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Posts tagged ‘planning’

Meme of the Week


As found here. Happy Friday.


Meme of the Week


As found here. Happy Friday.


*2014 Create Your Incredible Year*

I’m pleased to once again promote Leonie Dawson’s “Create Your Incredible Year” workbook, planner, and calendar.

Create_Your_Amazing_YearIf you’re a planning junkie like I am, you can’t wait to get your hands on a new tool and wring every bit of awesomeness out of it: time-management, goal-setting, redefining what’s possible.

The 2014 Create Your Incredible Year workbook, planner, and calendar is a popular and extremely useful tool to help you plan and realize your most incredible year in life or business (or both!). Over the last five years, thousands of women have used this workbook with the most amazing results. It’s the best planning tool available to help you make your year your most exceptional yet!

Used by entrepreneurs, artists, mamas, creatives, coaches, teachers, and women of all ages, the Creating Your Incredible Year workbooks are filled with dozens of pages of powerful worksheets and a printable calendar to help you create your amazing new year. Oh, and they’re gorgeous and inspiring (no boring spreadsheets here).

This resource is available in a life edition ($9.95), business edition ($9.95), or combo edition ($17.90). This year, you can get the Life AND Biz editions of the workbook as a large-size, full-color paperback from Amazon (with PDF download for the calendars) for $25. Yes!

I’ve used the combo edition personally, and highly recommend Leonie’s work. I’m looking forward to digging in with my own 2014 combo edition.

Click here to find out more/to order.


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?


Panster versus Plotter

planning_the_journeyDuring November, the interwebs were abuzz with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the literary marathon during which participants bang out a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. A debate always emerges during NaNoWriMo, centered on a process question that is relevant to writers and artists alike. Which is better: pantser, or plotter?

A pantser, as the name implies, is one who flies by the seat of his or her pants. No outline, no roadmap, no limits. Pantsers feel constrained by outlines; many say that planning strips away their creative mojo. On the flip side, plotters prefer to know precisely which direction they’re headed in. A plotter novelist might produce a full set of index cards with each scene in bullet points before relaxing into the writing process. Writers in either camp vehemently defend their preferences (just google “pantser versus planner” and see for yourself).

Of course, neither approach is inherently better than the other. You need to do what works best for you. But sometimes we get stuck in what we think we “should” do, or what we learned from a mentor’s example, or what seems more legitimate. When that happens, it can be difficult to adopt the other method, even if it might be to our benefit.

The only way you’ll really know what works best for you is to try both. If the idea of planning your fiction feels frightening, give it a go. You might find inspiration in the clarity that an outline brings. And if you tend to plan the composition of your painting down to the last square centimeter, you might try purely intuitive work and see if that unlocks anything new.

The value of knowing if you’re a pantser or a plotter by nature—or if you fall somewhere in between—is that understanding your authentic process is part of your identity as an artist or writer. The more you understand (and anticipate) how you work, the more confident you become, and the more you are able to invest in your process rather than the outcome.

What works for you? (And if you participated in this year’s NaNoWriMo, hearty congratulations!)

This piece was originally published in Creativity Calling, the newsletter of the Creativity Coaching Association.


The Early Morning Creative Practice: Start Your Day With What Matters Most

Back in April, I wrote about my morning centering practice. This practice has evolved in several key ways in the past six months. Now, for the first time ever, I feel that I am truly and consistently walking the talk when it comes to my personal creativity.

It’s no secret that successful people make the very most of early morning hours. Whether you have a day job, a family, and/or wear 14 other hats, the first hours of the day are often your only shot at having time to yourself without interruption and distraction. As soon as your kids are sleeping through the night, you can start leveraging this opportunity.

For me, getting up early means 4:00 am.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Getting up early requires going to bed on time (9:00 – 9:15 pm over here). It also requires a fairly consistent schedule, as it’s difficult to get up at 4:00 on Monday morning after getting up at 7:00 on Saturday and Sunday. So I get up for writing practice at 5:00 on weekends. That means I’m not up late or out on the town on weekends. Is that a sacrifice? Maybe. But it doesn’t feel like one at the moment.

For me, getting up early is built on the foundation of exercise and eating right. I’ve been a vegetarian for many years, and as you may have read here before, I’ve long felt that wheat products are not my friend. I don’t have celiac disease, but I find that eating wheat (even whole grain) stimulates strong cravings and makes me feel hungry — and tired. (This book was quite affirming.) Today I am nearly vegan and totally wheat free. I eat a very low-carb diet and eat lightly at dinner. I don’t eat after 7:00 pm, ever. By eating lightly and going to bed a little bit hungry, I wake up full of energy and ready to launch into my writing practice. Bonus: I just took off a stubborn 10 pounds.

As you might imagine, the fact that I need to be in bed by 9:00 in order to get 7 hours of sleep has an impact on my marriage. My husband likes screen time in the evening, and I prefer to read, so this isn’t a huge issue. I try to make sure that we connect over dinner and on the weekends. Sometimes he comes to bed at the same time I do. We also share our daily morning meditation practice, which to my mind is more valuable than sitting next to each other in front of the TV half comatose for a couple of hours in the evening.

It won’t always be this way. Writing is important to me, and right now, this is what it takes to be a serious player. Play-ah! No more excuses. (As I’m sure you know, there are always 18,489 “good” excuses.)

Yeah, great, but what does that really LOOK like?

My morning practice starts at 4:00 am and ends at 8:15 am when I leave the house with my two youngest children. I started the 4:00 wake-up over the summer and have now incorporated the school routine. Here’s what my morning practice looks like, woven into the regular flow of home life:

  • 4:00: out of bed, make tea, settle into office
  • Read the day’s page in The Daily Writer
  • Writing practice: 500-word minimum (this helps me focus on output rather than falling into editing)
  • 5:20: join my husband upstairs for 20 minutes of meditation
  • Do three vinyasas (sun salutations)
  • 5:45: back in office, read the day’s entry in Mark Nepo’s Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening
  • Draw an Osho Zen Tarot or Faerie Tarot card
  • Record last night’s dream(s) in my dream journal, if I remember anything
  • 6:15: stop to ensure that daughter is awake, make breakfast for her, eat a few spoonfuls of peanut butter if I haven’t already, husband leaves
  • Make lunch for daughter and two younger sons (daughter catches school bus at 6:48)
  • At some point here, the two little ones wake up; feed them breakfast
  • Unload dishwasher and tidy kitchen
  • At kitchen table, finish morning pages/intention journaling if not already complete
  • Review my list of personal goals and intentions for the year
  • Plan the day (in planner, assigning a time and a duration for each task, or adding them to the “batch task” block)
  • Dress self and youngest son, brush teeth, make bed, put in a load of laundry if time, make sure we’re all ready to leave the house
  • 8:15 heard little boys out of the house for bus/school run

Note that the writing practice comes FIRST. That way, if a wee one wakes up exceptionally early, it’s still already done. If I have to scrap the centering part of my practice (mediation, journaling, etc.) then so be it. But the writing practice isn’t threatened. Usually, it all falls into place, with a little juggling between the aforementioned time slots. Everyone gets off to school and work in good stead, and the house is (gasp!) clean and tidy.

I understand that a routine like this might seem baffling — or totally unappealing. But for me, it’s a completely sustainable loop. Those four hours and fifteen minutes are routine now. It’s a routine that is grounded in my macro level intentions and priorities. I can’t overstate what it means to me to have a daily writing practice that absolutely happens every day. Seven days a week. I’m in touch with my creative work every day, all day, because it’s always fresh, always percolating. Without this morning anchor, the demands of my editorial business, my coaching practice, my studio storefront, and my family/domestic life eat up every available moment.

Interested in what an early morning creative practice could do for you? My last post on this topic included some ideas for developing your own morning centering practice. Add the creative session, mix well, and enjoy.

And hey: If you’re up at 4:00 am eastern time, know that you and I are creative buds.

What think?


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?


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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