful – when we do our best and trust that our best is enough.

Creativity, Learning, Lifestyle, Spirituality

The Other ‘F Word’

Depending on who you ask, the word ‘feminist’ denotes both positivity and negativity. Strength and struggle. Acceptance and resistance.

Imagine that you’re a 9 year old girl and your family has sold your hand in marriage to a man you’ve never met for the price of a goat.

Imagine that you never made it past your second birthday since your parents decided to end your life because you are a girl.

Imagine that you’re expected to hole yourself up at home for a week every month because feminine hygiene products aren’t available at the corner store.

This is why we still need International Women’s Day.

Not because we need to place women on a higher pedestal than men. Not because women need to conquer the world and overthrow male power and dominance.

We celebrate because we’re reminded of the strides we’ve made toward gender equality. We celebrate because ‘his’tory is slowly being written to include a paradigm shift towards a fusion of masculine and feminine energy.

But we also need to take a moment to pause. While in some ways we’ve moved forward, in many ways and places far from our modern first-world backyards, women and girls undergo inhumane treatment unlike any we could ever possibly understand.

Gender inequality has been deeply ingrained and won’t disappear overnight. But we can start in our own backyards, by raising our consciousness to understand that we can begin to make a difference by taking a stand.

1. Are you a woman? Vote. In many places around the world, women have no voice. While I do believe that politics are corrupt, today I remind myself that I still have the opportunity to make my voice heard.

2. Donate your time or money. Pick a cause that resonates with you. It might be donating time or money to a local woman’s shelter. Find a charity that supports women’s freedom in a remote part of the world. Every small contribution adds up to a big difference.

3. Start a conversation. Ask a woman in your life about her experiences. Her answers may shock you. Speak to a young person in your life about gender equality and sexual consent. The future is young.

4. Support female artists. Make an effort to seek out and support female writers, musicians and artists. Without an audience, their voices will fade into the background.


 

I can envision a world where our young girls instinctively know that they’re powerful mavens and change-makers.

A world where women naturally make the income equivalent to a man doing the same job.

A world where a woman isn’t publicly and ruthlessly shamed for speaking out about abuses against her own body.

A world where those abuses are no longer tolerated in the first place.

Where she can freely choose when and if she gets married and has children.

Where she is free to experience and explore pleasure, desire and her innate strength without being hatefully labelled as a ‘slut’, ‘whore’ or ‘bitch’.

Where the feminine body, energy, creative power and emotional currency are respected, appreciated and celebrated for the ability to shift, nurture and create.

Today is International Women’s Day.

Let’s take one step closer to a world with more love and less hate.