Monday, August 25, 2014

The End of August Moon and The Start of..?

Many thanks to all of you who continue to stop by and read here at my blog. Lately, I've been writing for August Moon, instead of sharing my creative projects, but that will change soon, especially since August Moon is now coming to an end...

The final prompts of August Moon are:

Gently Go
Do It Now
Here's To Your Future!

So let me commence upon on these final prompts before I return to my regularly programmed schedule of creative project sharing...

GENTLY GO
This prompt begins with the question:
"How will you start the journey? If you're anything like me you have spent the past two weeks gathering information about yourself and now you're itching to do something. I invite you..to contemplate the path ahead from a place of greater self-compassion. What sort of trust would this require?"

Self-compassion is not easy for me, probably because I had many expectations placed on me as a first born child (another story for another time) and I continue to push myself to this day.

Neither is trust an easy thing for me and that has been a constant for much of my life. But at least I can say that I am getting better at letting my life unfold at it's own pace, which I think is a form of self-compassion and the letting go that goes with the unfolding is a form of trust I'm getting used to.

Life has not been particularly easy for me these past months of 2014 and my trust in the Universe has eroded because of it, along with my manifesting mojo.

Sometime last week, I came upon yet another blog post about 'lists like prayers' and I'd made a copy of it as something to try out as a practice for myself. Come to find that I've been making quite a few lists with these August Moon prompts!

And watching as some of the items on my August Moon 'lists' are beginning to germinate, I'm starting to think that if I can keep a sense of playfulness in what I want to manifest, along with a 'lets see what happens!' enthusiasm as I create some new lists for my life, then I just might be able to regain my old manifesting mojo, which has been sorely lacking these past few months.

Then maybe my trust in the magic of the Universe will return.

DO IT NOW
"What if there was no need to wait until you're 'perfectly formed'? Don't wait until you have it all figured out. Pick something easy, something scary. Just start. And keep going."

My own life coach has advised me to 'start where I am' and to 'begin imperfectly' on a regular basis, so I think I am doing okay with both concepts in some aspects. I finally put up my folding table in my workspace, despite my workspace being a cluttered mess, which is certainly 'imperfect':


...and I try to chip away at the clutter, starting where I am, so I can return to teaching some workshops in the new place I now call home.

I've been meaning to 'pick something scary' for awhile now and that is to make some videos for my blog. Now while I can attempt to 'begin imperfectly', the mere thought of figuring out how to edit and save a video for loading into my blog is almost too overwhelming for my little brain! But I will see what I can do before the end of this year...

"What if what you are doing right now was actually your destination? What would that mean for your journey?"

The idea that 'what I am doing right now is actually my destination' is not a particularly happy one - I am living in a place that doesn't reflect a lot of ME, I am surrounded by more than my own clutter, and I am making NO MONEY right now, despite choosing MONEY as my Word of the Year...which makes me think that I should change my WOTY as suggested by Kat herself in one of her blog posts from July!

If I just looked at 'what I am doing right now' and attempted to judge my journey on that, it does not look promising, but when I look at all that I've written so far and see some connections I've made, both through August Moon, along with connections I'm venturing to make elsewhere as a way to manifest what I need in my life right now, I think my current journey is looking a lot brighter.

And that is making me feel a lot better about where I am in my life right now.

HERE'S TO YOUR FUTURE!
"Fast forward a year...write a little love note to yourself from yourself a year from now. What does your one-year-older, one-year-wiser self have to say to where you are now?"

I don't often write letters to my past self, or even my future self, but after reading an interesting 'letter to my 20-year-old self' at a blog I recently discovered, it made me think twice about writing letters to oneself altogether...

And I just might write a letter to myself and keep it tucked away until Kat prompts us to open that letter...but in the meantime, here is something I should know this time next year, that I think you would like to peek at:

TO: Creative Beast of  2014
FROM: Creative Beast of 2015

"Oh, you Creative Beast you! Once again, despite all obstacles, you have managed to keep your wits about you and survive many challenges big and small. This is due in no small part to your creative problem solving skills, skills that many would kill for since so few actually have them to use in their own lives. (Case in point: those 'negative energy suckers' aka 'fringe dwellers' that occasionally make an appearance in your life - but the upside in having to put up with these fools is that they provide some great material/stories/Aesop's fables you often entertain your friends with!)

You've managed to bring in much needed money to your new household of two with your sewing and art skills by teaching some wonderful and enthusiastic students, as well as sewing for some wonderful women who actually LIVE OUT OF STATE, something you would never have thought was possible, but when fun, engaging and interesting opportunities spring up, you always know which ones are the RIGHT ONES for YOU.

You have a small but trusted group of creatives who are also following a creative entrepreneurial path so you now have the support you need to continue forging a creative business with all the fun, engaging and interesting challenges that come with self-employment and you do love fun, engaging and interesting, but not difficult, challenges!

There is much more I want to celebrate with you, Creative Beast of 2014, but Creative Beast of 2015 knows that her blog readers have only so much time to read, and Creative Beast of 2015 also knows when to keep an audience on the edge of their seats, hungry for the next chapter, so be sure to stay tuned, one and all, for the continuing adventures of the Creative Beast in 2014!"

"Keep this letter somewhere safe. I'll remind you to open it this time next year. You have my word of honor there will be glorious surprises."

I think I will write out this letter to my future self and I will keep it safe until it is time to open it and see what magic has come to pass this time next year...stay tuned so we both find out what has come to pass!

***   ***   ***

What about you, dear friend? What letter would you write to yourself, one year from today? What encouragement would your one-year-wiser self share with you that you could use in your life right now? Better still, why not try writing a letter to your younger self and let her know how proud you are of the challenges you both have survived? It might just bring more courage to face what is ahead of you today!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Stylish Space, Impossible Dreams and More With August Moon

The following prompts are brought to you by Kat McNally, lovely hostess of August Moon 2014 and writer at the blog 'I Saw You Dancing'. You can still sign up to receive daily prompts in your email to 'write your way to an amazing life' HERE and you can also request the prompts that you are most interested in - you can journal them publicly or privately, it's your choice!

With that said, my interest was piqued when this prompt came to my inbox:
Outer Space

Then I was pleasantly surprised by this prompt, when I read the full explanation behind it:

With Thanks

And then this prompt arrived in my email:

Dreaming The Impossible

There's lots of juicy stuff to explore here, so let me begin with my thoughts on the first of three prompts for this blog post...

OUTER SPACE
I read those words for the August Moon prompt and for one wild moment I thought we would be pondering Extraterrestrial Life in the Universe, which would have been fun for me since I have a secret love of exploring the Universe beyond Earth...I've also expressed a keen desire to be a Storm Chaser, so maybe that's not much of a surprise to any of my long-time readers*...

But then I looked further into the prompt:
"What is the perfect space for you? We’re going to take a step back and look at the space around us...wherever our true work gets done and the magic happens...What would your perfect space look like?"

If you have been reading here lately, you will know that I am not happy with my lack of a decent studio space to work in and you might know what a challenge it has been to really make it happen...

Though I can say that I managed to add a 'work table' into my creative space since my last rumblings of dissatisfaction:

And it didn't take long before this table was covered with clutter, but that's another post for another day...

I'm still frustrated by having to squeeze my old 2-bedroom, living room-as-collage-studio home into one small space.

And I'm not much happier with the way the rest of this new home looks, since there is very little storage space and my dear boyfriend brought a LOT with him, especially since he has yet to grasp the fundamental principles of 'cleaning and clearing' to make space in ones life for BETTER THINGS.

But with the idea to muse on what my 'dream space' would look like, I realize it's time to stop grumbling and time to be kind to myself with each tiny step I accomplish toward making my studio a functioning one...and it's time to start dreaming a little and focus on what I DO have in place already.

Just today, before I sat to write this post, I stumbled on a list I printed from a blog a few years ago and I think focusing on this list will help me to appreciate the space I live in.

Now to list a few things that would make my heart sing for a wonderful creative studio and/or home:
  • Less clutter!
  • Lots of shelves/bookcases to keep books and art supplies organized 
  • A painted wall or two
  • A worktable that can accommodate 4-6 students for at-home workshops
  • Colorful curtains that can adjust to allow lots of light or block too much hot sun!
  • An altar space for my studio AND my home
  • Special storage space (that we don't have to pay for!) for our beloved Christmas decorations
  • Fresh cut flowers
  • Art on the walls
If I can keep this list firmly in mind, then it might get easier to take those small steps and turn them into bigger steps until my dream spaces come to fruition...I'll be sure to report back when it happens!


WITH THANKS
At first I thought this was a prompt on sharing gratitude, which I am always happy to do, but when I read the further explanation of this prompt, I became rather giddy:
"What do people thank you for? What do they like about you, compliment you on? How do you surprise and delight other people?"

It's rare for me to extoll my virtues, but over time I have become aware that I am/can be a potent force in the lives of others and I've been able to hear the compliments that come my way as a means to glean what my 'superpowers' might be. So here is a little list of how I bring happiness to people who cross my path:
  • I am CREATIVE (this comes as no surprise!)
  • I INSPIRE others with my creativity - the word "inspire" comes up around me A LOT...
  • I have a great sense of HUMOR
  • I am an AMAZING LISTENER (sometimes it baffles me just how much people will spill when they first meet me!)
  • I am a great ENCOURAGE-er, what's usually known as a 'cheerleader' or 'coach'
  • I am STYLISH, when I make the effort, something I don't have much opportunity for these days
Now if I could just parlay some of this into more teaching opportunities, then more people could be 'surprised and delighted' by me and I think we could use more pleasant surprises and delight in the world, don't you??!?


DREAMING THE IMPOSSIBLE
At first I thought this prompt was going to be about more manifesting, but then I continued reading:
"What are the stories that limit you? It seems that we all have these stories...Who would you be without that story?"

"I am a poor Hispanic, raised on the wrong side of the tracks, doomed to live in poverty for the rest of my life"

That is my limiting story in a nutshell...

Or maybe it's 140 characters?? ;)

There are a few limiting stories that plague me, but this pretty much sums them all up. And the sad thing is that I didn't have this story when I was a child (do any of us have such stories as children?!?), but it crept up on me as I grew up and observed the world, and the adults, around me.

The dominating portion of this story is not even being a person of color, but a person of NO WEALTH...

Living in the suburbs of Los Angeles, with Hollywood as your 'backyard', it's hard not to notice the 'conspicuous consumption' around you, which begins in high school and goes on and on and on.

Being in the presence of 'people with money' is hard for me - I find they whine about really petty things that I can't relate to and I am often in the presence of such people since they are the 'fringe dwellers' I've written about in recent blog posts.

I am someone who has learned to do a lot with less, to make-do, buy used cars, make my own clothes, be thrifty and frugal, use coupons, find bargains in thrift shops and flea markets and, recently, I've learned how to spend my money (and Time!) in ways that are meaningful to me - books, art supplies, art workshops, museums and art retreats.

But let's face it - being frugal, using coupons, learning to find bargains, learning where all the best thrift shops and flea markets are, learning to live 'within ones means' and learning how to spend money in ways that are meaningful to you, are just not cool things people are interested in...

But then again, maybe I've just been a trailblazer, WAY ahead of my time:



Yes, it does seem that this economic crisis is being felt by just about everyone and people are adjusting to this situation that will not be leaving us anytime soon.

This TED Talk really resonated for me as I watched it since it jibed so much with how I've always lived my life...I guess that makes me a PRE Post-Crisis Consumer!

So with this in mind, if I really am a trailblazer in this new world-view, then I can change my old story to this new story:

"I am a TRAIL BLAZER, a pioneer in living a frugal life of meaningful value which brings me satisfaction and JOY!"

And in keeping with my frugality, it's less than 140 characters! ;)

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Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading! Be sure to check out what other August Moon participants are writing back at "I Saw You Dancing" - there is a lot of wonderful, juicy and inspiring writing happening out there!


* - If I have any long-time readers left! It does seem that my blog world has changed dramatically in the past few years, but I think the blog world is undergoing many changes indeed...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Many Musings with August Moon Prompts

Hello and greetings to everyone who is visiting from August Moon 14, the writing prompt series hosted by Kat McNally. It's been wonderful meeting new creative folks, making some new connections and reading what others have to say on the prompts we have received in the past week and there have been some juicy writings out there, let me tell you!

Today I will be musing on the following prompts:

Roadblocks or Just Detours?
Manifesting
Just One Thing
Time and Inner Space

Some of these prompts are related and some are not...or so I thought! Be sure to grab a favorite cuppa since this is yet another long post if you read it all at once or you can jump to each prompt by looking for the colored titles.

FYI: The first prompt is the longest with 'manifesting' and 'time and inner space' being the shortest...

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ROADBLOCKS
The prompt that came to my email was this:

"Roadblocks or just detours? What tends to trip you up? What is your kryptonite?"

When this prompt popped into my inbox, it got me thinking about what I wrote when I began to set my INTENTION at the start of this writing series, particularly, what I wrote about people that I feel are blocking me:

To rid myself of my angry feelings towards those who have been nasty and selfish to me so I can move forward in my life

I morphed this intention into something that actually works for me and my real needs right now, which I'll come back to when I write about MANIFESTING later in this post, but I want to review this 'intention' because this problem has been my personal kryptonite for a very long time now...

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this blog post by Danielle Laporte and it resonated SO STRONGLY, because the nasty, selfish people in my life were so aptly described in this blog post and my REACTION to them, even more so. Here are the words that illuminated my situation so brilliantly:

"There are endless reasons why someone or some situation might be 'bad for you.'
Subtle-but-perpetual criticism, toxic complaining, disconnection, narcissistic energy suckers, sheer boredom…
Take your pick of vibes that you’d rather not be around.
But a key reason that situations can be bad for you isn’t necessarily because of what a person or circumstance does “to you” — 
it’s how you will have to conform to the situation. The hurt happens when you shrink.
You will have to say less, dull your shine, pull in your power. You will play smaller, act dumber, mince your words.
You will restrain your magnificence — out of fear, or out of logic, or out of the intelligence to survive."

(Italics, boldness and color added to the key words in this illuminating wisdom are added by me)

In my original post, I used the phrase 'fringe-dwellers' to describe these people, which got some appreciative comments from some of my new visitors! I called them 'fringe-dwellers' since they do live on the fringe of my life, but the phrase provided Ms. Laporte is so much more on target: narcissistic energy suckers

And that narcissism is what makes these people so nasty and selfish. While these people do live on the fringe of my life, they have just enough presence on my radar that each encounter is like being in the presence of kryptonite, because of all the pulling, dulling and shrinking that takes place within me...

And when I think of why this pulling, dulling and shrinking takes place, it is because the narcissists don't like anyone else taking up their space!

Which is why they appear so selfish to me - my friends aren't threatened by my brilliance and, luckily, I have a few wonderful friends that remind me of how fabulous I am and how happy they are to have me in their lives.

SECRET: I'M the lucky one to have these treasured friends!! ;)

I most certainly do not get this positive acknowledgement from the fringe-dwellers in my life as they have never really wanted to learn how fabulous I am...and, believe me, I'm more than fine with that!

Unfortunately though, I have to tolerate them regularly throughout the year, which is always painful for me due to the amount of shrinking I have to do, and then the memories of these encounters invade my peace of mind, making the presence of these narcissists an almost daily one, which brings the anger and resentment that I know has been blocking me from my joy and financial abundance...

But as the years pass, my tolerance for shrinking stretches thinner and thinner and it gets harder and harder to do 'the polite thing' and keep my mouth shut...

If I look at the question in the prompt sent to me from Kat, 'roadblocks or just detours', it helps me stand back a bit and come to the conclusion that these fringe-dwellers are really just attempting to roadblock my JOY, probably because they have no authentic joy of their own.

Maybe if I view the time spent in their presence as 'temporary roadblocks', it will allow me to see these 'hazards on the road' as hazards I have the POWER to avoid in my own life, so I can adjust the course of my path accordingly. And with this I just might be able to make those nagging memories more like 'detour pitstops' and use them to help me realign back to myself.

They say that 'success is the best revenge'. If that's true, then maybe one day I can see those narcissistic energy suckers as a positive thing in my life. After all, if there is something a narcissistic energy sucker can't stand, it's the success of an empowered, brilliant being of JOY...or worse - being ignored by an empowered, brilliant being of JOY! ;)


MANIFESTING
The prompt that arrived in my inbox was this:

"Put out the call! Who can help you in manifesting your dream life?"

I think I unconsciously put out that call with the intention I made at the start of August Moon:

My intention is to continue with my creativity AND to search the company of other creative souls, because I know that those who serve their creative impulses are people of kindness, generosity and humor, things I need in my life right now since I'm having trouble remembering how to treat MYSELF with kindness, generosity and laughter

Now, while I just made mention of a few dear friends who are happy that I am in their life (and I feel the same about them in my life!), I have felt the need of a strong support system as I continue to navigate the waters of self-employed, self-sustaining Creative Work.

I once read this brilliant quote:

Employees commiserate, entrepreneurs BRAINSTORM

And reading this quote was like a light bulb switching on in my head. It clarified why I have been slowly distancing myself from the friends who are still living in the environment of corporate office life, a life I just can not return to if I want to retain a shred of my sanity!

Unfortunately for me, the friends who are still in corporate office life are commiserators, more interested in complaining about their work situations than they are invested in changing them.

I've reached a point in my life where I can no longer relate to this way of thinking or being. Over time, I've come to realize that I was never really good at it anyway, which explains my unhappiness and dissatisfaction with corporate office life. It's hard for me to listen to toxic complaining when I'd rather be brainstorming...or taking positive action.

Though I need a strong support system to help me navigate self-employment, I have the added challenge of trying to figure out what or how I want my creative work life to LOOK. There are many venues I have pursued so far and there are yet a few more channels I could pursue to earn an income to support myself. I've created a few opportunities for earning money, but the one thing I have yet to create for myself is a support team of creative cohorts that are also navigating the waters of self-employed self-sustaining creative work. Having such a team of creative people would be wonderful...

But as I mentioned at the start of this post, I have been making some wonderful connections through August Moon, so who knows? Maybe the support team of creative cohorts might be found among these kindred spirits!


JUST ONE THING
This prompt is rather challenging:

"What about your multiple selves? How could you cultivate a life that truly reflects all that you truly are? I invite you to spell out the range of things you are and would like to be"

The challenging part is not the multiple selves part - that is something I've been familiar with as I have winded my way on my path as a Creative Beast. In fact, sometimes I've felt a little like a split-personality as I enjoy both being in the company of others AND lots of time spent in solitude, but having multiple interests as channels of creativity - sewing, collage art, mixed media, book making and knitting, fashion designer and costume maker - has been a challenge as I forge my own path of self-sustaining self-employment...

Within this prompt is the musing that 'putting pressure on your dream life to earn you money can somehow rob it of all its joy' and the reflection that 'it can also result in feeling a total failure if it doesn't come to fruition in the time frame required'.

But the times when I feel most 'joy-less' are the days when I am using certain creative skills to earn money that I've long considered retiring - my sewing skills*.

If I were able to conduct teaching more workshops, or to have online workshops, where I could help others learn self mastery in creativity, and gain personal growth with creativity which I find brings great Joy to others, this would be ideal but this path has been a very slow one to take hold.

So when clothing alterations come my way for earning money I take those projects on, but alterations do not make my heart sing. When recently had to I put out a call for sewing work with a dear colleague, due to some urgent money needs, I admit it was with a heavy heart...until she presented me with a project to re-construct an existing garment by making a new pattern with a better fit. This was an interesting project and when lovely fabric entered the picture, it made the project even more joy-full to work on.

Recently, I've been in contact with a fellow participant in August Moon to take on a long-distance sewing project, something I wouldn't normally do if accurate measurements were involved to create a fitted garment. However, this project is to take a most beloved and well worn existing garment and to make a pattern from it so multiple garments can be made and worn before the original finally falls apart.

This is something I can relate to as I myself have made patterns from existing garments so I could have multiple versions, in favorite colors and patterns, without wearing out the original garment too quickly! When we women find a garment that fits in a way that is comfortable, in a color we love to wear and makes up skip and jump with joy when we wear it, then we want as many of these 'magical' garments as we can find!

And so it's begun to dawn on me that perhaps I can still utilize my sewing skills, but in a way I hadn't considered before - to help others give much loved and cherished garments a new life in a new fabric.

It is still a way to use some old skills and a way to bring Joy to people with my sewing, something I very much enjoy the prospect of!

But to cultivate a life that reflects all I truly am might start to look like this:
  • To continue making art-full books that are purchased by enthusiastic customers who enjoy unique and art-full handmade books
  • To make special, one-of-a-kind gift items that bring Joy to others
  • To find a way to conduct workshops that help people gain mastery with creative skills and gain self-esteem through personal growth and development
  • To find more ways to utilize my pattern drafting and sewing skills to help others give new life to old but much beloved garments
  • To have a handful of students to teach and to pass along my sewing knowledge to
I think there is way to embrace all these parts of myself into a fun and enjoyable creative career!


TIME AND INNER SPACE
Now here is a juicy prompt to think about:

"How will you make time work for you? How do you work and give as much as is adequate but ensure that you have enough left for you?"

THAT is a question for the ages! And it is a question we all look at on a daily basis, whether working an office job or working for yourself...

After my experience with my last full time office job, which I've touched upon in this blog post and shared more details in this blog post, I've learned that giving ALL of myself away to the goals of others does not serve me physically, financially, emotionally or spiritually.

I also know that 'all work and no play' can bring back the burnout quickly and I try to take steps to keep the burnout at bay:
  • I make sure to take a nice hour-long lunch that is usually accompanied with a fun tv show or movie watched while eating
  • I have several short breaks in my day to have a little coffee with a chocolate covered biscotti or do a little work in the garden patio sweeping, re-watering or just pottering about among the plants or I take a late afternoon 'reading nap', where I read a few pages from a book and hope that a little nap takes place
  • I might take a quick trip to my local library on my bicycle, getting a little exercise as well as a book!
As I creep closer and closer to 50, I find Time does run ever faster with each passing day, sometimes faster than I can keep up with, so I try not to bind myself to any particular 'schedule' of accomplishment or goal-achieving in regard to my creative career. This helps me to keep from 'feeling a total failure' if my creative work life 'doesn't come to fruition in the time frame required' because if I don't set a time frame, then there is Space and Time to allow nice surprises into my life, and opportunities to explore that I might not have considered if I kept to a strict schedule.

Since much of my creative life has always evolved organically, it seems to be working for me, so I'll continue my meandering ways and I'll continue maintaining a balance to enjoy my work and enjoy my life.

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Thanks again to all those visiting from August Moon! There is still time to sign up and get your prompts delivered to your inbox and you are welcome to share your musings publicly or to write on them in your journal - its your choice!

* - The reasons I've often thought of leaving my sewing skills behind are humorously pointed out in this blog post I recently discovered and point #1 relates to what I covered in my blog post here today regarding alterations and WHY they don't make my heart sing! ;)