Why It’s Important to Follow Your Dreams

Why It’s Important to Follow Your Dreams

What Are dreams? Why Do They Matter?

Each of us, like a flower or tree, is encoded with who we are meant to be, what we are here to give, our unique beauty and gifts.

Each of us is encoded with dreams, desires, longings and visions that are here to lead us to the life that is meant for us, the life that will bring the most fulfillment, joy, meaning and connection, aliveness.

That path is not arbitrary and neither are the dreams you carry.

Dreams, as I speak of them here, are the visions and yearnings of our heart and soul that call us to our largest life, the lessons and growth we need on our path, the giving of our gifts, the realization of our greatness.

When you follow your dreams, it not only transforms your life, it transforms our world.

However, that is not what we have been told much of the time. We have been told to be practical and reasonable, to follow the status quo, to want what society tells us to want, to settle for good enough, to listen to our minds not our hearts.

Or perhaps we have been told, “You can be or have anything you set your mind to,” rather than being guided to discover the life that is already in our souls.

This leaves us feeling confused and unhappy, even if on the outside it looks like we have a good life.

The Cost of Not Following Your Dreams

So, it is vitally important to listen to your heart’s and soul’s dreams. They are your guidestar, your roadmap to a brilliant, beautiful life. When you ignore them, you feel dispirited, depressed, out of sorts and unfulfilled.

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” —from The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels

Your unique gifts, the callings of your soul, when not brought forth will gnaw at you and harm you.

“How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumors and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip, and compulsive cell-phone use, simply because we don’t do that thing that our hearts, our inner genius, is calling us to?” —Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

It doesn’t just cost your happiness, health and well-being to ignore your dreams, it is extremely costly for our world.

We need you to be the person you came here to be, to shine in the fullness of your brilliance, to believe in the beauty of your dreams. Our world is in a dire condition because of lack of connection to the heart and because people are not finding and using their gifts.

Young man dancing in the street

photo by Andre Hunter

The Power of Following Your Dreams

When Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream,” he spelled out that dream in beautiful, compelling terms. It was a bold dream, a vision way beyond the world he found himself in at the time. Yet he committed his life to help bring that dream about. Because of his daring to dream, the civil rights movement made significant, vital strides toward a more just society. And many people have been inspired to continue his vision.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” —Howard Thurman, author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader

It is not for yourself alone that you dare to dream and follow your dreams, it is for the huge impact that has on others, on the world around you, even on those you never see or meet. One person following their dreams is tremendously inspiring and enlivening to others, and activates the dreams in them.

“The presence of a vital person vitalizes.” —Joseph Campbell

You Need Help to Follow Your Dreams

Dreaming takes courage. When you choose to follow your dreams, you comeup against what holds you back in many areas of your life. You will encounter your false beliefs, bad habits and illusory limitations.

And so our dreams lead us on our path of growth. They lead us to transform what has been keeping us small and dissatisfied.

That is why we need support when we start to dream big. By big I simply mean outside of what we currently believe is possible for us—whether that is finding true love or sailing around the world, healing your body or starting a charitable foundation, writing a book or becoming a rock star. We are designed to need the support of others to manifest our dreams. We are interdependent beings that thrive in connection.

two friends walking together on railroad tracks

photo by Jonathan Pendelton on Unsplash

The larger the dream, the more support we need. A big dream needs a dream team of mentors, friends, helpers and allies to support us on our heart path. You cannot do this alone.

So, dreams in the sense I talk about them are not our night-time dreams but the dreams of our hearts and souls.

The dreams I am talking about are essential to who we are, essential to our happiness and well-being, essential to our world.

If you wish to live a fulfilled and joyful life, you need to listen to your heart. You need to follow your dreams, even if they seem impossible or absurd from where you are standing now.

If you wish to give your gifts and help create a beautiful world for all, it is time to believe in yourself and follow your dreams. Take action toward those dreams.

Start now.

Next Steps

To read more about how to follow your dreams and your path of heart, check out:

How to Access the Power of Love to Realize Your Dreams

The Shining Bridge to Reach Your Dreams

To get support on your path of dreams, check out: Creative Life Coaching

Entering the Word Temple of Poetry

Entering the Word Temple of Poetry

The Chinese character for poetry is made up of two parts, “word” and “temple.”*

Let us enter the sacred word temple of poetry. Let us be housed by holy words.

What makes a poem holy?

The care it took to select each word like a stone, carve it to a perfect fit with other word-stones.

The mastery to shape phrases, images, metaphors that strike, move, tantalize, challenge, even confound.

The precision to stack these carved words into a poem, so that it stands as a singular temple.

The attention to calculate the architecture of the poem—its line breaks, line lengths, stanza breaks, form, its flow through the rooms—“stanza” means room in Italian. To hollow out with words a hallowed space.

In all this care and careful craft, we are invited into sanctuary, the breathing presence, awe.

Each poem that is made with true care is a word temple, a temple made of words and a temple to language, expression, communication, art.

Poetry invites our wonder, deep feeling, delight, recognition, pain.

Poetry gifts us with beauty, the grace of a carefully-made thing, unique expression, honesty, reflection. It gifts us with art, and that is, or at least can be, sacred.

Let us enter the word temple of poetry.

Let us approach the poem with reverence, inner quiet, our senses alert for the Presence of the Beyond.

In some poems we may be disappointed, as in some churches, we are left without a feeling of the Sacred. But let us come with that hope and yearning with which we approach God or a sacred grove.

Let us let ourselves be permeated by the poem, each cell absorbing the words, images, sounds, feelings, ideas.

Let us let ourselves be wounded by poetry and also healed, approaching with such open hearts, minds and bodies that we can be pierced by the poem’s clear seeing and deep feeling.

We can be upset by its provocations. We can be lifted by its hot-air-balloon joy or rent open by its pure grief. We can be dissolved by its truth.

Let us enter the word temple of poetry and worship there together.

To your poetic heart,

Maxima

*I learned this inspiring fact from Copper Canyon Press, a leading publisher of exceptional poetry in the United States, whose logo is the Chinese character for poetry.

P.S. If you liked this post, please share it.

P.P.S. If you would like to engage in one-on-one mentorship with me to craft extraordinary poems or other writing/creations of your own, my creativity mentoring may be for you. In April, for National Poetry Month, I’m offering 20% off on my mentoring packages.

 

To read more about poetry and writing, check out these posts: Scenes from the Past: A Creativity Prompt and Give Voice to Your Own Astonishment

The One Thing You Need for a Prolific Creative Life

The One Thing You Need for a Prolific Creative Life

Is there one thing that makes the difference between a happy, prolific creative life and a frustrating one filled with fits and starts? In this post, I answer this and how it can change your whole life, not just your creativity.

About a week ago, I went to a wonderful literary event in my town.

One of my goals for myself as a writer is to attend at least one literary event every month.

Writing is an introverted art form, so this goal helps to get me out of the house and involved in the literary community. It also provides inspiration.

Hint: Make a simple goal to support yourself in having creative community and regular doses of inspiration.

Every two months YubaLit hosts a reading that features a mix of local and non-local authors, reading from works that range from fiction to poetry to memoir. In addition, anyone who attends the reading may put their name in a hat for a chance to read a single page or poem. Five writers get this opportunity at each event.

The quality is exceptionally high, the format engaging, the evenings always lively. I have been to most of the readings since the series got its start a couple of years ago.

The event I recently attended was a book launch for Sands Hall’s remarkable memoir, Flunk. Start.: Reclaiming My Decade Lost to Scientology. Her book is absolutely riveting, warm, compassionate, both painful and uplifting. I am devouring it. You can get it at your local bookstore or at Powells.com (which is an independent bookstore and therefore way better than Amazon.)

Something happened at the reading that I had to share with you.

Is There Just One Thing?

At the event I met Don Rogers, the publisher of The Union, our local newspaper. As I told him about my work as a teacher and creativity coach, he asked me if there was one thing that it all boils down to in terms of fostering the creative process and reaching our creative aspirations.

I replied, “There isn’t just one thing, but if there were, it would be routines.”

There is nothing more central to a vibrant, fulfilling creative life than having a regular creative practice.

If you read about the lives of prolific artists in all disciplines, you will be amazed at how they almost all talk about their creative routines. Sometimes these involve elaborate and arcane rituals, sometimes simple and prosaic. But, all of these artists adhere to their routines with a combination of religious devotion and the ferocity of a mother bear protecting her cub.

I do the same.

Four days a week from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. I am in my studio, writing, reading, revising, researching, sending out work. When I have more time, I spend more time, but those hours are sacrosanct. I don’t schedule meetings, doctor’s appointments or phone calls during that time.

writer at work

photo by Matthew Lejune on Unsplash

If You Show Up, Your Muse Will Too

Artists who are consistently creative almost all adhere to a regular schedule of times during which they create. They don’t wait for inspiration to show up. They show up and inspiration comes. Not every time, but they learn to work when they are not feeling inspired also.

They don’t wait for their lives to settle down, or to have the perfect space, or for the to do list to be completed (it never will be), or even for the most urgent items on that list to be crossed off.

Prolific artists—artists who are actually making art—make their art their priority and show up unfailingly.

Most of all, they don’t wait until they feel like making art, because we will always put things in the way of making art. We will always want to stall and make excuses.

Our Art Brings Up Resistance

Art demands that we show up fully, that we are vulnerable and real, that we risk and challenge ourselves in ways that much of our daily lives don’t require. Making art is one of the hardest—as well as the most fun and rewarding—things we can do. Because it’s hard and it’s risky, we resist it.

If there is one thing that makes the difference in feeling fulfilled in your creativity, and therefore in your life, it is having a regular creative practice.

The students I work with who resist routines are also the ones that struggle with bursts of inspiration followed by dry spells and doubts. They are the ones who feel they can’t get control of their time or their lives. They can’t stay focused or bring things to completion.

The ones who have a regular creative practice generally come to our sessions excited, glowing, feeling on purpose in their lives. And they get to see things come to fruition.

When We Make Time for Art, Life Feels Better

The reason they are glowing is they are making time for what they love, what lights them up. Doing that radically changes how we feel about our whole lives. It changes how we move through our day.

You need to find a routine that works for you, your way of creating, your schedule, your energy.

If you are struggling with that, please know: There is nothing wrong with you! This is incredibly common among artists.

You may need some wise suggestions around how to find and stick to a creative habit that works for you. You probably need to learn tools to move through resistance, fears and blocks to creating. Both of these can require some skilled facilitation.

But most of all you need to commit with your whole heart to a plan of when you will create each week, not allowing anything to come in the way.

Then, the magic begins!

To your prolific creativity,

Maxima

P.S. If you would love to develop a creative habit that feels wonderfully exciting, if you would love to see your creative aspirations come to life, contact me for a free Discovery Session to explore how my Creativity Mentoring can change your life.

You may also want to read my posts on The Power of Creative Routines and The Power of Ritual.

Celebrating the Spring Equinox

Celebrating the Spring Equinox

Today is the Spring Equinox or Vernal Equinox, the turning point to the season of Springtime in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Spring equinox turns us to new beginnings, new shoots coming up out of the earth, new budding things. Life begins anew.

It is a time of rebirth, balance, pause and planting seeds.

Here where I live in the Northern Sierra Nevada in California it has been cold, overcast, days of rain mixed with snow and hail. We’ve had more winter in the past month than the rest of the season. After a gorgeous “false spring” in early February, the new buds are held back, plants drooping from cold and snows.

But the camellias are blooming, the grape hyacinth crops up everywhere in the garden, undaunted. Forsythia begins to bud. Tulips have sent out their shoots of green.

Today we pause in honor of spring, the new season.

Today the day and night are of equal length all over the earth, a balance point. From now until the autumnal equinox, the days begin to grow longer and warmer.

Questions to Help You Plant Seeds for the Coming Season

Here are some questions to help you pause and celebrate this special time that in the astrological calendar is considered the first day of a new year. I invite you journal on these questions:

What needs re-balancing in you now?

For me, it is time to welcome more play and delight. To balance work and play better. More in attitude than in what I’m actually doing. Less push, pressure, stress, more easeful creative play and fun. Because creating things is my favorite form of play—whether in writing, dance, music or collage.

Yes, I know I’m supposed to be the “Empress of Play,” but I need reminding too from time to time. Lately, I’ve been very focused on goals and doing. It’s time to relax and play, enjoy, more.

Seeds

by Steve Richey

What seeds are you planting now to come to fruition through the spring and summer into the autumn harvest?

I’m planting seeds of writing and strewing these seeds everywhere I can, sharing my work through this blog, my newsletter, Medium, sending poems and essays to literary journals and online publications, seeking guest blogging opportunities, sending my poetry manuscript to presses.

Looking to a harvest of more readers, more sharing. Growth in both my art and readership.

I’m planting seeds to grow my creative community too. If you don’t know what I mean by that, read my e-book The Six Essential Ingredients of a Brilliant Life to find out.

How will you nourish these seeds and yourself in the coming months?

What steps will you take to further your heart’s dreams?

How will you care for yourself in body, heart, soul, mind, feeding these aspects of yourself what they need to flourish?

Here’s what I’m doing: Every week I take action towards my heart’s dreams, in fact nearly daily.

This summer I am planning a vacation of fun, inspiration and adventure with my beloved—whew, looking forward to that!

I also read voraciously and widely to keep myself inspired.

And I have daily self-care routines for the health of body, mind, heart, spirit, what I call The Hour of Flowering, one of the tools I teach to my coaching clients.

May this season of spring bring a blossoming of your creativity, your gifts, your dreams, your joy!

Maxima

P.S. If you would like support, expert guidance and powerful tools to clear the blocks and create the life you desire, contact me for a free Discovery Session to explore how Creative Life Coaching could change your life.

Seeking Your Heart’s Guidance

Seeking Your Heart’s Guidance

A simple but powerful exercise to help you hear your heart’s guidance. 

Your heart is here to guide you to your best life. Not the easiest, but the best. The fullest expression of you. The richest, most beautiful, rewarding life.

Your heart has answers your mind could never devise. Astonishing in their wisdom, rightness and simplicity.

But how do you hear the voice of your heart? How do you access that guidance?

Here is a process to cultivate connection to the wisdom of heart.

1) Set the scene

Find a place and time where you will not be disturbed. Turn off your phone (really) and close your computer. Have a notebook and pen or pencil. Light a candle or sit somewhere beautiful in nature.

2) Open the flow

This step is preparation, to get your controlling mind out of the way, to open inside. You aren’t yet seeking any guidance. You are clearing the channels to receive guidance.

Grant yourself full permission to write anything at all without judging, doubting, or expecting anything of it. Write for two full pages without pausing to think or edit, starting from the words “In this moment…”.

Write whatever comes, whatever you think, feel, notice around you or in you. Just keep the pen moving the whole time, without pausing, even if you think it is nonsense.

3) Make a request

writing heart's guidanceNow, write a short paragraph to your heart, asking for its guidance and promising to listen.

You may ask about a specific challenge or situation, or you might just ask, “Oh my heart, what do I need to know, be, or do now?” or something general like “How can I live a more joyful life?”

Make a promise to set aside doubt, second-guessing, or your mind trying to figure things out and control the process.

4) Write your heart’s guidance

Drawing on the feeling of freewriting that you did in step 2, simply relax and let the pen flow, writing whatever answers seem to come from your heart.

Keep your promise to yourself not to judge, doubt, second-guess, analyze or edit the answers while you write. That will stop the flow. You can use your wisdom later to discern what feels right or to interpret it.

If your heart tells you anything you feel you cannot do or do not understand, ask follow-up questions. Express your feelings and concerns. Dialogue with your heart about them.

5) Take action

If it feels true and right—even if it also feels scary, hard or silly—follow your heart’s guidance, taking action on what you were told. Keep the faith with your heart by not ignoring its precious wisdom.

What steps will you take? What changes will you make? How will you act in accordance with the guidance you received?

Keeping the Channel Open

magical heart path

by JR Korpa on Unsplash

If you ask for guidance, receive it and then ignore it, you close down your connection to this most valuable inner resource. And your life will feel out of balance.

If, on the other hand, you learn to discern what your own heart voice sounds like, what it feels like when it is speaking to you, you will strengthen your access to this guide within.

Learn how your own heart speaks to you—which may be in images, sensations, impressions or emotions, more than words. Learn to trust and follow the guidance. See what happens as you do.

As you refine your ability to hear your true heart guidance, as you cultivate your deep trust in it, your willingness to follow it into the challenging, scary and wondrous places it is leading you, you will begin to create a life of extraordinary richness and beauty for yourself and for our world.

We want our souls to be fed in the heart’s great pool. Sit with your pen and wait. Sit. Listen. There, it is whispering. There, formless but real. Like wind.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy: Cultivating Intuition and A Return to Heart and also What I Know.

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Happy Year of the Earth Dog!

Happy Year of the Earth Dog!

This past week we had a new moon (and partial solar eclipse) that ushered in the Chinese new year.

We have departed the year of the fire rooster (or phoenix) and entered the year of the earth dog.

What does this mean for us?

Justice, Truth and Integrity

Astrologer Susan Levitt writes: “This new Moon is a solar eclipse, so what is hidden can come to light this year. Under the influence of vigilant Dog, the truth is sniffed out, and integrity is rewarded.

The good news continues:
“Dog year is a time of fairness and equality. Controversial issues are given their due, revolutions are successful, politics are liberal, and political oppression is opposed. Justice and honesty are the values that lead to success during Dog year.”

To read more, including to find out how the dog year affects your personal Chinese astrological sign, read here: https://susanlevitt.com/astrology/dog-year-2018/

Loyalty, honesty, integrity, trustworthiness are dog qualities. The dog is noble and good. While earth brings such aspects as stable, practical, grounded and reliable.

A New Vision for Our World

The element of earth and the year of the dog only come together once every 60 years. The last time this occurred was 1958.

According to karmaweather.com, the year of the earth dog can provide a re-visioning of our human lives and systems, and the underdog will demand to be heard.

Health and Wealth

The Year of the Earth Dog 2018 is an excellent time for lifestyle changes, particularly related to adopting new healthy habits.

It could be an auspicious year for finances and starting new business ventures, but be careful to be practical, grounded and not extravagant in spending.

Take Action

dog on beach

by Tao Jones, Unsplash

Both Chinese and Western astrology agree this is an ideal year to get into action towards what you desire to create with your life. In a dog year it is particularly important to align those desires with the greater good of humanity and life on Earth.

How are you serving others?

I had to share this last bit of good news (from https://lighthousefengshui.com/2018-predictions/):

“Due to a very strong wood element, those pursuing activities having to do with literature, art, business, and efforts of an inspirational nature will be favored.”

So, go forth and create, take action toward your dreams, and join with others in serving a higher purpose. To your fulfilling year,

Maxima

P.S. If you’d like help getting into action to create what you love, I offer one-on-one Coaching and Mentoring.

P.P.S. If you enjoyed this post, take a moment to let me know. Post a comment here or share this with a friend.

Instead of Big Goals, Try Small Experiments

Instead of Big Goals, Try Small Experiments

If you tend to start big dreams, ambitious goals or new projects and resolutions and then peter out, here’s something to try that can be a whole lot more fun and fulfilling.

I’m a big dreamer. I love working and playing towards grand visions and big dreams for my life.

I’m a Sagittarian, so my arrow is always aimed at some distant target. I feel energized by having big visions to guide my life. Bold, outrageous dreams inspire me. And I’ve realized some amazing dreams in my life.

But I’m also a huge fan of small experiments and bite-sized intentions or goals.

I love these for (at least) two reasons:

  • Bite-sized goals are the best way to have huge dreams actually come true.
  • Small experiments allow me to try on and accomplish things over a short period of time and to learn valuable new information.

New Moon Intentions and 30-Day Goals

I love playing with New Moon Intentions or 30-Day Goals. These are a great way to conduct small experiments and divide big dreams into do-able steps.

New moon by Nousnou Iwasaki

The cycle of a month or moon cycle is a perfect length for many experiments, intentions and small projects. It’s long enough to try something on or complete a small project, but short enough to keep your attention on it and see the end in sight.

Some of my students prefer 30-day goals, because it’s easier for them to track things by the month, starting a new goal, experiment or intention on the first of the month.

I prefer to start on the new moon because I like to align myself with the natural rhythms of the universe, to be connected to and supported by these rhythms. The new moon is an excellent time for undertaking new projects, as people have known for centuries.

Find out more about drawing on the power of the moon (and 30-day goals too!) here.

At the new moon I tune into my heart and soul and see what naturally arises as calling for my attention, what inspires me, what I’m longing for or drawn to, and/or what has the most energy right now. I trust what comes.

Sometimes it’s a concrete goal like sending poems to five magazines or getting my taxes done. Sometimes it’s an intention like cultivating gratitude and appreciation. A good small experiment is specific, clear and do-able: for example, playing my violin for ten minutes a day five days a week.

Smaller (and Slightly Larger) Experiments 

Some creative experiments lend themselves to even shorter or slightly longer time frames.

You may decide to do something every day for one week. Or you may commit to a program for three months.

Regardless of the length of the experiment, the process is essentially the same.

How To Conduct Your Small Experiments

Aiming at the target

by Annie Spratt, Unsplash

To play with a new goal, intention or small experiment, there are a few simple steps to follow:

  1. Name it clearly in a single sentence as an “I” statement. Here’s a recent example of one of mine “I complete my vision-mapping for the new year, guided by sacred wisdom and heart.” It helps if the language is inviting and compelling to you. Also be clear on the time frame of your experiment, when it starts and ends.
  2. Write it down and post it where you’ll see it daily.
  3. Commit to it 100%.
  4. Read your statement daily.
  5. Take steps toward it daily or weekly.
  6. Track the steps you take by marking it off on a calendar, keeping a log or giving yourself stickers. You could get yourself a cool Steal Like an Artist wall calendar here.
  7. At the end of the time frame, celebrate and reflect on how it went, so you can learn, honor and grow.

Read more about cultivating a new healthy habit in 30 days here.

What’s So Great About Small Experiments?

Small experiments are energizing and can be fun. You get to see real progress.

You also don’t feel trapped into doing something for the rest of your life, which is often a recipe for failure because it’s too daunting.

Small experiments are more honest and do-able. They pique my curiosity without feeling overwhelming. They empower me to try things on that I might not do otherwise.

Pretend You Are a Scientist

I like to approach small experiments with the attitude of a curious scientist.

I take the approach that it is truly an experiment. I’m learning. I am free to stop at the end of the agreed-upon time period, but I commit to conducting the experiment fully until then.

And I track my results in some way.

One Small Experiment I Tried

A few months ago I decided to experiment with doing the Tibetan Five Rites. These are a set of fairly simple exercises that build flexibility and core strength. They are said to promote longevity, youthfulness and health. In fact, the claims made about the benefits of doing these exercises daily are huge.

I had dabbled with doing these exercises off and on for years, but I was never consistent. At the best times I would do them a few times a week. I never noticed any noteworthy changes.

So, I decided to conduct a small experiment. The book about these rites claims that many people see marked changes after doing these exercises for just one month. I committed to doing them every day for a month.

Here’s What Happened

When I started out I had huge resistance to doing the exercises. I had to push myself to start them every day. I didn’t like doing them while I was doing them either. They felt hard and not fun. The first exercise, which involves spinning, made me dizzy and nauseous.

But I figured the resistance would diminish as I did them daily. It didn’t. It never got easier or more enjoyable.

I managed to do them 24 of the 30 days. One day I was traveling all day. A couple days I forgot. I probably just flaked the other 3 days. But 24 out of 30 is pretty good.

The striking thing was: There were no noticeable change in health or youthfulness, nor in enjoyment nor ease of doing the exercises.

What I Learned

These exercises aren’t for me.

It was a great relief to discover this. I’d always felt bad about not doing them more. Now I know I’m not missing out. I like to do sun salutations and other yoga. I love to dance and take walks. And these all give me great benefits.

I also learned that it was hard to be flawless with doing exercise every single day for 30 days, so the following month my small experiment was…

25 walks in 30 days

woman walking in wilds

by Michelle Spencer, Unsplash

I was thrilled from the moment I set this intention. I loved doing it, even when I had to squeeze in a 10-minute walk in the dark at the end of the day.

I hope this inspires you to try your own small experiments. They can be in any area of your life—creativity, relationships, health, home, etc.

What small experiment will you take on for the next 30 days?

Share in the comments below to give it extra power.

If you need help figuring out a good small experiment, post in the comments below what it is you are wanting to focus on, cultivate or do. I will give you a suggestion of a good small experiment to try.

To your fun and fulfilling life,

Maxima

We Need the Voices of All the Artists

We Need the Voices of All the Artists

“We need the voices of all the poets,” Robert Duncan wrote. This has long been a credo of mine.

Yet, I have to remind myself of it. Especially when I’m feeling “not good enough” as a poet.

At times like those, I can start to feel “What’s the use? Who needs my poems anyway?” There are so many poets writing today and too few readers. It can feel overwhelming and hopeless.

When we are feeling this way, we have lost sight of a vital truth, a truth we may not have been told when we were young, but one that is essential to living ongoing, joyful, creative lives:

by Elena Ray on Unsplash

Your Artistic Voice Is Unique

You have something to say. Your voice, perspective and experience are unique. There has never been another you in all of time. You have unique gifts that the world needs. You have something of value to share. Or you wouldn’t be here.

You wouldn’t have an urge to write or paint or dance, if someone didn’t need what you are creating. Or if we didn’t need the self you will become through the act of creating. Because creating transforms us in powerful ways.

You Still Have to Work to Refine Your Art

Just because you are unique and needed here doesn’t mean you can be lazy about your art.

Man drawing

by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

You owe it to your art and your audience to hone your work to its finest expression. To play hard at it. To not be self-satisfied with half-measures and sloppiness. To wrestle with your art. To stretch and challenge yourself. To study and learn.

Devote yourself to the deep study of your craft, the work of other artists, the history of your art form. Work with teachers, mentors and peers to refine your technique and expression.

I believe in working devotedly at your chosen art form, if you wish to share your work with others beyond a few friends and family.

If you wish to develop as an artist, then you are choosing to serve not only yourself and your own ambitions, but a larger purpose, to serve your people, to serve Life, to serve the Divine.

You are agreeing to step beyond mere “self-expression” and your own desires into a greater realm of service, surrender, mystery.

Welcome. You have chosen a great path, or rather it has chosen you.

That path will challenge you and ask much of you. Some days it will bring you to your knees in despair, doubt or disappointment. It will also grace you with support, synchronicities and blessings.

Creative Hobbies Are Also Wonderful

Don’t get me wrong: The act of creation is meant to be divine play, not joyless, nose-to-the-grindstone work.

Allowing ourselves to have creative hobbies, for which we have no ambition, but simply allow ourselves to play, to create for the joy of creating, is an enormously healthy, wonderful gift to ourselves and our world.

Creative play makes us happier, sweeter, more alive people. It brings more fun and grace to our lives. It makes us more adaptable, responsive and imaginative. These are all great goods. Worthy in and of themselves.

So let yourself make messes, experiment and just play with art too. Let yourself dabble in art forms you don’t wish to master.

Go Forth and Create!

Whatever road you choose, to simply play and have fun (as I do with collage) or to devote yourself to an art form in service to a higher calling (as I do with poetry and writing), bless you.

We need the voices of all the artists.

To your abundant creativity,

Maxima

Get Back On The Horse: Dealing with Setbacks on the Artistic Path

Get Back On The Horse: Dealing with Setbacks on the Artistic Path

I “finished” a collection of my poems last summer after eight years of working on it, off and on, most recently with the help of professional editors. At that point I committed to sending it to four publication contests or open reading periods a month until I find a publisher.

The Path to Publication

books on shelf

by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash

For a poetry book, especially a first book, publication contests and open reading periods (which are really a kind of contest) are the main path to publication. This is a time-consuming, highly competitive and slow process.

The first step is research.

Make a list of presses with upcoming deadlines (On PW.org the Small Presses and Contests and Awards databases are great).

Research which of those presses seems like a good match for your poetry.

Send your manuscript out! Submitting a manuscript typically costs $25-30 per submission. In other words, I’m currently spending upwards of $100 plus quite a few hours each month to do meet my goal.

Why Not Self-Publish?

Poetry is not like non-fiction. With non-fiction, self-publishing can be a great route to take.

With poetry, if you are happy to sell or give your book to friends, family and people who attend your readings, self-publishing is great. However, if you want to reach a large audience and garner recognition, as I do, you need a reputable press.

Dealing With Rejection

I started sending to four presses per month back in July. Usually it takes 4-6 months to hear back.

Recently, I have started to receive “rejections.” At first this didn’t matter, because the presses I was hearing from weren’t at the top of my list. I know it’s a long process, there’s a ton of good poets out there, and it’s all a matter of time.

More recently I started hearing from contests and presses I really wanted to be chosen by. They chose someone else’s book. This is hard. I get sad and doubt creeps in.

The Antidote to Disappointment

by Luis Davila

The antidote is to “get back on the horse,” which is what you are taught to do in horse-back riding when a horse throws you.

I get back to writing new poems, revising recent poems, and sending out my beloved book to more contests. Having it out there in the world in many places gives me hope and keeps my hand in the game. Doing new writing keeps me connected to my love of the form and the spark of creativity.

And something has changed in me. I feel genuinely glad for the winners. I know they’ve been working as hard as I have and how much it means to each of us. I feel envy too, sometimes painfully, but it feels good to be happy for them.

Now It’s Your Turn

If you’ve had a set-back of any kind: from receiving criticism, not getting accepted into a show, publication or program you wanted, attending a workshop or conference that discouraged you, or comparing yourself negatively, get back on the horse.

Start making art for the love of it. Do it as often as you can. Reconnecting to the joy of art-making is the best antidote there is. And you’ll be improving as an artist at the same time.

When you’re up for it, send your work out into the world. Send it to a whole bunch of places, large and small. It’s only a matter of time until it will find its way.

One way to magnetize your creativity is to be kind and generous to other artists. You can do an act of kindness now by sharing this post, using the buttons below. Thank you!

 

Dreaming Your Year: A Recipe for Soulful Living

Dreaming Your Year: A Recipe for Soulful Living

At the start of each year, I speak about tuning into the dreaming of the year ahead, dreaming your year from heart and soul.

Why?

So that you can co-create an inspired, soulful, enriching trip around the sun. Not just blown about by the winds of habit and happenstance. But guided by deep vision, inspiration and heart.

It’s Never Too Late

I want you to know it’s not too late to do this. I often take all of January to complete this dreaming step-by-step.

A friend recently said to me, “But then you lose a whole month of the year!” That’s the old paradigm, in which time is scarce, and we have to rush and push to our goals. Where nothing is ever enough and we’re always behind. That’s not how I want to live.

Dreaming your year is a priceless process of listening to your own heart and to the heartsong of the world. Like anything worthwhile, that doesn’t want to be rushed.

Also, you can do it anytime. You could do it in July for the year ahead that starts from there.

But…

How Do You Dream Your Year?

Tuning into the dreaming of the year: What does that look like, feel like?

Start by dropping the shoulds, have-tos, anxieties, dropping the constant craving demands of the small self, to open a vast space within.

Seeds

by Steve Richey

Open to the fertile void, the womb of creation from which all life comes. The dark soil of earth which harbors already the seeds of new life waiting to push forth into the light and grow and blossom and bear fruit.

Get quiet and allow yourself to rest in the gap between the end of the old and the start of the new. Drop into that spacious dark in which the soul can fly free.

Listen patiently for the still small voice within. Not rushing to answers. Not trying to figure it out with the mind. Not trying to fill the void or control the process.

Listening, waiting, opening, feeling, resting, trusting, quiet, receptive.

Ask for vision. Put forth a prayer, an invitation for your heart and soul to speak, for Life itself to speak to you and call you forth. Express your willingness to be of service to something larger and wilder than your small self.

Ask for vision, open to receive.

Then, attend to any sensations, images, words, emotions, impressions that come. Take notes. You may also wish to dance or draw this vision.

Some Fertile Questions

  • What are the seeds of this coming year that are already planted in me?
    What is Life dreaming that desires to be born through me?
  • How do I most wish to feel?
  • What do I desire to embody? How do I want to show up in my life?
  • What is calling to my heart and soul? What needs or yearnings are calling to be filled?
  • What would bring me the most delight, joy? What would inspire me most?
  • What practices, passions, activities, adventures are calling to me?

Listen to the Deeper Currents

by Nicholas Han

Tune into the deeper currents moving you. Listen to these more than to your fears, doubts, your sense of lack.

You’ll find your life begins to flow in beautiful, extraordinary ways. Support and miracles will appear. Not that there won’t also be challenges. These are part of the path of our heart.

This dreaming through you is the Tao, the way of life. When we align ourselves with the Tao, we feel a sense of flow. When we resist or ignore the Tao, we struggle, hit obstacles, often get sick or depressed.

Let yourself dream without rushing to any concern about the how of those dreams. (That will kill a dream that is trying to be born.) Simply let yourself envision the what, however it wants to come to you now, even if you have no idea how it could possibly come about.

Zooming In and Focusing

♥ Is there a word or theme of the year that beckons to you?

Rather than choosing from what your mind wants or thinks sounds good, be patient and let your word or theme arrive in its own time from your soul. This might take days or weeks.

Write your word or theme on an index card and post it where you will see it.

♥ Is there a Breakthrough Dream you want to name for this coming year?

A Breakthrough Dream is something that, if you focus on, complete or realize it this year, would make the biggest positive difference in your life. It is the one that most calls to you now, even if it also brings fear or doubt. (Fear and doubt are often a good sign. Just set these aside for now, if they arise, so that you can freely dream.)

Write your Breakthrough Dream on an index card too.

Put It Into Existence

Once you’ve allowed the vision of the year to come to you, it’s time to do some gentle mapping of the how, to put it into existence in time.

Name some steps you will take to support your dreams. Put some milestones in your year and/or schedule things in your calendar that are important to you.

Divide big dreams and desires into small steps and put them in time. Be willing to try things, to risk.

Be sure your dreams and desires are aligned with what matters most to you, what you most care about, what brings you joy. Because the “small stuff” fades. Life is not an endless self-improvement project, but a treasure to be lived fully and beautifully.

Take It Deeper, Make It Real

woman on a swing at sunset

by Tom Wang

If you would like to be guided through a deep, rich process of dreaming your year from heart, I would be honored to guide you on that soulful journey.

I’ll help you connect with your true vision, your heart-felt dreams and soul callings. You’ll get clear and inspired.

We’ll look at 12 different domains of your life to see what you most desire to co-create for yourself and others.

And we’ll create an inspiring, do-able map that you can follow through the year to lead you to your inspired, fulfilling life.

I’m offering a special Vision-Mapping Your Year package during the month of January only.

Sign up by January 31, 2018 for a series of 6 sessions for only $585 (regularly $750). You’ll receive my focused support, magical tools, guided meditations, handouts and fun activities. But best of all, you’ll be living guided by your own wondrous heart.

I only have room in my schedule to play with a few people in this way. If this calls to your heart, sign up now.

Sign up now or find out more: send me an email here.

To read more of my posts about creating your year from inspired, heart-centered vision, check out: https://brilliantplayground.com/harvesting-and-dreaming/ 

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