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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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

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