Craftivism Now!

Are you ready to be inspired? Like let’s go out and change the world right now, this minute, level of inspiration? Then pull up a chair because have I found the book for you and it is all about crafting. Yep, like needle and thread, yarn and bead, clay and paper crafting. The book is called “Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism” and it was edited by Betsy Greer, author of “Knitting for Good!: A Guide to Creating Personal, Social, and Political Change Stitch by Stitch” and she also runs the blog Craftivism.com.

What is craftivism? It’s a term for crafting that is motivated by social or political activism. Greer explains that “the creation of things by hand leads to a better understanding of democracy, because it reminds us that we have power.”

“Craftivism” is divided into four categories: Personal Threads, Refashioning Craft, Craft as a Political Mouthpiece, and Activating Communities. Personal Threads features personal approaches to craft including the concept of guerrilla kindness and some really badass cross-stitchers and quilters. Refashioning Craft discusses how you can use craft for clothing that can reflect beliefs by crafting resistance or making a statement such as a jewelry maker who creates in public and gives away the result. The next section, Craft as a Political Mouthpiece, includes the AIDS Quilt, a knitted mouse activist, the work of the Adithi collective, and more. Finally Activating Communities which shows how crafting can improve and empower communities be it by updated suffragette banners (there’s one for Robyn!) or making handmade basketball nets.

“Craftivism” is a fascinating look at art, politics, crafts, and fashion. The interviews and stories are inspiring and at times emotionally moving. You’re going to want this book and then get ready to get engaged.

Ask What is Working for Greater Results

By Jim Donovan

You’ve probably been to business meetings when the person leading the meeting said something like, “Chantal, sales in the Southwest are off 23% from last quarter. Frank, production orders in the Northeast are off 9%. What’s wrong guys?”

At this point both Chantal and Frank begin to defend their position and rattle off a series of “reasons” as to why things are the way they are. Weather delays, late deliveries, the flu, and the economy, are all blamed for the lackluster performance in both cases.

I remember back when I was in door-to-door sales, barely out of my teens, sitting with small groups of salespeople huddled together in diners, continuing on the conversation that started at our mandatory morning sales meeting, about why sales are down.

In these conversations you typically hear every excuse on earth except the one in which people take personal responsibility for the poor sales numbers. If you’ve ever seen the 1992 movie “Glengarry, Glen Ross,” with Jack Lemmon and a cast of other great actors, you may remember the scenes with all the salespeople blaming their lackluster performance on “the leads.” They go on and on about how, if the leads were better, they’d all be selling more.

One of the keys to achieving higher levels of success is to give up blame all together. When you take personal responsibility for the conditions in your life you are then empowered to change them. Until you are willing to do this you remain a victim of circumstances.

The types of meetings described above begin a steady stream of “reasons” (excuses) why things are not better. People begin looking for ways to place blame wherever they can and the entire conversation turns into a negative, finger-pointing exercise that produces little, if any, useful result.

The meetings continue along in this manner, with each department head explaining why business is not better and trying to find someplace to assign blame until, sufficiently demoralized, the managers return to their respective departments vowing to do better, feeling defeated, and sometimes not caring whether or not they do better.

While on the surface this seems quite normal, in practice it does little more than leave people feeling depressed and dejected. Yes, there is value in examining mistakes and learning from them, however, if you accept the centuries old idea that, “our minds move in the direction of our dominant thoughts,” as it was expressed by motivation legend Earl Nightingale, you will soon realize that these meetings cannot possibly result in anything but a negative outcome.

You can beat a problem to death in endless meetings but it will not alter the fact that something is not working. Why would you want to invest any more time in talking about things that do not work?

Yet, that’s exactly what’s taking place in meeting rooms and on shop floors in companies all across America everyday. With a steady barrage of negativity being dispersed at them, it’s no wonder that the level of employee engagement is at an all-time low. One the other side of the coin we have the employees themselves carrying this negative tone throughout the entire organization. These people are, according to Gallup, “The eighteen percent who are actively engaged in spreading ill-will throughout the company.

Simply replacing the “What’s wrong” question, with “What’s working,” will cause your mind to search for things that are going right and, as a result of the law of attraction (like attracts like), you will begin finding more and more things that are working. In the case of discussing strategies and activities, starting with what’s working enables you to build further improvements on a solid foundation that is already producing the desirable results. By focusing brainstorming sessions around what’s working and drilling further into that is what makes achieving quantum results possible.

In business meetings you can use this type of questioning to identify the actions and activities that are producing positive results and build upon that. You may be surprised to learn that some of what you’ve been doing does not work and, most likely, never will. Knowing this enables you to invest your time and resources in those activities that are working and stop wasting valuable assets on those that are not.

A law firm following this procedure, for example, may learn that the pile of money they’ve been sinking into Yellow Page advertising is not paying for itself while their YouTube and social media activity is going gangbusters. Knowing this enables them to reallocate marketing resources where they will do the most good.

If you consider the amount of time spent thinking, worrying and talking about what’s wrong you’ll soon realize it’s one of the most destructive things any organization can do. By changing your focus to what’s working, what’s going right, and what’s positive in a given situation, you’re in a better position to access your best and brightest ideas and take the actions that will produce the results you desire.

Following along this line of thinking, you can make a practice of noticing and commenting when people are doing something right. Be a value finder and, as the late motivational legend Zig Ziglar said, “Catch people doing things right.”

All too often the only time people are recognized at their job is when they’re being criticized for not reaching a goal or making a mistake. Unproductive practices like this contribute greatly to the frustrations and unhappiness people experience at work. I’m not suggesting that you ignore missed revenue targets or allow sloppy work to continue but, when at all possible, focus on what is working and the value the person brings to then organization. We all need to be recognized for the contribution we’re making at work.

Changing the tone of the conversation in the workplace in a more positive direction will go a long way toward increasing employee engagement and, as a result, increase productivity and happiness throughout your organization.

About Jim Donovan:
Jim Donovan speaks regularly to employees and executives at small business and large corporations. He is a frequent media guest and expert source on personal development, business success, and the spiritual laws that develop both. He lives in Bucks County, PA. His website is www.JimDonovan.com.

Based on the book “Happy @ Work: 60 Simple Ways to Stay Engaged and Be Successful”. Copyright © 2014 by Jim Donovan. Reprinted with permission from New World Library.www.NewWorldLibrary.com

Feng Shui Your Love Life

I received this fun, and informative, little video from Tess Whitehurst. In 2 minutes and 30 seconds she manages to drop a lot of Feng Shui knowledge! I think you guys are going to love it!

About Tess Whitehurst:
Tess Whitehurst is the author of “Magical Housekeeping”, “The Good Energy Book”, “The Art of Bliss”, “Magical Fashionista”, and the “Magic of Flowers”. She’s been practicing feng shui professionally in Los Angeles since 2005. Visit her online and sign up for her free monthly newsletter at www.tesswhitehurst.com, read her blog at www.enchantingtheday.blogspot.com, and connect with her on social media at facebook.com/TessWhitehurstAuthor and twitter.com/tesswhitehurst.

Life Organizing: A Completely New Way to Flow with Time

By Jennifer Louden

Do you feel a pull to be present, to match your pace to the fluid and complex world ours has become? If so, the more traditional approaches to managing your life and structuring your days can hog-tie you, forcing you to relinquish the skills most needed in today’s world – like intuition, emotional intelligence, creativity, and big-picture thinking.

I’ve got an alternative. This process, what I call life organizing, is infinitely richer then plotting your days in fifteen-minute increments in your planner. But one warning: change can be frightening, especially at first. I will ask you, over and over, to trust, to loosen your grip on life. I will ask you to stop and feel, to tune in to what you really want and what you really know. The rewards of your courage are limitless – a life that sings, that moves with instead of against.

While a short article isn’t enough space to give all the knowledge, experiences, and thoughts I have about life organizing (I’d need to write a book to do that – and, in fact, I have!), I can provide the basics. Life organizing works in two complementary ways, easily adoptable and adaptable:

1) A life planner that you choose and create. This planner will enable you to discern what you want week by week while gently tracking where your time and energy are actually going, and what might be getting in your way of living a life you love. The life planner’s core is four to six weekly mindful questions that build on and refer to each other, and move you into a deeper mode of awareness and listening.

2) A check-in that consists of five steps and requires as little time as it takes to open the freezer, find the ice cream, and get a spoon.

1. Connect: Breathe deeper, stretch your arms overhead, step outside and feel the breeze on your skin – anything that connects you with the physical world.

2. Feel: Tune into your heart to access information unavailable to your head. Put your attention on your heart, placing your hand there. Recall a time you felt loved and appreciated or loving and appreciative. Linger there for a few seconds.

3. Inquire: Ask a mindful question to open up possibilities you literally couldn’t see before. My favorite: What do I need to know right now? (What if you really didn’t need to know more than the next immediate step?)

What do I want? (Creativity requires being in touch with your undiluted desires. Remember, you don’t have to act on what you want, and wanting doesn’t mean getting.)

What don’t I want? (Sometimes the process of elimination can be less intimidating than naming your desires outright!)

How can I be gentle with myself in this situation? (We can all benefit from asking this many times a day)

4. Allow: Trust that, by connecting, feeling, and inquiring, you’ll hear or see or feel or sense what your next step is—and only your next step. Allowing is about noticing your experience, and opening to your next step.

5. Apply: Action is where the practical and results-oriented parts of you get their due. Without action, without decision, you remain in possibility, which is safe and beautiful but eventually enervating and boring. That doesn’t mean eating the whole elephant in one bite; small steps aren’t just okay; they’re encouraged.

Life Organizing in the Moment in Action

It’s mid-morning, and your plan for the day is already in shambles. You’re reaching for a Diet Coke, hoping it will give you the energy to deal with the next crisis. Then you remember that there’s another way. You make the choice.

Feel your feet connecting with the ground beneath you. Take a deep breath and reach your arms overhead, exhaling with a huge sigh. Put your hand on your heart and recall feeling balanced and flowing. Ask, “What choice feels easiest in this moment?” Visualize bringing this question into your heart, and take a breath or two to infuse it with flow and peace.

Perhaps a brief image of your sister comes to mind, or you hear a refrain of an old song that reminds you of her. Or perhaps you remember the feeling of your sister hugging you. You call her, have a lovely chat, and when you get off the phone, you have new energy —enough to move you forward to the next task awaiting you.

Do you begin to see how this approach flows with life? I’m not proposing you sell your worldly possessions and move to the woods to live in an unheated yurt. I’m not recommending you consult crystals or the I Ching before moving a muscle. What I’m saying is when you think you’re lost, overwhelmed, and without direction, you do “know” what to do to restore your balance and your direction– but it’s a different kind of knowing, one you already possess, and need only be reminded of how to access.

About Jennifer Louden:
Jennifer Louden is the author of “The Life Organizer” and “The Woman’s Comfort Book”. A personal growth pioneer who helped launch the self-care movement, she’s written 4 additional books on well-being and whole living that have inspired women all over the world. Jen believes self-love + world-love = wholeness for all. Visit http://JenniferLouden.com/lifeorganizer for a life organizer app & other useful freebies.

Based on the new paperback edition of “The Life Organizer: A Woman’s Guide to a Mindful Year” © 2013 by Jennifer Louden. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com

Yoga Styles: Discover the Practice for You

By Meagan McCrary

At first glance it appears that yoga is yoga is yoga, but take a closer look and you’ll discover a vast world of yoga systems and lineages, teaching methodologies and techniques, different practices and beliefs, and so forth and so on. Modern yoga has evolved into a myriad of styles, variations and combination of yoga practices, with more approaches being developed with each passing year. And while yoga is for everyone, not every style of yoga is: How do you know what style, or styles, of yoga is best for you?

The first step is to know your choices and understanding the difference between yoga styles. The second is to know what you are looking for in ways of a yoga practice. Consider your reasons for practicing; what would you like to gain from your time on the mat? Are you searching for a sweaty, dynamic (yet mindful) workout? Or are you more attracted to yoga’s restorative practices? Do you have any special needs or limitations? Would you prefer a class with personal attention? Or are you interested in some of the more traditional aspect of yoga? What excites you about yoga and, most importantly, what’s going to keep you coming back?

Below are a few key styles of yoga for you to familiarize yourself with what’s out there, but remember there’s a whole vast world of yoga styles and systems offering different experiences. What’s important is that if you’re in the know you can attend any yoga class you’d like with confidence.

Ashtanga: The Original Vinyasa Flow Yoga
Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic, physically demanding practice that synchronizes breath and movement, producing a strong internal heat as you move through a set sequence of postures. Originating with this style of yoga, vinyasa, which means “breathing-movement system,” forms the foundation of practice. Each movement is accompanied by one breath to create one system of breathing and moving, or one vinyasa. The method is a process of purification, heating the body and eliminating toxins and impurities through sweat. And sweat you will as you move briskly from one pose to the next to the rhythm of your own breath.

Side Note: Power yoga, vinyasa yoga and all of the flow variations of yoga were developed from Ashtanga yoga and based in the same vinyasa technique. The difference being that Ashtanga yoga has six set sequences of poses, and the majority of students only practice the first two series. The sequencing in vinyasa flow style yoga is very creative, taking your body on a challenging journey through a variety of postures.

Iyengar: Alignment-Based Yoga
Iyengar yoga is the practice of precision, paying close attention to the anatomical details and alignment of each posture. Rather than moving quickly from one pose to the next, postures are built methodically with acute concentration and held for longer periods of time while students receive individualized attention from the teacher. Iyengar teachers are very skilled at offering modifications for injuries and limitations, using props as necessary, making this style of yoga appropriate for just about everyone. Marked by discipline, the method systematically cultivates strength, flexibility, endurance and stability along with correct structural alignment and concentration.

Meagan McCrary

Kundalini: Energy-Focused Yoga
Kundalini yoga is a highly spiritual and dynamic practice aimed at expanding consciousness and increasing physical vitality by accessing and integrating prana (life-force energy) throughout the body. The method is multidimensional, using rhythm, movement, breath, and sound to effectively stimulate and shift your energy — something you can feel in your body. The practice alternates between active exercises (known as kriyas) and periods of relaxation, during which you’ll be guided to pay close attention to any internal sensations you’re experiencing. Beginner friendly, Kundalini yoga promotes a strong inward focus rather than outwardly perfecting the poses, promising that all you need to be able to do is breathe and move and you will have an energetic experience in your very first class.

Bikram: Hot Yoga
Bikram Yoga is a set sequence of 26 yoga postures done in 105-degree heat with 40 percent humidity for 90 minutes. The sequence is designed to systematically work every part of the body from the inside out. You will twist, churn, bend, bow and fold your way through postures, bringing fresh, oxygenated blood to every internal organ your body. The heat and humidity serve to speed up the body’s natural detoxifying process, sweating out toxins while boosting your heart rate. There is no flow between positions in Bikram yoga, each pose is performed twice and held from anywhere from 10-60 seconds. In the end, the practice is just as much an exercise in willpower as it is physical exertion.

One last word of advice: Take a few classes. Unless you absolutely hated the experience take a few different teachers before writing a system off. Finding a yoga teacher that you resonate with is just as important as finding the right style. Other than that, don’t be afraid to try something new, you may surprise yourself and end up falling in love with your yoga practice.

About Meagan McCrary:
Meagan McCrary is a Los Angeles based yoga teacher and the author of Pick Your Yoga Practice. She teaches for Equinox Sports Clubs, works one-on-one with some of the entertainment industries leading professionals, and holds workshops and retreats nationally and internationally. Visit her online at http://www.meaganmccrary.com.

Based on the book “Pick Your Yoga Practice” © 2013 by Meagan McCrary. Printed with permission of New World Library www.newworldlibrary.com

The Five Best Yoga Moves for the Office at Your Desk

By Alanna Zabel

Even if you do not work in an office, you most likely spend time sitting in front of a computer – and possibly slouch every now and then? These repetitive patterns can tighten your hip flexor tendons, weaken your lower back and poorly affect neck and shoulder alignment. The following five stretches are a great way to minimize muscle tightness from sitting in a chair for long periods of time. Remember, sitting with good posture is one of the most effective ways to work your abdominal muscles (isometric), so take advantage of this great ab workout at work.

Low Back Release: Sitting in your office chair, make sure you have a few feet of room in front of you. With your feet on the ground, parallel and hip-distance apart, bring your hands to the front of your knees.

a) Arch your back for length, lifting your chest towards the ceiling (hold for 3-5 breaths), then

b) fold over your legs, reaching your hands towards your feet with your head dropping towards the floor. Hold another 5-8 deep breaths here.

*If you have any herniated discs, forward bending is contraindicated. If this is the case for you, stay with the first portion of this exercise (a) for 5-8 breaths.

Wrist Relief: In a seated position, with your feet on the ground, parallel and hip-distance apart, hold your arms out in front of you, parallel to the ground. Bring your hands together and interlace your fingers, then turn your hands “inside out” away from you. Hold for 5-8 deep breaths.

Chest Opener: Still seated, grab the outside edges of your chair (with palms facing in towards your body). Lean forward, pushing your chest out and up, possibly straightening your elbows. Hold for 5-8 deep breaths.

Seated Pigeon: Cross your right ankle over your left thigh, two or three inches above the left knee. Keep your right foot flexed throughout this exercise/stretch. Use your right hand to brace your right knee and your left hand to hold your right foot. Lengthen and arch your back, pulling your chest forward until you feel a stretch in your back, glutes and thighs. Hold for 8-10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Quad Stretch: Sit on the edge of an armless chair or bench so that your right hamstring and right glute are on the left side of the chair, and your left glute is 1/2 of the way off the chair. Once your body is stable in that position (you may need to hold your desk in front of you), bring your left foot behind you so that the top of it is pressing toward the floor. Push your left hip forward and lift your chest (more advanced, reach your left arm over your head). Hold for 8-10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

About Alanna Zabel:
Alanna Zabel is the founder of
AZIAM Yoga. Voted “Best Yoga Instructor in LA” by Los Angeles Family Magazine in 2011, Alanna is a certified yoga, fitness, Pilates and dance instructor who is passionate about teaching holistic and organic wellness.

Alanna focuses all of her work on the personal Self realization of those she is working with. She enjoys leading yoga retreats nationally and internationally, including her Detox Yoga, Surf & Yoga and Seva (service) Retreats.

Alanna is the author of As I Am: Where Spirituality Meets Reality which incorporates a 21-day program called The Dharma Zone. It is intended to help readers find their true self and purpose while minimizing outside distractions. To compliment her program, Alanna has recorded twenty-one meditations to coincide with each day of her program. The AM Meditations set is available on CD and by download on iTunes, Amazon and iAmplify.

With a flare for style, Alanna is the owner and designer for the premium lifestyle brand, AZIAM Active Wear. Beyond her accomplishments as an instructor, performer, program director, writer, and designer, Alanna is a creative force and a teacher with a passion for organic living. She has been featured in Self, Fitness, People, InStyle, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Details, C – California Lifestyle and Yoga Fit magazines, as well as having been featured in several yoga/fitness productions.

Helping Opportunity Knock

By Lisa McCue Janusz and Carole Hyder

We all want opportunity to “knock”, particularly when it comes to our professional lives. Whether we’re looking for a new job, seeking a promotion, or just want to breathe some enthusiasm into our day-to-day routine, new opportunities provide a welcome fresh perspective.

Some people seem to attract opportunities more easily than others. You might wonder how you can do the same. The answer lies in a basic principle of Feng Shui: your space reflects your life.

As Feng Shui consultants we’ve seen clients working at cluttered desks, sitting in moldy unfinished basements or even scraping around on old office chairs missing a roller or two. Many valuable hours are spent working in these less-than-desirable environments. Is that supportive? Motivating?

Here are some excellent Feng Shui tips to attract new opportunities into your own life:

• Be sure to invite opportunities by using your front door, even if you have an attached garage. This helps get energy moving. Try to use it at least a couple of times a week. For added effect, try entering and exiting your home through your front door nine days in a row.

• Make sure your house greets your visitors, as well as opportunities. Create a welcoming front path and a noticeable front door. Make sure your doorbell works and that your house numbers are easily seen.

• Your office should reflect your professional goals. Get a solid desk and a chair with a high back to support you.

• Make sure your office reflects your goals and desired career destination. A person on a corporate executive path will have a more traditional office, while an interior designer will likely include more creativity and flair in their space.

• Think of two or three well-known people in your industry. Search out or imagine what their offices might look like. (Pinterest is great for this kind of thing!) Then add a few elements from their environment into yours.

Whatever you do, never underestimate the power of your surroundings. We all know it just feels different to sit in a leather executive chair at a nice wood desk versus a folding chair and card table. It changes your attitude, your outlook and the kind of opportunities you attract!

About Lisa McCue Janusz & Carole Hyder:
Lisa McCue Janusz is faculty and registrar, and Carole Hyder is the founder of Wind & Water School of Feng Shui. Wind & Water School of Feng Shui offers beginning to advanced Feng Shui classes including a comprehensive, certified training program.

Crafting Calm

I love books that inspire and Maggie Oman Shannon’s “Crafting Calm: Projects and Practices for Creativity and Contemplation” does just that. And we’re talking truth in advertising, her book is divided up in to craft projects accessible to crafters of all levels that are designed to facilitate: calm, clarity, comfort, contemplation, creation, community, connection with others, and spirit.

By the time I was done reading “Crafting Calm” I had a handful of projects bookmarked that anyone could do, even me! There’s making personal prayer flags from crafting for clarity where you use things like placemats and a strong crafter’s glue for heavy beads and the like. There’s creating rock cairns from crafting for contemplation. The idea of taking some of my stones and minerals and stacking them meaningfully never occurred to me. Really! Then there are portable shrines from crafting for comfort.

I was particularly taken with Shannon’s description of a tiny matchbox style portable shrine that is often used in Central and South American countries. She bought one at an import store that was covered in bright fabric and had a small seal on it that read “Emergency Kit”. Inside was a “worry doll”, a red seed, and a clay angel pendant. The label glued to the bottom of the box read, “There are moments in which you need a peaceful vibe, a touch of good luck, and someone to tell your worries to. Use this emergency kit to balance those tough moments! An angel for peaceful thoughts, a Lucky Bean, and a Worry Doll.”

Shannon goes on to describe several simple ways you could make your own using Altoid tins or matchboxes. Some paint and some glue, a few bits and baubles that many have around the house and you’re well on your way. Well, I’m not a craft person. (Actually, I am and would love to be but I lack the time, space, and funds to indulge that part of myself.) However, I am a magical dabbler and one does not play in the occult without gathering up a box or two of portable shrine worthy odds and ends.

I decided to make a portable shrine focused on prosperity. I first found a piece of quartz, because in my opinion clear quartz makes everything better. Also, clear quartz is good for prosperity. I had a “wish stone” kicking around. It’s a smooth stone with the word “create” on it. I thought it would be a good addition because it would remind me and the universe to work to “create” prosperity. Lastly, I added some play cash, just to kind of spell out in clear, bold, text to the universe that we’re talking financial prosperity. Yes universe, CASHY MONEY! I didn’t have any tins or boxes, but if you’re a new age shopper like me you probably have multiple little velvet bags. So everything is in a royal purple velvet bag.

Not quite what the author intended, but I couldn't help but dive in!

This is how good “Crafting Calm” by Maggie Oman Shannon is; I couldn’t help but dive right in and create something after reading it! I hope to try more soon!

Confident Creating

By Eric Maisel

If you want to live a creative life and make your mark in some competitive art field like writing, film-making, the visual arts, or music, and if at the same time you want to live an emotionally healthy life full of love and satisfaction, you need an intimate understanding of certain key ideas and how they relate to the creative process.

One key idea is that you must act confidently whether or not you feel confident. You need to manifest confidence in every stage of the creative process if you want to get your creative work accomplished. Here’s what confidence looks like throughout the creative process.

Stage 1. Wishing

‘Wishing’ is a pre-contemplation stage where you haven’t really decided that you intend to create. You dabble at making art, you don’t find your efforts very satisfying, and you don’t feel that you go deep all that often. The confidence that you need to manifest during this stage of the process is the confidence that you are equal to the rigors of creating. If you don’t confidently accept the reality of process and the reality of difficulty you may never really get started.

Stage 2. Incubation/Contemplation

During this second stage of the process you need to be able to remain open to what wants to come rather than defensively settling on a first idea or an easy idea. The task is remaining open and not settling for something that relieves your anxiety and your discomfort. The confidence needed here is the confidence to stay open.

Stage 3. Choosing Your Next Subject

Choosing is a crucial part of the creative process. At some point you need the confidence to say, “I am ready to work on this.” You need the confidence to name a project clearly (even if that naming is “Now I go to the blank canvas without a pre-conceived idea and just start”), to commit to it, and to make sure that you aren’t leaking confidence even as you choose this project.

Stage 4. Starting Your Work

When you start a new creative work you start with certain ideas for the work, certain hopes and enthusiasms, certain doubts and fears – that is, you start with an array of thoughts and feelings, some positive and some negative. The confidence you need at that moment is the confidence that you can weather all those thoughts and feelings and the confidence to go into the unknown.

Stage 5. Working

Once you are actually working on your creative project, you enter into the long process of fits and starts, ups and downs, excellent moments and terrible moments – the gamut of human experiences that attach to real work. For this stage you need the confidence that you can deal with your own doubts and resistances and the confidence that you can handle whatever the work throws at you.

Stage 6. Completing

At some point you will be near completing the work. It is often hard to complete what we start because then we are obliged to appraise it, learn if it is good or bad, deal with the rigors of showing and selling, and so on. The confidence required during this stage is the confidence to weather the very ideas of appraisal, criticism, rejection, disappointment and everything else that we fear may be coming once we announce that the work is done.

Stage 7. Showing

A time comes when we are obliged to show our work. The confidence needed here is not only the confidence to weather the ideas of appraisal, criticism, and rejection but the confidence to weather the reality of appraisal, criticism, and rejection. Like so many other manifestations of confidence, the basic confidence here sounds like “Bring it on!” You are agreeing to let the world do its thing and announcing that you can survive any blows that the world delivers.

Stage 8. Selling

A confident seller can negotiate, think on her feet, make pitches and presentations, advocate for her work, explain why her work is wanted, and so on. You don’t have to be over-confident, exuberant, over the top – you simply need to get yourself to the place of being a calmly confident seller, someone who first makes a thing and then sells it in a business-like manner.

Stage 9: New Incubation and Contemplation

While you are showing and selling your completed works you are also incubating and contemplating new projects and starting the process all over again. The confidence required here is the confident belief that you have more good ideas in you. You want to confidently assert that you have plenty more to say and plenty more to do – even if you don’t know what that “something” is quite yet.

Stage 10: Simultaneous and Shifting States and Stages

I’ve made the creative process sound rather neat and linear and usually it is anything but. Often we are stalled on one thing, contemplating another thing, trying to sell a third thing, and so on. The confidence needed throughout the process is the quiet, confident belief that you can stay organized, successfully handle all of the thoughts and feelings going on inside of you, get your work done, and manage everything. This is a juggler’s confidence—it is you announcing, “You bet that I can keep all of these balls in the air!”

Manifest confidence throughout the creative process. Failing to manifest confidence at any stage will stall the process. It isn’t easy living the artist’s life: the work is taxing, the shadows of your personality interfere, and the art marketplace if fiercely competitive. If you learn some key ideas, for instance that you must act confidently whether or not you feel confident, you give yourself the best chance possible for a productive and rewarding life in the arts.

About Eric Maisel:
Eric Maisel is the author of “Making Your Creative Mark” and twenty other creativity titles including “Mastering Creative Anxiety”, “Brainstorm”, “Creativity for Life”, and “Coaching the Artist Within”. America’s foremost creativity coach, he is widely known as a creativity expert who coaches individuals and trains creativity coaches through workshops and keynotes nationally and internationally. He has blogs on the Huffington Post and Psychology Today and writes a column for Professional Artist Magazine. Visit him online at http://www.ericmaisel.com.

Adapted from the new book “Making Your Creative Mark” ©2013 by Eric Maisel. Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com

Get a Grip on Your Mind

By Eric Maisel

Creating depends on having a mind quiet enough to allow ideas to bubble up. Living a successful, healthy life as an artist requires that your self-talk align with your goals and your aspirations. Your job is to quiet your mind and extinguish negative self-talk. These are your two most important tasks if you want a shot at your best life in the arts. Here are some handy tips:

1. Recognize that you are the only one who can get a grip on your mind. There is no pill to take. There is no one to consult. There is nothing to read. You must mind your mind. You can let your thoughts do whatever they want and go off in any direction, or you can say, “No, that thought doesn’t serve me.” Only you can do that work.

2. Recognize that you do not have to accept, tolerate, or countenance a thought just because you thought it. You may have the thought, “Wow, John really made me angry at work today!” Then it is your choice whether to brood about John or whether to get on with your novel. It may be easier to brood about John than to write your novel, so you may have powerful reasons to stay angry. It’s your choice.

When we say something to ourselves like “My novel stinks” or “I won’t play well tonight,” we believe that thought just because we thought it. But many of our thoughts are simply not true, and even if they are true, they may not serve us.

3. Listen to what you say to yourself. If you can’t hear your own thoughts, you can’t get rid of the ones that aren’t serving you. If you can’t admit to yourself that you are constantly thinking that life is a cheat, that you’ve badly disappointed yourself by wasting so much time, or that you hate to be criticized, you won’t be able to dispute and extinguish those thoughts. Yes, it can be extremely painful to admit to them, but it is better to grapple with them than to let them cycle endlessly.

4. Decide if what you are telling yourself serves you. You are not looking at the truth or falsity of a thought but rather at whether the thought is or isn’t serving you. Countless true thoughts do not serve us. All the following may be true thoughts that nevertheless do not serve you to think: “I might have written ten books by now”; “Writing a novel is hard”; “Selling a novel is hard”; “I’m not sure I have it in me either to write a novel or to sell a novel.” None of those thoughts, even if true, serve you. The only thought that serves you, if you want to write a novel, is “I am off to my novel!”

5. When you decide that a thought doesn’t serve you, dispute it and dismiss it. It can seem very strange at first to dispute your own thoughts. Yet dispute them you must. Get in the habit of saying to yourself, “That was an interesting thought. Does it serve me?” If you know or suspect that it doesn’t, dismiss it out of hand. Do not linger over it! This sounds like “That thought doesn’t serve me and I am dismissing it!” Mean it when you say it!

6. When a thought that doesn’t serve you lingers, actively combat it. Some thoughts just won’t go away. Maybe it’s “No one wanted my first novel, and my second novel is an even more difficult sell, so why in heaven’s name am I writing it?” You may not be able to get rid of this thought simply by snapping your fingers. Then do more than snap your fingers — fight the thought tooth and nail. Maybe you’ll have to write out the ten reasons why this book may be wanted. Maybe you’ll have to chat seriously with yourself about self-publishing. You must battle brooding, clinging, disabling thoughts — or else you will be thinking them regularly.

7. After you’ve disputed and dismissed a thought, think a thought that does serve you. Creating thought substitutes is an important part of the process. These substitutes can be tailored to the situation, or they can be simple global affirmations that you create once and use over and over again, such as “I’m perfectly fine,” “Back to work,” “Right here, right now,” or “Process.” Because for so many of us the default way of thinking is negative, self-critical, and injurious, we want to create and use thought substitutes that help prevent our brain from conjuring up its usual distortions and distractions.

8. Get in the smart habit of extinguishing unproductive self-talk even before it arises. Often we know when a thought is coming. Maybe you’ve been waiting to hear from an editor who said she would call on Tuesday, and now it’s Friday. You know that if she doesn’t call today, you are certain to begin thinking thoughts like “She’s never going to call,” “She’s about to reject my work,” and “I can’t stand all this waiting.” You know these thoughts are coming. So extinguish them now and replace them with “I’m spending the weekend working on my new pet project! And I won’t think about that editor until Monday!” How many times have you known that a thought that doesn’t serve you is coming and let yourself think it anyway? It’s time to stop doing that.

9. Engage in active cognitive support. This means creating the thoughts that you want to be thinking and then thinking them. These thoughts might include all of the following: “I paint every single morning”; “I’m going to succeed”; “I know how to make meaning”; “I’m lavishing my love and attention on my current painting”; “I’m not afraid of process”; “I show up”; “I take the risks that I need to take, with my work and in the marketplace”; “I am creating a body of work”; “I am a painter.” You can think thoughts like these if you choose to think them.

You may never have thought about the possibility of getting a grip on your mind. I hope that you’ll seriously consider it now.

About Eric Maisel:
Eric Maisel is the author of “Making Your Creative Mark” and twenty other creativity titles including “Mastering Creative Anxiety”, “Brainstorm”, “Creativity for Life”, and “Coaching the Artist Within”. America’s foremost creativity coach, he is widely known as a creativity expert who coaches individuals and trains creativity coaches through workshops and keynotes nationally and internationally. He has blogs on the Huffington Post and Psychology Today and writes a column for Professional Artist Magazine. Visit him online at http://www.ericmaisel.com.

Excerpted from the new book “Making Your Creative Mark” ©2013 by Eric Maisel. Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com