Tag Archives: creativity

Go from "This, No" to "Yes, That!"

Positive Thinking Reverse-Psychology for Times of Transition

Go from "This, No" to "Yes, That!"If you are in the middle of contemplating a life transition, you may be finding it difficult to find your way in the midst of confusing thoughts and feelings. By exploring the “no” feelings in your life, you can see what important things are out of sync… And then look at what feels like a “yes”, to recognize what is working and build on it.

If there are more things shouting “no” than there are things affirming, “yes,” then it’s time to daydream a little about what would make you feel more “yes” in your life, and give yourself permission to make a little more room for things that make your cells sing.

Positive thinking can improve life, but until we acknowledge what isn’t working, we can’t easily identify what will work given the right attention. Our positive intentions must be backed by a real awareness of what we are truly getting out of our current manifestation. By knowing what you don’t want, you can then shift your attention toward what you do want.

I have found that looking at life from the following perspectives has helped myself and others to identify what is and isn’t working. After answering the following questions, you can re-frame your vision toward positive life changes and the sort of powerful focus that creates exciting manifestation. Looking at the well-being of your body, finances, self-esteem, and creative expression will help identify what is and isn’t in alignment for you and will empower you to make more affirmative choices in your time of transition.

Where is “no” popping up in your life?

What is your body telling you?

  • I generally don’t “feel good” doing what I am doing.
  • My body suffers under the current paradigm: it makes me physically ill, or degrades my quality of life through a physical manifestation of pain and/or stress.
  • I feel like it takes all of my energy to be positive and focus on the good around me.
  • My energy is depleted from segmenting myself off into the specialized needs that are asked of me each day, yet do not fulfill me.
  • I have greater cravings for things that sate and soothe my body, like sweets, comfort foods, alcohol, or drugs.

What do your finances say?

  • My finances are showing a similar state of debt to my physical and emotional well-being.
  • I feel enslaved by my circumstances due to a need to improve my financial security, yet I don’t seem able to make any progress however much I try.
  • I am able to easily see the things that block my financial growth, but find it difficult to see opportunities, or to find the time or energy to explore new ideas that would help me move forward.

How do you feel about yourself?

  • There is not enough room in my current paradigm to fully be myself.
  • I do not feel valued.
  • I feel threatened or unsafe in expressing myself fully.
  • I don’t feel like I can put the appropriate percentage of my focus on things that matter to me personally or creatively.

What is your creative world experiencing?

  • I don’t feel like my ideas matter.
  • I can’t express myself creatively without feeling as if others are angry with me for taking my energy away from them.
  • There is no time for me to be creative.
  • I am afraid to take risks, because I might “get in trouble” for failing.

The “yes” feelings pave the road to positive thinking and positive changes…

The body’s way of communicating its support:

  • I feel good when I am creating things that showcase my unique talents.
  • I like getting rest, eating well, and having enough time to follow a schedule that makes sense to my body and its needs.
  • When I focus on things that make me feel good, I find that the positive emotions that result create more energy for me to focus on things that matter to me.
  • I am living in a fully-embodied way that makes use of all my strengths and allows me to step into the right environments where I feel safe and supported in my talents.
  • I have stronger cravings for things that make my body feel nourished and only eat until full. I find it easy to enjoy special treats in moderation.

How do finances look from a yes state of being?

  • My finances feel like they are in a state of healthy flow and continue to grow from a strong foundation of physical and emotional well-being.
  • My pursuit of financial success supports my goals and is another factor spurring my creativity in many areas of my life.
  • I am able to see financial opportunities and I find it easy to collaborate with others who can help me stay on track with my financial aims.

What is it like to live from an aligned sense of self?

  • My current life situation is an avenue through which I am able to fully explore who I am.
  • I support myself, and this gives others permission to be true to themselves. I also have more energy to give more direct assistance to those who can benefit from my help.
  • I see my value, and attract people into my life who also recognize my value.
  • I feel safe expressing myself because I know my own worth and surround myself by people who appreciate what I have to say.
  • Through the ups and downs of life, I ultimately feel as if I have sovereignty over my affairs and can mostly direct where I put my energy.

Is your creative self shouting “yes”?

  • My ideas are important, and I feel enthusiasm in exploring them.
  • I choose relationships and environments in which I am encouraged to nourish myself creatively.
  • I express myself because I know the world needs what I can give, and in taking time for myself, I am giving the gift of my talents back to the world.
  • I feel ready to take risks, because the thrill of what I will discover on the journey is greater than the fear of what I will lose or the mistakes I might make. I recognize that each great creation thrives on “mistakes” for its successful evolution.

Overall, is your current manifestation giving you a “no” feeling, or a “yes” feeling?

What things can you do that would help you feel your “yes”? When you contemplate the “yes” feelings you are wishing to draw into your life, what sorts of things do you envision yourself manifesting to create these feelings?

Is it time to make a transition? Do you need to change, but don’t feel ready to make a transition? If not, what do you need to feel ready?

Take one step toward it, today. While you pave the road, put your positive thinking to work today by letting your cells feel the “yes” of where you want to go. Maybe it’s just a daydream for now, but that’s how every good thing starts. Feel good imagining your brave new world now, so you can train your whole being to see opportunities that will take you where you really want to be, and you will have the energy of “yes” to draw upon while you take little steps toward your vision. (And remember, permission to move toward your dream can only come from you… There is no sacred “yes” that is more important than your own.)

The real secret to powerful manifestation isn’t just about being in a positive frame of mind, you must also feel empowered to act on your visions. I find that most of the blockages I experience are caused by making the task seem too daunting to achieve, but if I break my efforts down into smaller pieces that I can attain easily from a relaxed state of mind, I begin to flow more quickly into the worlds I am trying to create through my focused attention.

Action is a necessary ingredient to manifestation because we are embodied beings in a world that is very much alive and in motion. However, we can choose to act mindfully in the face of transition, and let our emotions guide us toward activities that fill us up instead of depleting us. Ultimately, if we are moving toward positive sensations from a belief in the positive, we can’t go far awry. Yet it is essential to acknowledge the messages our body sends us in the form of negative feelings, because hiding from them robs them of their power to transform our lives.

Don’t forget to take your body along for the ride… It possesses tremendous wisdom and is your most powerful collaborator. It will reward your positive thinking with good feelings, and these good feelings can also help to remind you when you are on the right track. If you are having trouble separating out what feels like a “no” or a “yes” in your life, then rely on your body to tell you. You might have to get really quiet to hear what it has to say, but if you give it time, it will communicate with you and help bring clarity to your decision-making.

What has been a big “no” in your life of late, and what “yes” are you moving toward?


The Bolt of Inspiration

Herein’ I begin a new tradition, whereby I draw a card from my beloved Tarot and express thoughts around the concepts the card has inspired. I hope you enjoy!

Rider Waite Page of Cups CardInterestingly enough, the card I pulled this morning was the Page of Cups, which actually represents surprise inspiration (the boy in the image is often depicted as listening to the whispered words of a fish jumping suddenly from his cup). Very fitting, since the idea to begin these posts hit me out of the blue, which is a characteristic condition this card describes. And being a Pisces, I also identify strongly with the fish. (Us fish are very inspired people.)

When I think of inspiration, I feel there are a number of ways one can go about seeking it.

There’s the direct approach, where you cultivate a number of ideas through the sheer will of your imagination. This is the form of inspiration that is most often asked of us in our work, especially with people who work in creative industries.

Evolution is another key element in inspiration… Gathering ideas from the outside world, starting with a nugget of an idea, and letting it evolve as information and notions are collected. For instance, the use of a mood board may have some basic ideas to guide its creation at the start, but as it evolves organically it may generate new ideas that take over or guide the concept into different directions. Whether using brainstorms, thumbnailing, mood boards or other methods of idea generation, it often takes time and revisiting an idea on a regular basis to see it mature into something truly unique.

And then there is one level of inspiration that goes beyond the will of the imagination or the evolution of a concept… It’s the inspiration that “strikes as lightning from above.” Sometimes it seems to come out of continually working and thinking on a project, but just as often it can be the unexpected idea that often catches you when you don’t have a pen — or as is often the case with me… driving the car. (My theory is that ideas put down their defenses simply because I’m not prepared to capture them. Or maybe it’s really that, when I’m looking at them directly, I’m actually too stiff to catch them.)

You can mindfully make space for this kind of creative revelation through regular meditation or any sort of allowance for a quiet, reflective time. This is especially the kind of creative act that seems to be in direct opposition to our Western ideas of creativity. It is generally believed that if we aren’t obviously at work on something, it isn’t really work. We convince ourselves that sitting down and meditating awhile is avoidance, when it can actually be the most powerful tool in our arsenal. (It doesn’t mean we won’t have to craft the idea into something brilliant, but if we have something truly deep to start with, our chances of finding success and enjoyment will be much higher.)

What is often missing in our pursuit of creative ideas in Western culture is the process of unfolding and allowing for the quiet time that truly encourages inventiveness. I would even argue that working less on something in the early stages and taking regular breaks to invite inspiration in can make the work stronger for the mere fact that the result will be more soulful and truly inspired.

The Page of Cups specifically represents the kind of inspiration that seems to come from outside of ourselves. It can be like the Genius that Elizabeth Gilbert describes in her Ted Talk, or it can be given structured time to appear as David Lynch does through his daily use of Transcendental Meditation. It can also come through synchronicity, in the form of an inspired suggestion from a friend. Maybe, like the Tarot card, it seems fishy at first, and upon deeper reflection is revealed for the stroke of genius it truly is.

It seems obvious that in most cases our creativity needs some direction and application of effort to be fruitful, but I feel that leaving room for the strike of lightning to appear is an essential part of our practice, and necessary to find real — and deeper — inspiration. At the very least it requires the eternal presence of a pen and paper; at best the time to let an idea unfold in stages; and at most it involves a routine, quiet time in which to unravel ourselves awhile and enter our subconscious world without expectation.

I think we lose the highest joys inherent in creative discovery when we don’t give at least some space in our creative practice for insight to strike. For me, that “Eureka!” is one of the most exciting things about being a creative being, and one of my favorite moments in the act of creation. I especially love when the inspiration hits as a big surprise, when it feels like a gift from the blue. Personally, I believe it is, and it is always out there, waiting for us to softly listen.

Elizebeth Gilbert on “Having a Genius” vs. “Being a Genius”


David Lynch on Trascendental Meditation

When Comparison Kills Creativity

Lately I’ve been comparing myself to my heroes, and I’m realizing how destructive it can be. How do you regain your passion for your work when you are feeling oppressed by feelings of inadequacy?

I have a deep, dark secret. I compare my work to other people’s work, all of the time. What’s worse, I compare myself to people who have a lifetime of solid, focused experience. On good days, I catch myself, remind myself how well I am doing for where I am and how far I have come. On bad days… oh those very bad days… I am no good and will never “make it”… wherever it is I am trying to “make it” to.

I have a theory, that I am not the only one who does this, and that it is one of the major reasons why creative people often never get anywhere with their work. This habit of comparison is so deeply ingrained in us that it can sometimes cut us off at the knees without ever emerging into our primary consciousness as a problem.

It’s been hitting me hard this week. I have really been enjoying creating of late, and I’m very well pleased with the personal progress I’m making. I see huge leaps in every new drawing, every new painting. If I sit with the process and how precious that is, I can feel very good about where I am.

When I think about where I personally want to be… making a graphic novel that people enjoy… well, there goes everything below the knees. I don’t know where to start, and what I have done lines up so little with what I personally enjoy. (Making stuff that is true to you but not exactly what you like is another topic entirely… I think there are many artists and writers out there who don’t necessarily make the sorts of things that they personally have a taste for. But that’s a post for another day.)

For me, I know that comparison is the problem. I am reading the best graphic novels out there, familiarizing myself with new and old works that I hope will help me find my way forward. It’s like I’m trying to paint ballerinas with a kid’s watercolor set and comparing myself to Degas.

But I know the truth. There is plenty of room in the vast wealth of experience for me to exist at whatever place I live in my skill-set. And I know that I am further along than I realize, especially further when I am in a dark mood about where my current abilities live within the spectrum.

Perspective is a very valuable tool to have as creative person. If you went to school for a creative career you may think that critical points of view are the only valid perspective. But true perspective includes much more than the critical hue, and thinking that criticism is the path to perspective alone will make it very difficult to maintain passion for your work. Real perspective takes into account personal experience, joy, business, life dynamics, and a million other sundry concerns. To have perspective is to realize that the world is full of things that we’d consider good and bad, and there is someone succeeding in every camp, no matter what our opinions on the matter are. To have perspective is to know that we fit in that vast tapestry just as we are, no better no worse, and that the only thing we need to offer is our commitment and enjoyment, and trust that we are already a thread in the greater whole. Sure, we’ll get better. We’ll keep growing. It’s inevitable, especially if we are open to it. But our success does not always depend on how good we perceive ourselves to be. There is someone out there who wants what we can offer, right at this moment. The more we realize this, the more we will see the opportunities that have always existed, waiting just for us.

We are whatever we give our attention to. And the more attention we give to it, the more we become it. Endlessly.

And so I know if I compare myself from a standpoint of anything other than to discover what is unique in me, then I will only find myself emphasizing wrongs that don’t exist in reality. (As best said in Hamlet… “There is nothing either good or bad, only thinking makes it so.”)

How can I fit the world with any other shape than the one I hold? I cannot change my form in this moment anymore than I can bend iron. But I can give my attention to my creations and watch myself expand in line with my creating. I can fall in love with the process of becoming, because I will always be becoming. Always.

Learning from others is one thing. We momentarily compare then abandon the comparison for the knowledge we enjoy as a result of that comparison. But judgment just takes the wind out of our sails, or someone else’s sails.

On the bad days, when my critic mind takes over, I try to take a deep breath and look for something to appreciate… and then I get back to work.

Having Fun is the Secret to Mastery

A special drawing class is teaching me more than just what I am capable of as an artist… It is also teaching me the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Good-bye Perfectionism. Hello Fun.

I’ve been really busy lately, and I’m having a blast. In the effort to figure out exactly what I want to do with Mephisto I have taken a less direct approach and turned my attention to my painting and drawing skills. When you’ve been creating awhile you start to see the signs of a sticky quagmire in the works… That sinking feeling that you aren’t sure what to do next, which leads to doing nothing at all. So I decided to focus on one of my most apparent concerns. My drawing and painting skills.

I haven’t been much of an avid drawer in a long time. It all harkens back to my mother, though it’s not her fault, really. She was a perfectionist and she passed the curse on to me, but I am responsible for giving it regular water and fertile soil. I’ve drawn enough off and on–thanks to moments of intense yearning or the prodding of my art teachers–that when I really catch a fire I can do some awesome stuff. But I’m done with having to burn through the heavy weight of each insecure fresh start. I’m ready to find the fun again. It’s the only thing that will sustain me.

I signed up for a local teacher’s class, Phil Sylvester from The Drawing Studio. I took his class once before on the inspiration of a close friend. She told me I’d love his teaching style, and she was right. His way was practically the reverse of everything I had been taught in school. He was all about deconstructing the inner editor and flowing into the work through the fun instead of what was deemed “right” or “wrong”. He emphasized regular creative expression and engaged interest as a means of mastering technique, instead of insisting upon proportion and intense study as a first course before one can be a true artist. He imagines you have a certain number of crappy drawings to get through in a lifetime, so you might as well start each one with vigor and relish the road of getting through them sooner rather than later. Following the fun, he argues, is the only way to sustain interest in any endeavor long enough to master it.

Right now my husband and a fellow student from back in college (not to mention a dear friend) are taking Phil’s beginner class with me, which I am taking again, because I love that open feeling I get when one I am allowed to be a beginner and see the endless possibilities before me. I love watching what people produce in that environment where they are no longer limited by some ridiculous construct of what they can or should be capable of. They learn to come in through the fun, the heart of why we create. And it’s pretty freaking amazing what comes out when you let your guard down.

Goodbye images of tortured artists languishing in dark rooms with only a cup of black coffee and a seething inner critic to keep them company. Hello self-expression, liveliness, and exploration. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out… You can learn to have fun at any moment, no matter where you are in your journey. Start with the smallest little flutter of possibility and joy. It will lead the way to joyful creation.

Seven Reasons Not to Create

There are lots of reasons why you shouldn’t create something, but only one good reason why you should. What are your reasons? What is your answer to the ultimate question regarding your creation?

I know a lot of artists and writers who struggle with motivation, allowing all their fears to hold them back from starting on something they are passionate to create. I’ve been one of them. The biggest problem I see for people is that they allow their inner critic to run the show. They editorialize before they even have something concrete for the inner editor to respond to.

There are lots of reasons people generally have for not making something. These are the top seven I usually hear.

  • It’s been done.
  • I don’t know how to start.
  • The project is too big for me.
  • There’s no market for it.
  • I can’t make a living at it.
  • I might not succeed.
  • I might realize I don’t like it.

My counterarguments:

  • Everything may have been done, but no one has done it like you would do it.
  • Something may be a huge project, but the only step that you should focus on is the next step.
  • There’s never a market for anything until someone makes it.
  • You can always make a living at something while you are doing what you love.
  • Not trying at all is a perfect way not to succeed. Besides, success is relative. Most “successful” people have “failed” more than they have “succeeded”.
  • You are completely, 100% free to change your mind about anything. And if you go into something without commitment fears, you are much more likely to see all of the things you love about it (or be able to be honest with yourself about what isn’t working).

Ultimately, there is only one thing you need to ask yourself when you are considering making something.

Do you really care about it? Do you really want to do it? Does it satisfy a yearning in your soul to pursue it?

That’s it. If the answer is yes, get started, do the first thing, and then the second thing, and then the third. You will probably realize as you do it that you have a new way to do it, that starting is actually quite simple, that it isn’t as big as you thought, that you just hadn’t met your market, and you have all the money you need for where you are at right now with your creation. If you are having fun, your parameters for success will be much different, and you will be well set up to succeed admirably.

You don’t need any justification, clarification, or explanation other than, “Yes, I want to do this.” That’s it. You have absolute freedom of choice in your own life, and all that the world needs from you is to be true to yourself.

Start with the premise that life is your ally, and that your only job is to show up and be yourself. Get out of your own way and you’ll be amazed what comes out of you, and what shows up to come to your aid. For goodness sake, have fun!