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Your Creative Intentions: Monday Post ~ July 30, 2012

“Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.” ~Seth Godin



This is the moment to deepen, or commit to, your regular creativity practice. Regularity — a daily practice, if at all possible — is one of the best ways to stay in touch with how you make meaning.

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about.

Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.

Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community is a great way to leverage the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!

:::::::

If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$5.99. Available for download here.

Pages of Wisdom: Suzi Banks Baum

Suzi Banks Baum, writer and artist, is one of 13 contributors whose wisdom appears in the e-book The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years. If you’re not already reading Suzi’s blog, Laundry Line Divine, add it to your roster of regular reading, pronto. What follows is the gift of Suzi’s words as taken directly from the e-book. Enjoy!

When our son Ben was born, I was ready to simply focus on having a child. Prior to my pregnancy, I was pursuing my acting career and running a custom-made clothing business from our studio apartment. I would swipe away the fabric scraps to write every morning, then polish a monologue in the same space where we ate, lived, and carried on our married life. Adding Ben to the mix in that small space made it nearly impossible for me to do anything but care for him. I left off auditioning and doing readings completely. I wrote every morning. And, happily, had not much attention for anything else.

My husband Jonathan, from the first days of Ben’s life, made sure I took time to write. Journal keeping was my lifeline through the early years of mothering. If I did nothing else for myself, I wrote for 45 minutes. Jonathan’s support made it possible for me to keep those thin tethers to my private thoughts supple and alive. Without him, I might have grown resentful of the time I devoted to mothering.

I kept sewing small projects I knew I could do with a long deadline. And the most important thing I did was learn to knit. My best friend teases me to this day about her first visit to us when Ben was 5 months old. She would hold Ben and play with him and I would keep telling her, “Just let me finish this row.” Up to that point, knitting was one fiber art I had not studied. I leapt in fully and became an accomplished knitter. And I learned other creative things I could do with a child around me, like preserving, gardening, and other needlework.

The most specific mindset is to find things you can do in stages. Try projects — and this may be a new way of working as an artist — but do things that you can put down and pick up again a day or a week later. The newborn and baby years are not the time to start your master’s degree or commit to an engagement with immoveable deadlines.

My biggest piece of advice is this (and I know how hard this is to accept): During the early years of your kids’ lives, let yourself off the hook. Don’t try to accomplish so much that you make yourself nuts. As a new mom, you are susceptible to massive self-doubt. You will double your grief by holding yourself to standards you kept pre-baby. Just take a break. Nap. Dream. Navigate these waters of motherhood knowing that things will change.

As kindly and well as you care for your child’s needs, turn that same attention on yourself. Nap, feed, and clothe yourself with the same amount of care. Schedule art dates for yourself just as you schedule play times for your children. Choose your friends wisely. Spend time with mothers who are living as you’d like to live. Find common ground and dwell with them there.

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If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$5.99. Available for download here.

Your Creative Intentions: Monday Post ~ July 23, 2012

“When we are succeeding — that is, when we have begun to overcome our self-doubt and self-sabotage, when we are advancing in our craft and evolving to a higher level — that’s when panic strikes. When we experience panic, it means that we’re about to cross a threshold. We’re poised on the doorstep of a higher plane.” ~Steven Pressfield



This is the moment to deepen, or commit to, your regular creativity practice. Regularity — a daily practice, if at all possible — is one of the best ways to stay in touch with how you make meaning.

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about.

Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.

Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community is a great way to leverage the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!

:::::::

If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$5.99. Available for download here.

Christine: Summer as Intermission

Christine Brandel is a Studio Mothers contributor. She also blogs at A Hot Piece of Glass.

The summer of 2012 feels like an intermission. My kids are 4, 6, and 13, and I planned no organized activities for them this year. No summer school, no week at Girl Scout camp, no trips to visit Camp Grandma. I’m fine with that, as it saves a little money while my husband starts a new job, and it gives me the opportunity to really be with my kids.

My oldest spends the summer with her father, so that leaves the two little ones at home. We joined the neighborhood pool for the first time this year, and I signed them up for swimming lessons, free passes for bowling, and movie tickets. Our family took an epic road trip from our home in Virginia to my father’s home in Miami, Florida, last month as our family vacation, so that part of the summer is completed.

I’m surprised by how well we have been able to fill our days thus far. The mornings have been for swimming – before the pool gets really crowded, and the weather gets ridiculously hot – and the afternoons have been for everything else: Wii gaming (we’re a big geek family), making things, playing with toys, building forts and complicated Rube Goldberg-like machinery in the living room. We started a complicated jigsaw puzzle and have spent a lot of time at the barn where my middle daughter takes riding lessons. I plan to read them the first Harry Potter book, and we haven’t gone bowling yet. There’s still time.

It’s a good summer. The “intermission” part comes when I think about myself. If you’ve ever been to an evening-length performance, you know about a classic intermission. Time to get up from your seat in the theater, enjoy a beverage or snack, chat with other theatergoers, let the first half of the performance sink in, and reset your attention span so you can be fully present for the second half of the show. That’s what’s going on here. Right now, the insane heat wave over central Virginia makes it impossible to run my kiln and torch. I can’t stand to be in the garage workshop for any length of time to do any metalwork, and I feel devoid of ideas for anything I *can* do in the house for my metal and glass primary art forms. Even my “day job” has suffered, in the sense that I have had to work significantly fewer hours because I can’t get into my office with my children in tow. Telecommuting works when the kids are absorbed by the Wii, but sometimes I really just need to sit at my desk. I’m handling that by working in the evening and going to the office after everyone else has gone and my husband is home, but that’s not something I want to, or am able to, do every day.

The intermission of the summer of 2012 is a hold on the “regular” activities that make up my life. Wait, artwork and creative pursuits. I’m going swimming with my kids now. Hang on, medical records and conference calls, it’s time for doing puzzles. We chat, enjoy snacks, play, stretch, and let the last school year sink in before we prepare for the next year. It is resetting my attention span so that I can be fully present for the next parts to come. I know that at the end of the summer, when my oldest has returned to this nest and school is starting again, I will resume my usual routine – kids to school, do some work, make some art, pretend to clean the house, keep up with the myriad details of life with three children – but for now, this glorious intermission works for us. I am finally relaxing into the notion that in several weeks, all that “other stuff” will be waiting for me, and I will pick it up and continue the performance of my life, much more present, hopefully more relaxed, and ready to get on with the things I let go of temporarily. It’s been fantastic.

How does the summer change the “performance” of your life?

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Monday Post ~ July 16, 2012

“Making things shows us that we are powerful, creative agents  people who can really do things, things that other people can see, learn from, and enjoy. Making things is about transforming materials into something new, but it is also about transforming one’s own sense of self.”
— David Gauntlett



This is the moment to deepen, or commit to, your regular creativity practice. Regularity — a daily practice, if at all possible — is one of the best ways to stay in touch with how you make meaning.

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about.

Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.

Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community is a great way to leverage the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!

:::::::

If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$5.99. Available for download here.

Six Months and Counting: Where Are You?

journey of intentions, pathway

Amazingly, we’re just past the halfway mark of 2012. This is a great time to review the plans or resolutions you made at the beginning of the year. Are you on course? Do you need to make a few adjustments? If you didn’t start 2012 with a plan, why not decide on what you’d like to get done before the next six months have passed? Let’s make sure that you feel satisfied and pleased when you raise a glass to ring in 2013.

At the beginning of this year, I published two posts encompassing my New Year’s review and planning process. The first is 2011-2012: Review, Celebrate, Plan; the second is 2012 Year Plan: Practice and Intentions.

I described my plan for 2012 as a “folio of intentions.” When I look at my list today, I see that I’m not as far along by this point as I would have predicted back in January. I crossed one item off of my list entirely after deciding not to do it. I also did a handful of things that weren’t on my list that I consider to be relevant milestones, but mostly I find it humbling — and inspiring — to review these priorities. I have some course corrections to make. Here is my original list, with the six-month update in green. New items are also in green.

2012 Intentions

Deepen presence in family time

  • Consciously strengthen relationships with each child [yes]
  • Continually add to “block time” card stack (activities/project deck with seasonal focus) [yes, but not as much as I’d hoped]
  • Do at least one art project each week with Aidan and Liam — Thursdays [have not managed to do this weekly yet]
  • Schedule weekly or bi-weekly date with husband [no — we’ve only had a handful]
  • Spend one-on-one time with second oldest son before he leaves for college
  • Spend one-on-one time with oldest son before  he goes back to college
  • Spend one-on-one time with daughter

Continually solidify creative practice

  • Submit five pieces for publication [behind pace]
  • Blog at least once per week @ Studio Mothers [yes]
  • Maintain Project Life binder all year [I’m a few months behind]
  • Read 50 books [I’m on pace with this one]
  • Create regular time for blog & magazine reading [still only ad hoc, not regular]
  • Establish regular time slot for daily writing practice

Focus on self and spiritual practice

  • Continually strive for daily meditation practice [yes — not 100%, but strong]
  • Prepare for new role as peer leader at sangha [I decided to decline the offer to become a peer leader as I felt I was worrying too much about being a “good” leader, and that the ego-driven thoughts were actually distracting from my practice — in addition to not having sufficient time in my schedule for the responsibility]
  • Daily journaling [yes — about 90%]
  • Continue to strengthen morning centering practice

Build coaching business

  • Add Right-Brain Business Plan benchmarks to planning calendar for year [no — this is one thing I want to get to sooner rather than later — adding it to my current action list]
  • Develop and enact marketing plan [yes, but need more time on this one]
  • Build envelope of private clients [yes]
  • Foster private coaching circle [yes]

Build Open Studio

  • Create new workshops for each quarter [yes]
  • Attract increasing number of attendees for Creative Community hours [yes — quite successful]
  • Establish working collaborations with local creative organizations, resources, and people [yes — measurable success on this front]

Up the ante on commitment to good health

  • 100% vegan, gluten-free from January 2012 through June 2012 (longer if still working) [I only managed about three months of strictly vegan diet — went back to eating eggs and dairy. I could write a 3,000-word blog post on this topic if I thought anyone would want to read it]
  • Consume 2 green protein smoothies each week [I’ve had a few lulls, but for the most part, yes]
  • Take vitamins, minerals, supplements, and iron every day [yes — almost 100% — I take about 16 pills every day!]
  • Exercise at least 3x per week [yes]
  • Meet benchmark of being able to rapidly do 10 full-on “boy” pushups by end of year (I can barely do 5 right now) [progress here, thanks to working with an excellent personal trainer, but I have a lot more work to do]

Improve financial stability

  • Reduce debt by 25% [sadly, not on pace for this one — and with two kids in college this year plus one still in preschool, this may not have been the most realistic intention]
  • Set up automatic savings system [see comment above!]

Where are you on your intentions for 2012?

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If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. 35 pages/$5.99. Available for download here.

Monday Post ~ July 9, 2012

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.”
— Rumi



This is the moment to deepen, or commit to, your regular creativity practice. Regularity — a daily practice, if at all possible — is one of the best ways to stay in touch with how you make meaning.

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about.

Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.

Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community is a great way to leverage the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!

:::::::

If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. 35 pages/$5.99. Available for download here.

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