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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How to Access the Power of Love to Realize Your Dreams

How to Access the Power of Love to Realize Your Dreams

In this post, I share with you how to access the deepest power in the universe, the power of love, so that you can draw upon this limitless power to help you realize your dreams.

This is the fourth post in a series on Enthusiasm vs. Willpower in reaching your heart’s dreams. If you missed the last post, you can read it here. In it, I offered you a radical invitation to help you connect to heart, passion, delight and fulfillment in your life. I also introduced you to the Inner Taskmaster and the Rebel, both of whom can sabotage your dreams.

In discussing the Taskmaster in my last post, I talked about the unhealthy kind of willpower and how it really doesn’t help us reach what we long for in our lives. Today, we begin with a healthy kind of inner power.

Accessing the Power of the Mother Bear

photo by matthias-goetzke on unsplash

The second kind of willpower is that of the mother saving her child. This will is unstoppable. We all know better than to get between a mother bear protecting her cubs, because no force is stronger than that love.

This is the kind of will we want to access on the path to living our heart’s dreams:  Our powerful, passionate, unstoppable love for what we long to be, do and have, our fierce commitment to it.

This is a force that can move mountains, including the mountains of our own fear, doubt and resistance.

Connect to Your Deep Why

So, how do you access that kind of will?

You dive down to the core of your love and longing for your dream, the heart of your passion for it. You become deeply connected to what that dream gives you, what it will give you, what you love and enjoy about it, what it can give to others, how it connects to values that you hold dear.

You get very clear on what I call the Deep Why of the dream. How does it serve you, others, our world?

Then, you keep reconnecting to that why, that love and vision, as long as they remain true for you. You keep recommitting to your dream from that place of love.

Call up your fierce, powerful love for your art, your dreams, for the power of art itself and what it gives our world, how it changes lives. Let that be the source of your willpower to act day after day in a manner congruent with your dreams.

A Little Will and a Lot of Love

photo by craig whitehead on unsplash

So, yes, a little will is involved. It can serve you well on the path of dreams, when used properly. You may have to draw on 30 seconds of willpower every single day to get yourself into your studio and begin creating.

But deeper than will for me is the love of creating, the passion for art. Being clear in knowing what creating gives to my life and knowing what is lacking without it. And having a strong, inspiring vision of where I am headed in my life.

Vision, love, joy—these are unbelievably powerful on the path of dreams.

If you are not feeling them for your dreams, you may have the wrong dream. Or you may need help clearing past hurts, fears and doubts that keep your passion and enthusiasm at bay. If you lack inspired vision for your life, you may need some expert help uncovering it and uncovering what keeps you from it. (Check out my creative life coaching here.)

Please cultivate a little will too, your core of inner strength, that mother bear love, and persistence.

Cultivate commitment, that shining bridge. (If you missed the post on the shining bridge of commitment, you can read it here.)

But, commit only to that which you truly love, desire and value, that which inspires you and lights you up. No shoulds here. When you waver or forget or lose your way, simply recommit if the dream is still alive for you.

Dream big, but set yourself small, reachable goals toward your heart’s big dreams. (See my post on The Power of Small Bites).

Commit to those goals. Succeed at them.

In this way, you can move mountains and realize your great dreams—for yourself and for our world.

The Deeper Power Behind Everything

Love is the deeper power behind both enthusiasm and willpower. Behind willpower is devotion, which is love. Behind enthusiasm is passion, which is love.

Notice how everything comes from Love. Love is the deepest power on earth. Nothing is stronger or greater than this.

Loving what you do, being passionate about it, being lit up by it, being engaged with and curious about it. Taking joy and delight in it. These are so essential. If they are persistently lacking, I would strongly suggest you choose a new dream.

Give Yourself to Love

photo by eye for ebony on unsplash

If you can consistently return to love and draw on love to power your art and your dreams, nothing can stop you.

The realization of your dreams may not look how you first imagined, but what you arrive at will amaze you.

Your life will be immeasurably enriched by walking the path of Love. And so will the lives of everyone you meet, as well as many others you never meet.

Far greater than will, greater than enthusiasm, greater than discipline, commitment or passion, greater than inspiration is love.

Love will carry the day. Love will see you through.

So, draw on it. Call on it. Connect with it. Express it.

Dare to love in all you do. Find what you most love and do it, be it, give it, live it.

To your powerful love,

Maxima

P.S. One act of love you can take now is to share this post with someone who might benefit. You can use the share buttons below.

Do Exactly (and Only) What You Want

Do Exactly (and Only) What You Want

In this post, I give you radical permission to do what you want! How will that help you reach your big life dreams? Read on!

I share with you about the Inner Taskmaster and the Inner Rebel and how they both sabotage your dreams. I start the conversation about two different kinds of willpower and which one will help you.

And best of all, I give you a radical, delicious assignment that will help you live guided by heart, so that you can create a gorgeous, joyful, soulful, fulfilling life.

This is the third in a series of posts on Enthusiasm vs. Willpower as we walk our heart path toward our dreams. To read the second post called The Shining Bridge to Reach Your Dreams, click here. To read the first post called Enthusiasm vs. Willpower: Surprising New Discoveries, click here.

Ok, let’s dive in!

Two Kinds of Will

There are two kinds of will, and they are very different. They come from different places within us and have vastly different effects on us and our lives.

The first kind of will is the taskmaster or drill sergeant.

Most of us have an internalized drill sergeant or taskmaster. This part of you is not your friend or ally. Many people think they need the taskmaster to get things done, stay healthy, exercise, eat right, write their book, accomplish anything meaningful. This is the first place they turn to within when trying to get themselves to do something. And it’s a mistake.

Many people rely on this inner taskmaster, and at the same time fight against it, their whole lives, falling on and off the wagon of whatever program they have set for themselves. And feeling terrible about it.

“If only I could be more disciplined,” they believe. And so, they renew their efforts yet again, and fail again, lowering their opinion of themselves once more, as well as their hope for the future.

They continue this cycle, despite the fact that it is not working, because it is all they know to do.

When I work with people on unleashing their creativity and living their heart’s dreams, I often have to begin by helping them send the inner taskmaster on a one-way ticket to the Bahamas.

The Taskmaster and the Rebel

The taskmaster always conjures our inner rebel. No one likes to be pushed around. When pushed, we push back.

Young man dancing in the street

photo by Andre Hunter

So, the rebel comes to our defense when the taskmaster is ordering us around.

The rebel does not want to do anything the taskmaster says and will sabotage its efforts, making us do the opposite, wake up later than we intended, stay up too late watching movies, get on the internet when we intended to be painting. . .

If you understand that the rebel always accompanies the taskmaster, you will understand and have more compassion for your own cycles of hard work and conscientious effort toward your dreams and goals and then goofing off, letting every distraction and passing pleasure come in the way of those dreams and goals.

What If You Only Do What You Want?

I often give my students the radical assignment to do only what they feel like doing for three weeks (or much longer!)—no shoulds or have to’s, no self-betterment programs, routines or healthy habits, unless they truly want to do it. (Note: This does not include if you have a job you need to go to or kids to take care of, but does include anything and everything else that you put upon yourself as a must or should.)

Try it!

This practice helps put our hearts, our love and joy, our curiosity, passion and self-kindness back in the driver’s seat. And it can lead us back to doing our creative play from genuine love, desire and enthusiasm.

Be patient with this assignment. If you have been ordering yourself around with your taskmaster for years, it may takes months of letting yourself lie on the couch and read trashy novels before an honest desire to do something else can be felt and followed. The time spent will be well worth the result.

If you are patient enough to let yourself do only what you really want, you will be surprised and amazed at how clearly your own loves, passions, desires, interests and gifts begin to show themselves. And how easy it is to do them.

How I Healed Myself

woman basking in sunflowers

by Jake Young

I did this practice of only doing what I wanted (outside of work hours) for months after I dropped out of graduate school in music.

I was at sea in my life, having lost my clear direction and my ability to create music with love and joy. I had no idea what to do next. I was afraid if I did not keep driving myself with that fierce inner taskmaster who had gotten me to accomplish so much for so long, all I would do is lie around eating bon-bons.

Strangely, that is not what happened.

I did lie on the couch a lot, reading. And I went to a lot of art movies.

But, I was reading poetry and novels, translating poems for fun, reading the dictionary to learn new words and the etymology of words, writing in my journal, writing poems, seeing amazing films, going for long walks, going to literary events.

And still, I thought I was doing nothing, until a friend pointed out how consistently I was focused on writing, story-telling, words, art. That is what I was choosing to do. I couldn’t even see it. I thought I was just lazing around.

If You Have a Strong Inner Taskmaster 

So, the first kind of willpower is the taskmaster. And it is an unhealthy and unsustainable kind of willpower that will have us cycling between striving and exhaustion, between accomplishment and disappointing ourselves. And all the time we will be being mean to ourselves.

If you are familiar with this kind of willpower, I urge you to try the experiment to do only what you truly want to do for a month.

See what it shows you about your real inclinations, desires, passions, pleasures. See what you learn about being with yourself in a wholly new way, a loving and compassionate and open-minded way. See what you learn about your own cycles of energy and how to ride those waves instead of fighting them.

If, on the other hand, you have a stronger inner rebel than taskmaster, then you may already indulge in your passing whims and surface-level desires but rarely touch something deeper or stick with anything. You flit around and change course constantly. You find it hard to stay with any program, project or routine.

If that sounds like you, you particularly need the second kind of will, which I’ll share in my next post.

We all need this second kind of will to reach our dreams. Stay tuned!

To your true heart’s desires,

Maxima

Create An Inspired Year From Heart Not From Should

Just two days left in this year before we enter the new! Will you take time to lay the foundation for an inspired year ahead?

To support you in this, I feel moved to send you this from the archives:
My post on Harvesting the Old, Dreaming the New.

In it, I share my process for gleaning the gifts of the outgoing year, clearing space for the new, and tuning into the dreaming of the new year in you. So you can create an inspired year from your heart instead of from a tiring list of shoulds.

It’s so valuable to make time and space for this now.

In this way:

  • You learn from and honor what has gone before.
  • You clear anything that would hold you back and prepare the garden bed for the flowering to come.
  • And you align yourself with your own heart and soul wisdom to guide you in creating your new year.

    So that it comes from heart and not from your fear-based mind or sense of lack.

You tap true inspiration and vision, which is there just waiting for you to get quiet enough to hear it. And courageous enough to follow it.

So you can live into your own magnificence and joy and contentment. So you can be the gift you are to this world.

I invite you to read this post to inspire you to take time for this process. Please don’t feel it all has to happen this weekend. I often take all of January to complete this harvesting and visioning process.

Give it the time it needs, but attend to it. Give it care. Make space for it in your life.

You’ll notice how different your year feels when it’s guided by and stays connected to this heart vision.

Maxima KahnIf you would like support in this process, I would be honored and delighted to do this sacred play with you in my one-on-one Creative Life Coaching & Creativity Mentoring.

I’ll guide you to walk your heart path, follow your soul, and uncover deep inspiration, vision and clarity for the coming year and beyond.

I’ll teach you simple, effective tools for centering your life around what you most love and value, what lights you up and empowers you to share your gifts with the world.

You can still get 40% off if you email me by January 1 to schedule a complimentary Discovery Session by phone to explore if this is right for you.

To your soulful, inspired year,

Maxima

The Shining Bridge to Reach Your Dreams

The Shining Bridge to Reach Your Dreams

Here is what I have discovered. There is a shining bridge between willpower and enthusiasm: Commitment.

Commitment is a tool we all need in order to realize big dreams, visions and aspirations for ourselves and our world.

Yet, commitment, is often misunderstood. In today’s post I will clear up some misconceptions and show you how to connect with your own commitment.

[This is the 2nd installment in a series on Enthusiasm vs. Willpower and how to realize your life dreams. If you missed the first post, you can read it here.]

Scottish mountaineer W. H. Murray said:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: ‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.’ Begin it now.”

Commitment, once made, must be repeatedly renewed in the heart through the power of re-committing.

The Most Powerful Tool on the Path to Our Dreams

Woman on top of mountain

by Ruthie Martin

Recommitting is probably the most essential tool on the path to realizing our dreams.

On the path to our big dreams, we will encounter many setbacks, disappointments and challenges. We will meet our own resistance and faltering self-belief. We will get thrown off by unexpected life events and unanticipated challenges, by enticing distractions and the allure of comfort.

It is completely normal to fall off along the path to our dreams. It’s what we do next that matters.

Recommitting gives us a way to get back on the proverbial horse and ultimately realize the fulfillment of our great aspirations.

Commitment Must Come From the Heart

If we attempt to be committed to a dream, a project, a relationship, from the mind alone, our commitment will be dull and hard to maintain. To be a true commitment, it must arise naturally, without force, from the love in our heart.

The paradox of commitment is this: We cannot manufacture true commitment in the mind. But we can and must be conscious of our commitments and renew them consciously. We must make a conscious choice to recommit to that which matters to us, to our highest aspirations and deepest values.

We do this by reconnecting to our love for that person, place, dream. We reconnect to our vision for it, what it means to us, what it gives to us and others, and/or what it can give.

In reconnecting to our vision, love, and what has meaning for us, our commitment naturally rekindles.

Accessing a New Kind of Will

From this heart-centered commitment and conscious choice, we can then access the energy of will in a positive way to help us move past resistance, discomfort, doubt and fear and actually take the next step on our path of dreams—whether that next step is picking up a paintbrush, going to the gym, or calling a prospective agent.

Once reconnected to vision and love, to our deep why, our will is energized and not forceful. We know why we are doing what we long to do, and we are motivated from a deeper place than just thinking we should do it.

Then, we aren’t beating ourselves up to do it. We don’t have to battle ourselves and be at war with ourselves, which is stressful, exhausting and doesn’t work. Instead, we use the positive energy of commitment to empower us to take another step in the direction of our dreams.

by Luis Davila

And, we use 30-second bursts of will to move past the initial resistance every creative person feels before beginning to create or do anything difficult and meaningful.

We use will to set clear, helpful boundaries that protect our creative time, space and energy.

We use commitment to pick ourselves up after a disappointment and continue on our path of dreams.

But that will and commitment come from love.

In my next post, I’ll talk about two different types of will and also about the inner taskmaster and the rebel. And I’ll give you a radical assignment I think you will love.

Stay tuned!

To your dreams,
Maxima

P.S. Remember, if you sign up in December for soul-based creativity coaching with me you get 40% off my regular rates. Save $300 and give yourself this profound gift to help you create your bold, beautiful visions now. Find out more here.

P.P.S. Help create a more beautiful world by sharing this post with a friend. You can use the share buttons below.

Enthusiasm vs. Willpower: Surprising New Discoveries

Enthusiasm vs. Willpower: Surprising New Discoveries

Maxima age 3 with dollhouse

Maxima at age 3 playing

You have a dream to write, paint, dance, sing, build a house, start a business, travel the world. Do you use willpower to get you there, or do you rely on the energy of enthusiasm to realize your dreams?

Perhaps you think enthusiasm is shallow and limited, comes and goes, and you will have to resort to willpower. Perhaps you feel you have no willpower or it always fails you.

For years I argued for enthusiasm vs. willpower. I am coming to appreciate now that we need both, but I have made several important discoveries about this:

  • The vital bridge between willpower and enthusiasm.
  • The two kinds of willpower—one is a disaster and the other a boon.
  • And most essential of all, the deeper power that moves worlds.

Enthusiasm Comes From the Gods

“Nothing great was every achieved without enthusiasm.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

In my work helping artists and dreamers to realize their dreams, I have maintained that willpower is a weak force, especially as compared to enthusiasm. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron has a compelling essay encouraging artists to draw on enthusiasm instead of discipline.

Enthusiasm (from the Greek roots for “the God within,” or as Cameron translates it, “filled with God”) is an extraordinary power that naturally inspires and motivates you in any project, activity, or life dream.

When we are filled with inspiration and passion for our art, we don’t have to force ourselves into the studio. In fact, almost nothing can keep us out of it.

When filled with enthusiasm, we are unstoppable. We are also magnetic to support from others towards our dreams because enthusiasm is contagious.

Willpower Is Weak

Willpower, on the other hand, as anyone who has attempted to overcome an addiction can tell you, is weak. When not backed up by a deeper motivation, vision and love, willpower quickly loses steam. That is because it usually comes from ego, not from heart.

Many of us fall into the trap of see-sawing between trying to enforce a military discipline on ourselves and then falling off the wagon and beating ourselves up mercilessly for it. Take note: This only ensures another repetitive cycle of the same.

This use of will is destructive, an attempt to bully ourselves into doing what we say we want to do, instead of loving ourselves into it.

Cultivating self-kindness creates a soil from which all manner of good and fruitful things can grow.

Anything built on a foundation of self-violence, rather than self-kindness, contains the seeds of its own ruin and our own ruin. So, let me be clear, this is not the kind of willpower I encourage you to use.

But, There Is a Time and Place for Will

I have recently come to appreciate that we need a little willpower, as well as enthusiasm, to reach  our dreams.

Those without any willpower struggle mightily to realize their big life dreams.

The key is to be in right relationship with our will.

Otherwise, we end up in repeating cycles of striving and exhausting ourselves, of accomplishment and burnout, of progress and collapse. Sound familiar?

Will without enthusiasm is dry, hard and loveless, making our work joyless and dull, a drudgery at best, incredibly difficult at worst.

On the other hand, enthusiasm without any willpower can peter out, having us jump from project to project, never completing anything, having too many interests at once, always distracted by the next shiny object.

As a person who has always had a tremendously strong will and a lot of ambition and discipline, it was easy for me to overlook the important role these qualities play in being able to realize our dreams.

Passion Led Us Here

by Ian Schneider

You do need some willpower, especially when the thing you want to do (sing, write, make films. . . ) conjures up fear, past hurt, self-doubt.

Or when you have to take a step towards your dreams that is uncomfortable in order to make the time and energy to engage with your art, such as get up a half hour earlier or step out on a stage in front of an audience.

Or when you need to move past an addiction, such as staying up too late watching TV or reading Facebook compulsively or listening to the news before beginning to create in the morning (bad plan!).

Willpower alone will not get you over these hurdles, but you’ll need a little burst of it.

30 Seconds of Willpower to Realize Your Dreams

You need some will to overcome inertia, fear, bad habits, resistance. In most cases, you only need short bursts of will, 30 seconds at a time is enough. Just enough to overcome the temptation in front of you and get yourself into the studio or to bed on time so you’ll have energy to go into your studio the next day.

But you will need these short bursts daily.

If you think you don’t have any willpower, that is just an old lie you have told yourself. We all have inner strength.

playing saxophone

by Jens Thekkeveettil

If it were a matter of life or death (which doing what you love is), you would find the motivation. If I told you that you would be dead in a week unless you create every day for an hour, you would move mountains to make it happen.

That is will, but it is deeper than the inner taskmaster (who is not your friend or ally). The will energy I’m talking about here draws on a love for your life, and that love is powerful.

Both willpower and enthusiasm come and go. But there is a shining link between those energies that lasts.

In my next post, I’ll share with you what that magic power is that is vital to reaching your dreams. I’ll also share what’s behind it that is the power that moves worlds.

Stay tuned!

To your dreams,
Maxima

P.S. If you would like expert soul support in creating a life of passion, purpose and deep play, sign up for coaching with me. Get 40% off my regular rate when you sign up in December 2017 (for new clients). Two steps you can take now:
1. Find out more about my coaching here.
2. Email me here to set up a free Discovery Session and explore if this is right for you now.

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Gifts of Gratitude

Gifts of Gratitude

This Thursday in the United States is Thanksgiving Day. Wherever you are in the world, every day is a good day to practice gratitude and appreciation.

Why Gratitude?

Gratitude is the gateway to true abundance of all kinds.

Gratitude is a magic power that invites blessings to flow to us. But more importantly, it opens us to the blessings and abundance we already enjoy—to the more than enough that is here now.

Gratitude deepens our enjoyment of those blessings.

Gratitude opens our hearts, brings us joy, helps us slow down and taste our lives richly, and attracts abundance of all kinds, whether love, friendship, prosperity, health or other blessings. A grateful person is magnetic to good.

I invite you to spend some time in real gratitude this Thanksgiving.

A Gratitude Practice

Spend time writing in your journal, or at your altar, focusing on what you are grateful for and why.

Don’t just make a list, but tune into the feeling of gratitude or appreciation and be specific about what is you love, appreciate, are grateful for about those things.

Write a love letter to those things and feel the grace of gratitude blessing you.

I Am Grateful For You!

Today I want you to know how very grateful I am for you.

woman painting outsideI am grateful to share this tribe of creative souls with you. I am grateful you are walking your heart path, that you care about soul, beauty, creativity, art.

I am grateful that you dare to dream and follow your dreams. I am grateful for your beautiful, sensitive heart and your questing, vibrant spirit.

I am grateful that you read my Creative Sparks posts and partake in my offerings, that you care for your own creativity, unique gifts, vital soul.

I am honored and grateful to share this journey with you. Thank you!

Gifts of Gratitude for You

As my way of saying thank you, I have a few gifts for you today.

I wrote a short piece called 3 WILDLY HELPFUL TOOLS TO SUPPORT YOUR CREATIVE LIFE which was published on a site called The Artist Unleashed last week.

I have another Autumn poem, California Fall, to share with you.

One of the most beautiful pieces on gratitude I’ve ever experienced is this gorgeous, moving 5-minute video by Brother David Steindl-Rast. Watch it here, so yummy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Zl9puhwiyw

May you be grateful. May you feel blessed.

 

 

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How do I find my authentic voice?

How do I find my authentic voice?

How do I find my most authentic voice? Many writers and artists ask this question. Yet, perhaps there really isn’t just one voice.

Questions of voice trouble writers and artists throughout their creative lives, as each creative project may ask for a new voice, a new expression, and as we grow in our creative desires and pursuits.

In my own writing I am grappling with questions of voice these days. I thought I’d share what’s coming up for me.

The Questions That Won’t Let Me Be

How can I merge the voice of the poet, mystic, priestess, firekeeper in me, the daring, inventive artist who loves brilliance, dazzle and leaps of imagination, with the voice of the teacher, guide, muse, friend I have used so often in this Creative Sparks blog/e-news?

How can I speak from all of who I am here and all of what I have to share—my questions and my answers, my fear and my courage, my doubt and my faith?

How do I honor the mystery, the not knowing, that fertile darkness I love so much? Could I write from not knowing instead of from authority and would anyone want to hear? Can you be an “author” without “authority”?

Can I write from the mystery and be met there?

Where are the sisters and brothers of soul who long for poetry, magic, spell-casting and how do I find them?

What if I no longer tried to prove, persuade, convince, be liked, be acceptable? What if I no longer sought to please or to hide or be so darn useful? In my poems I don’t do any of this.

The Voice of My Poems vs. The Voice of Creative Sparks

In my poems (and poetic essays) I write from the deepest parts of myself and my connection with Life. I write the truest words I know. I write the most beautiful, eloquent, finely-crafted words I can find to meet what I am writing about. I work to make a piece of art. In my poems I am challenging, raw, metaphorical, mystical, imaginative, and most of all, lyrical. 

But something different happens when I sit down to impart some knowledge or experience that I believe to be helpful in these Creative Sparks essays. My focus is on clarity, helpfulness, brevity, a certain simplicity, inspiration, encouragement. My focus is on you.

Now I begin to question that voice as I seek to find a voice that is closer to my poet self, closer to home, and yet still in service to what I perceive the needs and desires of my readers here to be. Creative Sparks is a different endeavor than my poems, so the voices will never be identical. Even in my poems, there are different voices. Yet. . .

Can I share my poetry, artistry and self more and still be in service to the “how” and “why” and “what” of the creative life, the path of heart, the process of bringing our heart’s dreams to life?

The Sanctuary of a Notebook

writing in journal

by miller mountain man c 123rf

I sit in my studio on a rainy morning and write in my notebook, one of so many I have filled over the years. My notebooks are sanctuary, a place of wholeness and welcome where I can say and be anything.

In my notebooks I stand in the open space and try on my hats, my selves, my wounds and wholeness, my fear and rage and wisdom. And I don’t have to shelter or protect, hide or dumb down, any of it. I can scream and cry, rend my clothes, be crazy, wild, dance on the page. I can be messy, be brilliant, experiment, fail, succeed gloriously.

And when I’m done, I close the covers on a privacy absolute, unless I choose to share from it. This is profound sanity and blessing for me. In the sacred aloneness of my notebooks I find release, healing, self-knowing, wisdom, beauty, freedom, grace.

How can I share more of that with you? Honoring my privacy yet also willing to show up whole and multi-dimensional, shadow and light, complex and real.

My Questions For You

Would you want to read that?

This essay is an example of bringing my poet self more to the fore and I’ve been experimenting with that some lately here. It is written more from that place of heart, honesty, vulnerability, lyricism.

Is it welcome? Do you want more of this?

  • What is it you are longing for, most hungry for, most in need of as a reader?
  • What do you come to Creative Sparks for?
  • What do you desire more or less of?
  • What have you enjoyed most, found most valuable in my posts?

I’d really love to hear because this is all new for me and quite vulnerable. Would you post your responses here, or if you are too shy to do that, email me?

To your own true voice,

Maxima

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