Endless Source

Do you feel like your creative juices have dried up?

Do you feel tapped out and have no energy for new ideas?

I get it!

There is so much that is needed to be a successful today, and with the industry having less and less gatekeepers, then a lot more of the work lands on us as the drivers for our content.

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It can be so exhausting!  I imagine you would really love some SPACE and TIME right now, so you could just relax and connect back with your muse.

You’ve probably noticed that when you are super stressed out and not getting a lot of sleep, she disappears.

So, how do you keep up with the demand of your audience, keep up with creating new and exciting work that allows you to stand out AND take care of yourself?

Because it’s not about burning the candle at both ends. But in the moment, it can feel like there’s no other option.
So, how do successful Creatives do it?

Twice a year. in my Zen community, we enter into Ango.

Ango means peaceful dwelling, and is a 90 day intensification of Zen practice.  During these 90 days, you make commitments to increasing your practice, participating in retreats, and taking up study around a theme.

Something that really resonated with me when I found Zen, was an integral part of the process is Art Practice.

And for this Ango, the Art Practice is the Illuminated Journal.

A poem from Zen master, Eihei Dogen
Seeing Form with the Whole Body and Mind
Hearing Sounds with the Whole Body and Mind
One Understands Them Intimately

My amazing teacher, Hojin, wrote to all the participants with these beautiful words of instruction and inspiration:

This is not a journal in the sense of a personal, reflective diary, but live recordings of what we notice. It is an invitation to a journey of intimacy into the world.  It is seeing, hearing, expressing with the whole body-mind as we experience our lives.

You will need a blank book of some kind.  Bring it with you everywhere.  Any moment can be ripe.  You can notice fruits, vegetables, mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, buildings, plants, lamps, the moon, bugs, your children, friends and strangers and the weather.  You can notice the wonders of textures, colors, and patterns.  How do we keep meeting and discovering what is right in front of us that we may never noticed?  Come closer.  Come closer still.

Your illuminated journal can join words, poems, delightful descriptions with images, collage cut outs, swatches of pure color.

The illuminated journal form is very immediate – there is no time to analyze, consider or second guess.  Let your life dash through the pages and leave mysterious tracks behind!

I was so excited when I got this assignment for Ango, and right away went to my journals and found this beautiful blank one given to me by my client and brilliant photographer, Caitlin Cannon.

On the front?
Some kind of wonderful

I gathered all my colored pencils, and placed them in a basket and put the journal in my office, and then just took each day and began to translate.

Not only are the pages filling, but I enter my day differently.

Do I still have many things I need to do for my business?
Do they still get done AND I write in the illuminated journal?

For years, I didn’t participate in Ango because I always felt like I didn’t have the time. It felt overwhelming with growing my business and seeking my life partner.

Then, this Spring, I participated for the first time and found it actually didn’t take up nearly as much time as I thought.  And the most important part I noticed, was how differently I felt BECAUSE I participated.

I felt more grounded.
I felt more at peace.
I felt more connected to my life.

And I never lack for new ideas.

Even though my Fall schedule is very full, there was no question as to whether I would participate again.

It can be so easy in the fast paced life to think that our time with the muse has to be hours, or has to be sacrificed.

But, what if it’s not about long lengths of time?
What if it’s just a practice and a way of being for each day?

Today is a new day.
One you have never lived before.

What do you see?
What do you hear?

Life is happening all around you.

Where is your attention?
Are you spending all your time in the future worrying about what might happen?
Are you spending all your time in the past beating yourself up for past mistakes?

Your point of power is the present moment, and there is inspiration all around.

You don’t have to go far, all you need is to just come present to what is right in front of you.

And see what trails it takes you to.

May be a new story
A picture
A new song
A new dance
A new work.

Even as I write this and look out the window, there is a whole world alive outside.
The curve of a leaf.
The intricacy of the stones in my patio.
The breeze through the trees.

When we tap into what is right in front of us, we are actually tapping into something way larger.  In fact, we are tapping into an endless source.

What a relief!

So, come alive and open your eyes.
The muse never left. She’s been in front of you all along.

You have everything you need.

Overcoming the Heat

Are you feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do for your career?
Does it feel like the heat is ON, you are sweating, and getting no relief?

Here we are the beginning of August, and it’s the height of summer.  The air is THICK, the sun is HOT, and I imagine all you may want to do is just sit in the cool air conditioning, or just stay in the pool.

Temperatures can really soar this time of year, both internally and externally.

It’s hot outside, and when you look at your To Do’s, you just want to stick your head in the freezer.

I get it, deeply.

Remember when the sun was welcoming?
Remember when you made your vision at the beginning of the year and had so much joy and inspiration?

Does it feel like your “get up and go” has melted on the sidewalk in the mid-day heat?

So, how do you find relief with the heat?
How do you cool down and keep momentum going so the summer counts?

And most importantly, how do you stay connected to your dreams and juicy vision?

I really struggle in the summertime.

When I hit my 20’s I started to have some real issues in high heat and humidity.  At a week-long beach vacation with my family, for the first time, I got sun poisoning and heat stroke.  It was terrible.  I was in bed for two days, and was very physically sick.

After that, I found I started to have a real sensitivity to the heat, and it only increased in my 30’s and 40’s.

If I looked at the forecast and saw temps in the 90’s and above, I could feel my stomach tighten.  I learned quickly I had to cover my head with a good hat, and really minimize exposure.

And the reaction was very quick.

I would get light-headed.
I would feel like I was going to pass out.
My energy would plummet.

This was terrible, and kept me inside many times when friends and family were able to frolic and enjoy activities that I couldn’t participate in.

I felt really self conscious and alone.

Have you ever felt that?

I was convinced that if it was that hot outside, I would not be able to function.  No exceptions.

As this sensitivity only seemed to be getting worse, I imagined it would only continue to do so.  I couldn’t conceive it would change or be different, even though, deep in my heart, I really wanted it to.

Hot environment = suffering.

I found Zen and meditation in the winter of 2013.  I would go to the temple wrapped up in sweaters and socks, and cozy up on my cushion.

With meditation came peace, and at a time when I had lost so much in my life, it was a healing balm.  I began to build a new life, and Zen was the foundation of it all.

And then the summer came, hot as always in New York City.  I watched the temperatures rise, and became nervous to go to the temple because there was no air conditioning.

How would I be?

But because Zen was saving my life at the time, I went on a very hot summer day, and sat down on the cushion.

And a miracle happened.

I was ok.

In fact, I found that meditating actually brought my body temperature down.

I had found a way to be in the heat.
And what’s more, I realized my belief had changed.

In THIS environment, heat did NOT equal suffering.
Because I was concentrating on my breath, and working with my mind.

So, what happens when you get overheated?
What happens when the pressure of the sun is pounding down on you?

More than likely, you stop breathing.

It’s a very common response, and always accompanies overwhelm.

And then, when you stop breathing, your mind races.

And your mind probably starts to generate thoughts like
You never complete anything
You don’t deserve success
You can’t handle a thriving career

And this is all perfectly normal! 

But so is the heat. And on the journey of your amazing life and doing creative work that matters, you will always encounter challenges.

We can’t control the weather, but we can learn HOW to work with it and meet it.

It can be easy to think that when the heat is on with your career, it will ALWAYS mean you are stuck, or can’t complete.

But, what if that’s not true?
What if the heat is here to help guide you to what you actually NEED?

I now know that I need to wear a hat in the summer.  Also, if I’m going to be outside, I have a cold cloth or some ice to rub over my pulse points.  I make sure to check weather forecasts, and will be flexible with plans on those days the heat is really high. I avoid wide open spaces with no shade or covering.

So, what do you need when the heat is on?
What truly is HELPFUL to cool you down?

Perhaps, you need to take a quick walk.
Perhaps, pick up a journal and free write your frustration.
Perhaps, reach out to your coach or mentor or a close friend for some empathy.

But in all of these, stay CONNECTED.
Connected to what is happening in your body and what actually helps.

The reason?
Otherwise you will do the same thing over and over and find yourself stuck again and again.

Those big dreams?
You will believe with everything you’ve got they will NEVER come true.

We all have sensitivities.
There is no problem here.
It’s so easy to judge ourselves, but that judgement just generates more heat.

So, allow yourself some self compassion in the moment of sweating and cool yourself down.
Come back to curiosity.

Asking the question,
What is helpful?

Come back to your breath, and create the environment where you can handle the heat AND continue to take action towards your dreams.

This is where you are unstoppable, no matter the weather.