Heroes and Mentors

“We choose our favourite author as we do our friend, from a conformity of humour and disposition. Mirth or passion, sentiment or reflection; whichever of these most predominates in our temper, it gives us a peculiar sympathy with the writer who resembles us.” 
― David Hume

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The renowned Scottish philosopher, David Hume, tells us that we choose our favourite author as we do our friend, from a conformity of humour and disposition.  Well that certainly fits for me.  My favourite authors will be of no surprise to anyone who has read my blog posts for awhile.  I consider both Anne Lamott and Julia Cameron to be, not only my favourite authors, but also mentors for me, in both writing and in life itself.

So you can imagine my absolute honour and tearful gratitude when I went to my amazon page and found this . . .

Amazon telling me that people who bought Julia Cameron’s and Anne Lamott’s books are also buying This Way Up!  This is the highest flattery I could ever receive.  I am humbled and grateful beyond measure.  It absolutely makes my heart sing!

So for those of you out there looking for the perfect gift this holiday season for a woman in your life that loves Annie Lamott and/or Julia Cameron, look no further! 

I’ll close this post with a wonderful TED talk by Annie Lamott, 12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing.

 

 

I’d love to hear about your heroes and mentors.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

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Tell your inner critic to shut up!

“Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up!”

― Ann Bradford

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Do you ever feel like your inner voice is not your best friend? Do you find that voice telling you that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong? My inner chatter is often telling me that I’m not doing ‘it’ right. It doesn’t matter what ‘it’ is – doing a task, helping someone to do something, even just trying to meditate. I used to think that I was alone in this and that I was just flawed and hopeless. Then I started working with other women in workshops and discovered that almost all of us do this one way or another. It is painful to realize how many of us believe these negative voices in our heads. I wrote about this topic recently on Thrive Global.

Most of us received plenty of negative messages growing up, and usually those messages are blindly accepted and believed. These negative messages from our inner critic create new neural pathways which become embedded in our brains. This becomes negative inner chatter creating limiting beliefs which adversely impacts us in many ways.

A neural pathway is the way that information travels through the neurons, or nerve cells of the brain. We create new neural pathways every time we hear or experience something new. The more we experience something, the more embedded this pathway becomes, and unfortunately, a lot of us have some very negative messages firmly rooted in our brains.

Once those neural pathways are deeply embedded, changing them is not an easy task.

Is there a way to overcome the negative stories that we once heard and now continue to tell ourselves? Is there a way to shift those pathways so that they are less destructive? Yes! There is a practice which you can start using right now, which will bring about changes in the neural pathways that keep you stuck. Using Creative Positive Reframing, you can take limiting beliefs and creatively transform them so they become supportive rather than destructive. You can reframe and create a new perspective on how you think by using these seven tools:

Pay attention — Pay attention to your thought process.

Action: A good way to pay attention to your thought process is to pay attention to how your body feels. You can tell if the thoughts are self-defeating and destructive if they negatively impact your body; for example, a knot in your stomach or a lump in your throat, clenched jaw or tight shoulders.

Practice: Scan your body to check in, notice any tight spots or knots. Observe/pay attention to the thoughts that you are focusing on when you feel tight; think about why you want to change those thoughts; what is the negative impact on your life?

Get the negative out — Write out the negative.

Action: Nature abhors a vacuum. When you cannot get out of a negative thought spiral — write it out. Get rid of the negative to make room for the positive.

Practice: Get negative thoughts out of your head by emptying it out on paper. Think of it as an emotional enema! Write about all the negativity spiralling in your head. Allow a stream of consciousness to flow and let it all come out. And then tear the paper up.

Replace the negative with positive — Use positive statements and questions to replace the negative

Action: Negative self-talk can be replaced by positivity with the help of a series of deliberate affirmations and questions. This creates new neural pathways and frees you from the negative spiral. However, sometimes when we use affirmations that do not feel real, our brain does not believe it, and this can embed the negative even more deeply. For example, if you are struggling to pay the rent and you say to yourself: ‘I am wealthy and have plenty of money for all of my needs’, perhaps your thoughts will rebel with: ‘Well, that’s not true’ — and then will go on to prove how wrong you are, throwing you further down the negative spiral.

Practice: Creative positive statements wherever possible; and try creating questions as well. Research shows that the use of questions instead of statements works effectively. Questions work with the brain’s natural inquisitive nature; pose a question and your brain will work to find an answer, creating more positive neural pathways automatically. So if when you say “I am wealthy” and your brain rebels; try asking for its help by saying something like “Money is coming to me easily and effortlessly. What do I need to do to increase my cash flow?”

Think about the ideal and be clear why you want it — Create an ideal scenario and know why it is important to you.

Action: In order to create new neural pathways and escape the negative spiral, it’s important to have a replacement to start thinking about. For example, if you are stuck in fear about money, and in a negative loop, start thinking about the flip side and create a picture of the ideal.

Practice: Describe your ideal financial situation, be as specific as possible. Have fun with this: let your imagination be your guide. You don’t need to write this out, just tell yourself the story. Picture yourself living with plenty of money. See yourself living the life of your dreams; actually feel how good it feels. And then focus on the why; why is it important? For example, allow yourself really examine why having more money would make a difference in your life. What is the deepest reason you want this to manifest? Keep going deeper and deeper into why you want to achieve this until you feel like you have hit the heart of it. You will know it when you have hit it, there will be an emotional charge linked to it. Allow yourself to feel the depth of that emotion.

Creative visualization — Picture the ideal and embed it in your brain

Action: Creative Visualization is a technique which uses your own power of ‘seeing’ or visualizing something to attain that which you most want, or want to change. It involves using the mind to see that which you want to achieve; or using the mind to change the negative into positive. You already use this technique every day. Unfortunately, we often use it in the negative. The key to visualization is to create a mindset that you already have that which you are trying to attain, and to believe that you deserve the positive result.

Practice: Relax and take time to do this. Close your eyes and let the movie of you having your heart’s desire run in your mind. Enjoy the process. The more you do this, the more deeply embedded this vision becomes.

Stay positive in the process — Keep a positive attitude as you practice

Action: The field of Positive Psychology points out many benefits of staying positive and being happy. Happiness brings social rewards, helps people recover faster from illness, and have more resilience. Happy people feel like they are in control and are empowered and therefore usually feel more confidence, optimism, and a sense of well-being. These are all good reasons to try to remain in a positive mindset, but one of the main obstacles to positivity is that our brains are wired to look for and focus on threats. This mechanism was helpful back when we were hunters and gatherers, but now this mindset breeds pessimism and negativity because the mind tends to wander until it finds a threat. But there are many methods to overcome the brain’s negative bias.

Practice: The most straightforward method is to focus on love and compassion, forgiveness and gratitude. These positive mind-sets shift your focus from the negative to the positive. Even simply thinking about someone you love or something you are grateful for, can help you shift from a negative mindset to a positive one.

Be creative — Creativity helps us shift from the negative to the positive

Action: While you are focusing on shifting limiting beliefs into more positive and supportive beliefs, it is helpful to be creative in the process. An expression of creativity, in any form, can be helpful in shifting our mood and removing us from a negative spiral. Not only that, but repressed creativity can have the opposite effect, and can ultimately express itself in unhealthy ways, such as bad relationships, stress, neurotic or addictive behaviors. Perhaps the most common manifestation of repressed creativity in women is depression, which, of course, only increases the negative downward spiral.

Practice: There are so many ways we can get creative, and they all involve play: start journaling and play with words; get some oil pastels and play with color; go outside, garden, and play in the dirt; learn an instrument, dance, and play with music; cook and play with spices. There is no right or wrong way to be creative. The only important thing is to allow ourselves to connect with our own creativity.

The next time you find yourself falling into a negative spiral, use these seven tools to tackle those limiting beliefs, and transform them so that they are supportive rather than destructive.

I want to close with a wonderful video clip with Lisa Nichols and Marci Shimoff, appropriately entitled: ‘How to Stop Negative Self Talk.’

 

I’d love to hear about how you get your inner critic to shut up.  We all need as much help as possible with that negative committee! And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Start now, start where you are . . . and don’t stop.

“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are and with what you have. Just…start.”

― Ljeoma Umebinyuo

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I’ve had several emails from people who are just starting to write their book and asking advice, any advice, on how to go about getting their book written and out there.  And to me, there is no better advice than that of Umebinyuo:

“Start where you are and don’t stop. Just start”

I love that quote: Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start.

And it doesn’t just apply to creativity either, although it is certainly apt.  I am thinking about this quote in terms of recovery. That quote fits so well for so many of us who made the decision to stop an addictive practice – whatever that practice is. Start stopping! Stop drinking or using or gambling or shopping or whatever that practice is . . . Start stopping now!

“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are and with what you have. Just…start.”

Just Start Stopping . . .  and Don’t Stop Stopping!   When I started writing my book, my main audience was not necessarily women in recovery, but it certainly fits! I was honored this week when Sally M., an addictions counselor who read my book recently and wrote this review:

“This Way Up is the perfect accompaniment for any recovery work being done.  It will add depth and enrich your recovery.”
(Psst – by the way, This Way Up  e-book is on sale this week for only .99 cents!)
And a woman I know who has been sober for over 20 years, said something similar.
 She told me that she has found my course on Daily Om, 8 Weeks to Your Best Self, to be helpful in her recovery, and she has been recommending it for women that she sponsors. She said it’s perfect because a lot of women she sponsors don’t have a lot of money, and with this course, you choose what you pay.

 

So although I never started either of these projects with that outcome in mind, it is a gift beyond measure – to be of service in someone’s recovery!

This quote also fits well with the following wonderful TED Talk. In this talk, Julie Burstein describes 4 Lessons in Creativity.  She talks about 4 aspects to embrace  in order for our own creativity to flourish.

The First Aspect:  Embrace Experience!  Pay Attention to the world around us. Be open to that thing that might change you.

The Second Aspect:  Embrace the Challenges!  Our most powerful work comes out of life that is most difficult.

The Third Aspect:  Embrace the Limitations!

And finally: Embrace Loss!  Burstein describes this as the oldest and most constant of human experiences.  “In order to create, we have to stand in that space between what we see in the world and what we hope for. Looking squarely at rejections and heartbreak, at war, at death.”

She closes with this important statement:
“We all wrestle with experience and challenge, limits and loss. Creativity is essential to all of us, whether we’re scientists or teachers, parents or entrepreneurs.”
And I would add that once you’ve made the decision to embrace these aspects, then just start! Start right now. Start right where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling, but start. Just Start and don’t stop!

I’d love to hear about your experience just starting . . .  whether it’s with creativity or recovery. How you start and how you don’t stop. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.
 

 

 

Curiosity + Courage + Creativity = An Unbeatable Formula

“Everybody has a creative potential and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.”
— Paulo Coelho

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I think about that quote a lot lately, almost every time I watch the news in fact! ‘From the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.’  Watching the news and keeping up with current events, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. But it’s important to remember, we all have the creative potential to start changing the world.

But why are so many people so afraid of the idea of creativity? Perhaps it’s the idea that to be creative is to relinquish control.

Matisse famously says: Creativity takes courage.

And Joseph Chilton Pearce adds: To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.

Picasso adds to that: The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.

To allow oneself to put aside that part of us that is in control, that is logical and rational is a scary thought. For those of us who have worked so hard to keep everything ordered and in control, the thought of relinquishing this control is scary. But I love the image created by Lady Gaga about letting go to access one’s creative spark:

When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condom-less sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about at the time.

A lot of research is also pointing to curiosity being an important key to unlocking creativity:

creativity-curiosity

In order to spark new levels creativity as adults, we need to get back in touch with our childlike curiosity. We need to observe, explore, ask questions, and again venture into the unknown — Andrew Merle explains in a recent article in Huffington Post: Why Curiosity is the Key to Break Through Creativity.

Along with fear of losing control, a great many people believe that they aren’t creative, that they ‘don’t have a creative bone in their body.’ The sad truth is that many of us have been shamed out of even trying to access our creative spark. Some of us have even been taught out of our creativity. Sir Ken Robinson explains this beautifully in his popular TED Talk: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

The reality though is that we are ALL born creative, we all have that creative potential. Yes, some of us are more artistic than others or more talented in certain areas. But all of us are creative.

Creativity is not found just in the chosen few who exhibit artistic talent. It is a force that flows through every single one of us, allowing us to dream things up and make them happen.

–Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy

In a wonderful article on Greater Good Website, Ten Things Creative People Know, Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy explain that:

Creative expression opens the door to the inner world of our imaginations. It is here that we make meaning of our lives. It is here that motivation takes root. The more creative we are, the more capacity we have to imagine what’s possible and make those visions real.

So although it’s a conundrum, creativity sparks creativity!

So the next time you look around and feel as though it’s time to start changing the world, remember:

Curiosity + Courage + Creativity = an unbeatable formula

I think I’ll close with Sir Ken Robinson’s latest TED Talk, he is always a good choice to illustrate the 3 Cs!  Bring on The Revolution:

I’d love to hear how you spark your creativity.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

How To Avoid Feeling Homesick For The Self

“Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.”
 Edward de Bono

I’m so happy to feature a guest blogger this month. Carol Walsh is a fellow author at She Writes Press and a friend.  Carol’s book, Painting Life: My Creative Journey Through Trauma will be available at the end of this month.

Carol is a talented artist and writer who also happens to be a wonderful therapist.  Do check out her website to find out more about her.

How To Avoid Feeling Homesick For The Self

If I have not been able to be creative, I feel homesick for my Self. I actually feel a physical sense of longing way down deep in the core of my gut. I feel lost. It’s also a feeling that’s reminiscent of my childhood.

When I was a young girl, I couldn’t go away for the night, or I would become homesick. This was a bit inhibiting; but I was sure that if I left home for too long I would be forgotten. I had to go back home to reclaim my space within the family.

As an adult, feelings of homesickness emerge when I forget myself – that is, forget who I am and what I’m about. When I forget me, I need to touch base with my soul, my spirit, so I can reconnect with my Self.

In this crazy, busy time, many of us forget to touch base with our core Self. We forget about our needs, priorities and values. When we aren’t in touch with ourselves, we can’t make effective choices, because there is no Us to turn to for information.

When we are connected to our core, we can make conscious choices. This is so important because all choices need to reflect who we are — our meaning and purpose in life.

Creativity is a terrific way to access our core Self. As we mature, we have different needs and awareness’s and therefore we need to make different choices. Creativity helps us keep in touch with those changes.

I love this quote from Sophia Loren: “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

In general, it is best to pick one creative outlet that you can routinely engage in, to help you touch base with your inner Self. That will be one of healthiest habits you could add to your schedule – even if it is for one half hour, once a week.

 Try one of these exercises while asking yourself the question, What is my mission and purpose in this life?

Exercise no.1. Get a journal (with no lines), or a blank piece of paper and then, with your non-dominant hand, write two sentences, one that begins with: “I am a —.” Then write a second sentence that begin with: “My purpose in life is —-.“

Exercise no. 2. Cut out a number of photos, from several magazines, that speak to you. Then arrange these in a pleasing way and glue them to a large piece of cardboard. While looking at the collage, ask yourself: “What does this say about who I am, and what my life mission is?”

Exercise no. 3. On a blank sheet of paper and in a vertical column write the words like this:

6 months,

year 1,

year 3,

year 5

year 10.

Then, beside each time frame write two things you would like to manifest during that time. On a new page, begin with the items in the six months category, and note the first three action steps you need to take to achieve each of these.

 

Thank you Carol! And now I’d like to close with another She Writes Press fellow author, and one of the founders of SWP, Brooke Warner. If you are thinking about writing your own memoir, Brooke’s book, Green Light Your Book is a must!  Here’s a video about it:

 

 

I’d love to hear about how you stay connected to your creativity and thus to your self. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

The End of the US Book Tour

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
― Alexander Graham Bell

As I get read to leave the US and head back to NZ, I am am filled with so many emotions.  Humbled at how incredibly powerful the whole trip was and how much love was shared with me.  So very grateful that I had this amazing opportunity. Sad to say good-bye to family and friends here in the US. But so very happy and excited to see my sons and my friends back in NZ.  So many emotions all at once.

I decided to make a video about this, rather than write about it this time. Feeling inspired!

 

 

I’d love to hear how you handle it as one door closes, often waiting for the next one to open. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Saving Your Life

“Letting go helps us to to live in a more peaceful state of mind and helps restore our balance. It allows others to be responsible for themselves and for us to take our hands off situations that do not belong to us. This frees us from unnecessary stress.”
― Melody Beattie

Melody Beattie has been such an important role model for me and countless others that deal with addiction and co-dependence.

She has a great page on Facebook with daily meditations. Today’s meditation struck me because I’m an avid journaller, I talk about that a lot here and in my book, This Way Up. In Beattie’s post, she talks about ‘Saving Your Life’ through journalling, such a great double entendre.  I know that journalling has saved my life, or at least my sanity, on more than one occasion.  Not to mention, I am saving my life, though words, a snapshop of my experience daily.

Beattie discusses why journalling is important to her:

Are you saving your life by writing about it in a journal?

Sometimes I use a file in my computer for my journal. If I’m rambling, ranting, or raving—writing something that could embarrass me if seen—I lock the file with a code. My words in my journal, whether it’s in a computer or a green Italian notebook, are meant only for me.

There are many ways to write in a journal. We can go on and on about whatever comes to us. That’s helpful, especially if we’re stuck. We can use our journal as a record, writing down what we did that day. It’s a good place to write our goals and to explore our fantasies and dreams.

We can write poems or short stories. We can write letters to God or our Guardian Angel, asking for advice. Or we can just say what happened each day, and then write how it feels.

People may think there’s a right and wrong way to write in a journal, but I don’t agree. There aren’t any rules about journals. It’s just a way to record and save our lives.

Do you think your life is worth saving? I do. If you’ve been neglecting to do that, ask yourself “why?”

God, help me be aware of and respect the details of my life.

Activity: Transfer your goal list to a journal, and begin writing your responses to the meditations and the activities as part of your journal entry for each day. Use your journal as a logbook, to record what you’re doing and whom you’re doing it with as you pursue your dreams. Or use it as a way of exploring how you feel, who you are, and what you want to do. Save your life in whatever way makes sense to you.

Such a great reminder to me, and I hope to you too, to journal today and everyday if possible.

I want to close with a video of Beattie discussing Addiction and Codependency.  I love her messages, they really hit home.  This vid is part 1 of 3; if you find it useful or interesting, I hope you take the time to watch all 3. Such valuable information on the subject.

 

 

I’d love to hear about why you journal and how it helps you; and would love your thoughts of the video. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

Using Creativity to Externalize the Internal Process

“The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”
― Pablo Picasso

My dear friend and business partner, Deb Brock, is such a creative being.  I love being around her when she is in Flow.  in the zone, just creating. Being able to get into that place, that zone, I think is key to connecting to that deepest sense of self. And when we connect to that deepest sense of self, that is where we find our answers.

Join Deb and I as we talk about Creativity and Externalizing the Internal Process.

 

 

 

I’d love to hear about your process, how do you get into flow, into the zone?  And as always, thanks for stopping by, I appreciat it!

It’s here at last – Publication Day!

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
– Anne Lamott

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope …

My book is published today, April 26th 2016!  My book, This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life, my very own book!  This Way Up took ten years to write, 10 years.  There were plenty of times when I was in the dark and all I had left of this dream of publication was stubborn hope.  It was not an easy journey.  I began the book because my son Lukas, at age 12 challenged me to.  I felt backed into a corner, I knew I had to put my money where my mouth was or I would feel like everything I had been saying to my sons for years was a lie.  So I started writing.

I started writing and deleting; and feeling not good enough to write a book and feeling like a fraud.  When I finally finished my first draft about 5 years later, I started looking for an agent.  Oh my God – talk about sitting in the dark with nothing but hope! I had months and months of rejection letters, too many to count, the darkness got darker, the hope fainter.

Then finally I found an agent in London, I signed a contract and I was over the moon!  Now, I thought, now the hard work is over, I have someone else to do my work and get my book out there. It took over a year, lots of frustration and more darkness, but finally my agent was able to land a publication deal with a small publisher in London.  I was thrilled. I celebrated and believed the time had come.

About a year later, after jumping through hoops, working with an editor and inching closer, my agent decided he didn’t want to be an agent anymore, that the publishing landscape had changed too much and was not working for him anymore, so I lost my agent and lost the deal with the publishing company that he had handled.  I was back to square one, and decided I couldn’t do it anymore.

Then about two weeks later I heard a small, still voice in my head while I was meditating; the voice instructed me to ask an old college friend who lived in LA for help.  I wasn’t that close to her, and had not been in close contact with her for years.  But we were friends on Facebook, and I have learned to trust that small voice, it rarely leads me astray.  So I messaged her and she messaged back the next day.  She recommended She Writes Press.  I had never heard of them, but when I read about them, my pulse quickened.  They sounded perfect –  the website describes SWP as: A publisher of books – for, by and about women!  I contacted Brooke Warner, one of the founders of SWP, and we scheduled a Skype.  She said my book sounded like a good fit for SWP.  I signed a contract and I started working with the amazing women at She Writes.

I still had a steep climb though, luckily the climb was accompanied by some truly magnificent women:  Brooke Warner, a power house and visionary; Annie Tucker, editor extraordinaire; and a host of truly talented authors.  The fellowship of authors at SWP is fantastic, they are generous of spirit, freely give advice and tips and we cheer each other on every step of the way.  I am grateful beyond measure that I ended up with such a wonderful publishing house.

And now, today April 26, 2016, my book is here.  It is truly a labor of love; and an extreme act of faith that kept me going.  I believed that if I just kept showing up and kept moving in the direction of my dream that the dawn would come. And it did. So I am here to tell all of you – Don’t give up!  Keep moving in the direction of your dreams, whatever they are.

I’d like to close with a video that is very close to my heart. My very first video that I’ve ever uploaded on to You Tube.  It continues to be a steep learning curve!

 

I’d love to hear about your dreams and what helps you to keep moving forward.  And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.