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Posts tagged ‘new year’

Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ January 6, 2014

Fabienne Frederickson quote

A regular creative practice — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying 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. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

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 leverages the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!

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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/$11.98. Available for download here.

Meme of the Week

New Year

Happy Friday; Happy New Year.

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Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ December 30, 2013

Emerson quote

A regular creative practice — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying 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. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

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 leverages 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/$11.98. Available for download here.

Three Words for 2013

The new year has begun. At the two-week mark I’m ready to get specific about how I want to approach the months ahead. At about this time last year, I posted my personal review of 2011, and then my intentions for 2012. Instead of goals, l preferred the word intentions, because so many of my priorities comprised an ongoing practice, rather than end points. If you follow our Monday Post you know that my weekly intentions rarely vary. My frame for the coming year is similar. But first, a brief review of 2012, because I like to appreciate where I’ve been before moving forward. Don’t you?

2012 Highlights

  • freshly pressedIn January my nonfiction writers’ group met for the first time. A year later, we’re still going strong — each of the six of us working on books (although we have since sidled into fiction too). We meet monthly in person and share our progress weekly via e-mail. This group is hugely important to me.
  • In January I also launched my first group coaching circle, which met monthly throughout the year. An invaluable experience that will continue into 2013.
  • In March I taught the first of multiple writers’ workshops at Open Studio — workshops that were well received by my students and informed my own writing practice.
  • In March Studio Mothers made the Circle of Moms Top 25 Blogs list.
  • In May my business partner Ellen Olson-Brown and I had our first “live” television appearance as guests on a local cable show, Around Town.
  • In June I had the pleasure of being a guest on Mark Lipinski’s internet radio show, Creative Mojo. Mark is an awesome guy, and the experience was terrific.
  • For Studio Mothers, without a doubt the highlight of the year was making the WordPress Freshly Pressed page in June. The ginormous traffic increase and bump in subscribers means that we’re now reaching a much wider audience.
  • On July 4, I finished and released my e-book, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years. Amazingly satisfying.
  • In August I began a regular writing practice. It wasn’t every day — not at first — but I realized that 500 words a day was doable, even with I didn’t “have time” to write. Often, I’d write a lot more than 500 words. Now it’s a daily habit. This may be the most significant element of 2012.
  • In September I performed in a live yoga demo for at our town’s annual festival. Nothing like getting on stage in front of a crowd in your yoga kit!
  • In November I pushed the on-stage envelope even further by participating in a fashion-show fundraiser wearing a metal ensemble that Grace Jones might have envied.
  • Throughout the year, I co-hosted various events at Open Studio: art openings, workshops, and our weekly Creative Community Hours.
  • Although I didn’t enact the marketing plan for my coaching business that I created in 2011, I had a good year on the creativity coaching front, developing a roster of ongoing clients who are doing amazing things — and I’m honored to support them in their creative journeys.
  • My editorial business, Pen and Press, had a strong year. Wonderful new clients — two of whom have become friends.
  • On the personal side, my oldest son had a fantastic junior recital at Ithaca College and started his senior year; my second-oldest son graduated from high school and began his freshman year at Berklee College of Music; my 16-year-old daughter got her license and a job; my second-grader became an even more manic football fanatic (which seemed impossible); my youngest started his last preschool year at a Montessori school, which was a huge improvement for him — much happier. In all, the children had a great year. My husband started the year at a new job and ended the year without a job, so that’s been a challenge — but a unifying challenge, which has been positive.

Between the Lines

When I think through the highlights, I see that this year was very much about connecting with other people and becoming increasingly comfortable in front of a crowd, large or small. It’s no accident that our tagline for Open Studio was Connect, Create, Grow. (I used the past tense when referring to the studio. More here.)

When I look at the list of intentions I created for last year, I calculate about at 50% “success” rate. I’m okay with that.

Moving Forward

For this year, instead of another folio of intentions, I’m doing something different. I still have the same priorities, but one concrete goal tops the list: finish my fiction manuscript. I don’t know if this is within my reach, but I’m going to try. On top of that, I’ve identified three words that are my mantra for the year:

three words for 2013

Focus is for working on one thing until it’s done. Working with the wifi shut off and/or with my e-mail turned off. Not jumping from thing to thing in a ridiculous circle. Focus is for planning my day and following the plan. Focus is for my writing practice.

Kindness is for kindness to self. Being kind to others is not a struggle, but I tend to push myself too hard. I’m working on ways to be gentler, which means adjusting my personal expectations. Treating others and myself with empathy.

Delight is for doing less and enjoying it more. Delight is for slowing down and reconnecting with the natural childhood awe that used to be natural. Delight is for not running around like a maniac. Delight is for being here now, and not wanting to be anywhere else.

How about you? What are your intentions for 2013? If you have a word — or three — will you share?

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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.

2012 Year Plan: Practice and Intentions

This is part two of my New Year’s post series. The first one is 2011-2012: Review, Celebrate, Plan.

journey of intentions, pathwayMy plan for 2012 is a folio of intentions. The 2012 list of focus areas and specific bullets looks a lot like my plan for last year. This is because about half of my priorities are what I would call a practice. They are a continual effort, not a destination. Even something specific, like “complete creativity coaching certification” from last year’s list — which I did complete — evolves this year into “build coaching business.” In this way, there are very few instances where I finish something and it isn’t immediately replaced by the next natural step. I am learning to accept this, embrace this, instead of falling for the old story that things will be “easier” next week, next month, next year. They won’t. I am on the path that I chose for myself, and while it’s a journey and I’m moving, the trees will always look like trees and the rocks will always look like rocks. So I celebrate them, and carry on with my practice, instead of fooling myself with the idea that one day I’ll be “done.”

In this spirit of practice versus destination, I am now calling this year plan my intentions rather than my goals. To my ear, the word intention speaks more to the path and less to the journey. The word goal is almost entirely end-point focused. So as a reminder to stay present in my practice, I am focusing on intentions rather than goals.

My takeaway from my review of last year was that while I’d had a banner year on the personal and professional front, I hadn’t followed my intentions in mothering. What this tells me is that my unmeasurable objectives need to be made more concrete. I am going to add more of these efforts to my calendar, so that I make time for the one-on-one outings, and make time for the projects, and make time to do the reading, preparing, and behind-the-scenes work that can turn mothering into magic.

Interestingly, my editorial business didn’t make the list of intentions. This work still occupies the lion’s share of my child-free hours, but I’m not inspired to make significant changes or re-focus on this area. I’m getting better about hiring subcontractors and delegating tasks that can be delegated. Ultimately I want to move away from this business and into coaching and writing full time. It will take me a while to get there, and for now, all I need to do with that business is continually work smarter and keep my projects contained so that they don’t spill out onto the other plans — the ones that mean more to me.

This list doesn’t include every last one of my intentions, as there are a few that I’m holding close to my heart for safekeeping, but here’s the accurate overview.

2012 Intentions

Deepen presence in family time

  • Consciously strengthen relationships with each child
  • Continually add to “block time” card stack (activities/project deck with seasonal focus)
  • Do at least one art project each week with Aidan and Liam—Thursdays
  • Schedule weekly or bi-weekly date with husband

Continually solidify creative practice

  • Submit five pieces for publication
  • Blog at least once per week @ Studio Mothers
  • Maintain Project Life binder all year
  • Read 50 books
  • Create regular time for blog & magazine reading

Focus on self and spiritual practice

  • Continually strive for daily meditation practice
  • Prepare for new role as peer leader at sangha
  • Daily journaling

Build coaching business

  • Add Right-Brain Business Plan benchmarks to planning calendar for year
  • Develop and enact marketing plan
  • Build envelope of private clients
  • Foster private coaching circle

Build Open Studio

  • Create new workshops for each quarter
  • Attract increasing number of attendees for Creative Community hours
  • Establish working collaborations with local creative organizations, resources, and people

Up the ante on commitment to good health

  • 100% vegan, gluten-free from January 2012 through June 2012 (longer if still working)
  • Consume 2 green protein smoothies each week
  • Take vitamins, minerals, supplements, and iron every day
  • Exercise at least 3x per week
  • Meet benchmark of being able to rapidly do 10 full-on “boy” pushups by end of year (I can barely do 5 right now)

Improve financial stability

  • Reduce debt by 25%
  • Set up automatic savings system

These intentions are printed and hanging on the wall beside my desk. I also put a copy inside my planner, so that I can re-read them during weekly and daily planning. I’m going to go through my yearly calendar right now and add the measurable milestones so that I don’t lose focus. After all, good intentions won’t get you anywhere if you don’t keep them alive. You know what they say about that road to hell….

What are your intentions for 2012? How are you organizing your energies?

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2011~2012: Review, Celebrate, Plan

My New Year’s Eve ritual is to review my goals for the past year, see how things panned out, and make note of the year’s highlights (both in successes and unexpected challenges). Then I take some time to carefully think through my goals for the coming year. Because I am a nerd and a planning freak, I love, love, love this ritual.

Due to an unusually crazy schedule, I haven’t been able to do my annual review until this morning. I’d like to share the process with you. While it is fun to share the successes, it is equally humbling to share the oversights. This will be a long post, broken into two parts, so feel free to skim the boring bits. This post is Review & Celebrate. Next week I’ll follow up with the 2012 planning post.

2011 goals review

Focus on creative practice

  • Submit five pieces for publication (almost—hit 4)
  • Finish novel, ~80K words/3K words per week Jan-May (no)
  • Paint a large format painting (no)
  • Create a piece for “nest” Creative Every Day challenge (yes)
  • Blog at least one per week @ Studio Mothers (no)
  • Maintain Project Life binder all year (yes)

Launch coaching business

  • Complete CCA coaching certification (yes)
  • Develop business and marketing plan (yes)
  • Enact marketing plan (partial)

Focus on personal restoration and spiritual practice

  • Sit daily (not daily, but solid for most of the year)
  • Daily journaling (90%)
  • Read A Year with Rumi every day (yes)
  • Read 50 books (yes — on the nose!)
  • Create regular time for blog & magazine reading (no)
  • Develop strategies to handle stress better (hmmm…..)
  • Enjoy social media without it being an interruption (good progress here)
  • Stick to the good schedules I have developed (mostly!)

Enjoy family time

  • Consciously strengthen relationships with each child (not measurable, but yes)
  • Spend more one-on-one time with each child (did not do nearly what I wanted to here)
  • Develop “block time” card stack (activities/project deck) (yes, not complete)
  • Do at least one art project each week with Aidan and Liam (no — only sporadic)
  • Create outdoor living/play space in spring (yes)
  • Eat in dining room more regularly (no — dog started peeing in dining room, so I have to keep it gated off, which makes it inconvenient for week-night meals)

Recommit to good health

  • Increase intake of raw foods (yes)
  • Consume 4-5 green protein smoothies each week (no)
  • Take vitamins, minerals, supplements, and iron every day (almost 100%)
  • Avoid sugar and wheat (on and off)
  • Exercise 3x per week (was derailed by broken foot that took 6 months to heal, but made up for that in the second half of the year by developing regular yoga practice)

Improve financial stability

  • Work smarter (day job) to increase billable hours (yes)
  • Reduce debt (no — actually increased it instead)
  • Set up automatic savings (no)

2011 personal adventures, successes, and challenges

February

  • Broke my foot by falling on my own garage stairs. It took six months until my ortho gave me the all-clear for high-impact exercise.
  • Began first class for coaching certification.

April

  • Launched monthly newsletter, The Creative Times.
  • Joined RAW New England (Random Art Workshops).

May

  • Published nonfiction essay in Wild Apples journal; read at launch party at Hill-Stead Museum.
  • Liam became completely toilet trained, ending 15 total years of diapering!!! (This may have been the highlight of the year, actually.)
  • Fabulous trip to Costa Rica with husband.

June

August

October

  • Co-led successful workshop (via Minerva Project collaboration).

November

  • Participated in Art Every Day Month.
  • Guest blog post at Bliss Habits.
  • Husband began 2.5-month stint of unemployment. While this had deleterious effect on financial situation, it was awesome to have him around, and he put in extra time with Aidan and Liam while I worked like a madwoman.

December

  • Signed lease and LLC papers for brick-and-mortar studio!
  • Husband received excellent job offer from a company he’s excited about.
  • Little Finn joined the family (don’t worry — he’s a kitten, not baby #6!).
  • Finished last requirements for coaching certification.

What all these bullet points tell me

2011 was unusually full of personal and professional successes. Working on my certification and launching two new businesses (coaching and Open Studio) added considerably to the to-do list and my general stress level. I had some success in counterbalancing that weight through meditation, yoga practice, journaling lots of reading, and creative work. In the realm of the “self,” I have to say that this year was significant. I didn’t do all of the creative work I’d intended to, but I did a lot of other, wonderful, unexpected things instead.

At the same time, I did not do nearly as much on the family front as I wanted to. I really started missing my kids as the year came to a close — time spent just hanging out a home, nowhere to go, board games and art projects and reading aloud. There wasn’t enough of that. We had too many days when I felt like I was just dragging my younger kids from one thing to the next. I didn’t invest in the extra one-on-one time with each child that was part of my original goals list.

This brings me to my plans for 2012. I’ll get to those in my next post.

In the meantime, what does your overview of 2011 look like? Will you share your top 10 successes?

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