Just Say No to Distractions to Create a Life You Love

Just Say No to Distractions to Create a Life You Love

I have been on a roll lately, getting things done that are important to me. Taking on my big dreams and big projects, the ones that have been languishing, being avoided, or moving so slowly.

To move forward in a concerted way toward what matters most to me, toward co-creating what I long for in my life, one thing has been paramount: saying no to distractions.

This requires, first and foremost, making choices, choosing what matters most now, creating an order of priorities. And then, focusing on just a few things, focusing on completions.

I’ve been gaining greater clarity as I go.

And that means letting other wonderful, valid, even loved things go for now. Saying no to distractions. Being vigilant about staying on track.

As scary or difficult as some of my dreams can feel, as challenging or triggering as some of the steps I need to take are, the feeling of momentum, relief, and release is wonderful. Freeing, enlivening.

Are You Distractable?

I don’t think of myself as a person who is easily distracted. Once I am engaged in a task, I don’t like to be interrupted. I can hold a laser-like focus, especially when creating art or working on a project.

But we live in a culture of constant distraction. And we are all affected by it, unless you live without technology. Our attention-based economy means that things are grabbing for our attention nearly all the time in the most pernicious ways.

Our cell phones, computers, and tablets are specifically designed to distract us and pull us in a thousand directions. Social media, advertising, and the news all do this too.

The effect of these on our ability to focus and stay focused on any activity, conversation, train of thought, or feeling is devastating. Especially if you wish to live a life of heart, a fulfilling, inspired, soulful, artful life.

In other words, it’s not just you who is struggling with this.

How to Say No to Distractions

The antidote, or at least a key antidote, is saying no to distractions.

Long ago I turned off all notifications on my devices—all beeps, boops, boings, buzzes, and banners—except for phone calls and text messages. And I don’t keep my phone in the room where I create or work.

I’m a big fan of the Do Not Disturb setting on the phone, but nothing beats putting the phone where you cannot see it or reach it. I have to walk into another room to answer the phone or texts. Usually, if I’m working, I ignore it.

I do my best to say no to heading off on unrelated tangents while in the middle of a project. To not suddenly switch gears, get thrown by an open tab on the computer, an email, or a thought zinging through my mind. (I don’t always succeed at this.)

I’m certainly not able to stop myself from opening six tabs on my computer during the day. But most days, I close them all down in the evening, whether or not I looked at them. I may jot down notes of things I truly want to follow up on. This is better than leaving the tabs open. It gives me more choice about when to follow up and fewer distractions facing me at the start of a new day.

Don’t Keep Piling More on Your Plate

Once I choose my top priorities for the month or week or day, I watch out for piling more things on my plate. We cannot plan everything in our lives and I wouldn’t want to. I allow for flexibility and new inspiration. But the key is to choose consciously.

When I chose to take a demanding and time-consuming course in support of my Breakthrough Dream in 2021, I found myself considering an unrelated class on essay writing and another that would feed my spiritual growth at the same time.

Until I realized, while standing in the shower (an excellent place to think because it’s so free of distractions): I need to keep my time and energy focused on the one class for the next two months. Adding more would only make my life stressful, cause me to get less from the class I signed up for, and keep me from making the progress I desire on my biggest dreams.

Your Turn: Will You Say No to Distractions?

I invite you to ask yourself:

What are your top 3 priorities for the next 3 months? What matters most? What would feel the best to complete? What would bring you the most joy or satisfaction?

And then, what distractions can you say no to in order to make more time (and inner space and inspiration) for what you love and desire?

Write these down and make a clear commitment. What distractions will you eliminate? What supports will you put in place to help you do this?

Pay attention to when you get distracted during the day and gently pause, refocus, and come back to where you really wish to put your energy.

Healthy (and Unhealthy) Distractions

Saying no to distractions that keep you from doing what you love and long to do, or what most needs doing, isn’t the same as taking breaks to rest, replenish, and revitalize. These are vital.

The difference for me between a healthy break and a distraction looks like taking a five-minute dance break or nature break during my work day vs. checking my phone. Or spending time reading or napping vs. scrolling through the news or social media.

You’ll know the difference for yourself because unhealthy distractions leave you feeling depleted, overwhelmed, unfocused, or unmotivated. They keep you from what matters most to you.

Healthy breaks revitalize you, give you fresh energy and focus, and bring in doses of inspiration.

It’s good to get up from our projects periodically to stretch, have a glass of water, look around, step outside. It’s good to take in new inspiration and experiences.

But here’s where it gets tricky: Some distractions, even though they may be lovely or have positive aspects, if they don’t feed your dreams and priorities right now, are still distractions.

Let them go. There may be time for them to become a priority later. For now, make space. Invite focus, peace, and flow by saying no to distractions.

Choosing priorities, limiting the number of them (no more than three is good rule), and saying no to distractions brings more ease, fulfillment, and empowerment.

What will you say no to so you can say YES more often to what you love?

2022 My Year in Review

2022 My Year in Review

What a year 2022 was, hard and strange, and way too fast.

And yet, many beautiful blessings happened too. Significant movement toward long-held dreams.

The only reason I can make progress toward my dreams in such a crazy world is because, every year, I engage in a beautiful process of vision-mapping my year.

Big Dreams Launched, Big Milestones Reached

I launched my Brilliant Playmates creative community in 2022. Hooray! I’ve wanted to create an online community for artists to come together and share their art and their process, get deep support, accountability, and feedback, and experience the power of cross-pollination for years. Finally, I did it.

The results have been beautiful, rewarding, and fun. What a remarkable group of artists has come together with synchronistic threads of mutual interest, particularly in the realms of social justice and collective healing.

I completed an edited draft of my book on how to live a passionate, thriving creative life. And wrote a 50-page book proposal to seek a publisher for the book. A huge milestone for me. I will start sending it out soon and look forward to letting you know about a book deal in the works! (If you want to follow that process more closely and learn the things I learn along the way, join me on Patreon.)

The monthly sacred fire circles I hold for my local community were amazing, rich, and deep. I feel very blessed by the ongoing gifts of fire and by the folks who join me around the fire.

I was able to return to my beloved dance form, Contact Improvisation, in 2022. As always, this proved to be profoundly good for my body and heart and so fun! But my dance-music troupe, Shadow Cabinet, did not meet except to perform once outside. I miss those amazing artists and our work and play together and hope to rekindle that in 2023.

My classes and coaching were consistently wondrous and full of amazing people. I feel so blessed by the folks who are drawn to my work. Thank you!

Challenges, Losses, and Learning

In 2022 I think we collectively hoped we were out of the woods with the madness of the pandemic. And then, we were disappointed to experience lingering effects in social isolation, loss of connections and activities from pre-pandemic days. In weird and disturbing illnesses of many kinds cropping up and cropping up again. In a lack of reliable information. And in ongoing stress around it all.

My husband and I focused quite a bit of energy and resources on getting better prepared for more upheaval in the coming times, living more sustainably, and fostering community. Resilience.org is a good resource for that.

I experienced some profound losses and shifts in 2022. My beloved spiritual mentor, Eliot Cowan, died. And I left my spiritual community. Both of these had been mainstays of my life for 22 years. I felt unmoored and in deep grief. I’m also beginning to harvest blessings of those changes as I step more fully into my gifts as a firekeeper and continue connections with others from that spiritual family.

My dear friend Curt also died. I miss his humor and insight, his caring and his unconventional, questing spirit.

We found out we had to move last Spring because our landlords were selling the house. That was horrible, exhausting, and threw a monkey wrench into some plans for the year. But we recovered and enjoyed an abundant harvest from our garden now that we have more sun.

Getting Down to Brass Tacks

2022 was a year in which I focused on creating a stronger foundation for Brilliant Playground to thrive. This required a lot of nitty-gritty work that was not in my wheelhouse. And some painful reckoning with what was not working.

But I’m also getting a new logo and website that I’m so excited to share with you soon. The best part is making things run more smoothly, being able to serve all of you even better, and being ready to reach more people with my sacred work.

Reading, Writing, and More

I also shared 60 delicious posts with my patrons on Patreon. These include my works-in-progress, finished creations, stories about my process, creative life, and what I learned along the way. Also, my regular What’s Inspiring Me posts.

If you’re not a patron, and you’re curious, come check it out. Your support helps keep a roof over my head and you get a ridiculous ton of benefits for a few dollars a month.

Because of working so hard on my book on creativity, writing poems, getting published, and giving readings took a back seat. Nonetheless, I was surprised to discover that I typed up 44 new poem drafts and still managed to get 5 things published last year, including my very first book reviews.

2022 was a good year for reading. I read 49 books plus parts of 6 more and read aloud from 8 more with my sweetie. I’ll work on a post about my favorite books of 2022.

Nothing ever goes exactly as planned. That’s the nature of life. But, when you have clearly-defined, soul-centered dreams and goals, plus a good map to reach them, you experience more fulfillment, joy, and grace. And you can weather the storms better because you have a way to stay aligned with your heart path.

If you’d like support with that, check out our upcoming Vision-Mapping Your Inspired Year retreat or my one-on-one coaching.

To your beautiful new year,


“The crucial question is whether or not a path has heart, because if it does, you are on the right track. If it doesn’t, it is of no use. One path makes you happy and strong, while the other weakens you.”

Arnold Mindell
Planting Dream Seeds for the New Year

Planting Dream Seeds for the New Year

Last night my women’s group did a ritual for the new year, one in which we uncovered our dream seeds.

We each released an old pattern that we are ready to let go, something that has been hindering us.

We danced and shrieked, yelped and shook to let it go. And we were helped by our sisters, supporting us, moving and sounding with us, touching us.

Afterward, we sat in twos and shared what we are longing for in the year ahead. Out of those longings, we distilled a few key words as touchstones. I call these dream seeds.

I had already chosen my dream seeds last week as I engaged in a week-long process with my husband, one we do every year. We revisit the year, harvesting the gifts and lessons of the outgoing year. We celebrate, mourn, honor, and let go anything we need to let go.

Then, after resting a little in the gap, we begin to dream and vision the year ahead. We listen for what the year is already dreaming through us and how we can align ourselves with that.

Choosing a Word for the Year as a Guiding Light

One of the steps we take is we each choose a word or theme for the year.

Or rather, we let it choose us, waiting patiently for it to drop in any time leading up to or following the new year. A word that feels resonant and right, needed, full of meaning personally now, vital.

This year my word is Grace.

As in Divine Grace. The inspiration, magic, miracles, blessings, deep presence, and wonder that comes from the divine. Merriam-Webster defines this as “unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”

But I mean it also in the sense of acting with grace, for me to embody grace, to create grace in my art and life. The American Heritage dictionary says of this meaning: “Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.”

Naming Additional Dream Seeds as Touchstones

My other dream seeds are safety, abundance, divine inspiration, and trust.

I am calling in these qualities and experiences in the coming year. And committing to doing my part to cultivate them.

That last part is important.

While the magic of ritual, dreaming, and intending is potent, we also need to follow them up with commitment and action, if we really care about the dreams we wish to create.

Too often I see people setting intentions and dreaming big dreams but never doing anything to bring those dreams to life. Then, they feel disappointed when another year passes and they are no closer to their dreams.

Planting Your Dream Seeds

A first step to going deeper and actually planting the dream seeds occurred to me last night, during the ritual with my soul sisters.

I asked myself the question: “What might my life be like if this quality were fully embodied, fully present in my life?” I began to explore the feeling of that in my body, getting the taste of it deeply within.

This is so helpful and essential. To not just approach our dreams and heart’s desires with our minds. But to bring our bodies on board, and also our spirits and hearts.

Today in my journal, I asked the question again, taking just one dream seed at a time and answering as fully as possible. Really imagining and living into what my life would feel like, look like, be like, how I would show up differently, what would be present if this quality, this dream seed were fully activated.

It’s a delicious exploration and one that stretches me out of my comfort zone to imagine new possibilities and push up against old boundaries I long to outgrow. As a child of a Holocaust survivor, I have seriously wrestled with feeling safe in this life, and that in turn has limited my thriving. I have been engaging in nervous system healing and looking at the patterns and behaviors around this, so that I can transform it.

As I explored these questions in my journal, I found myself often writing what would not be present any longer, what I wanted to be rid of—“I wouldn’t be so anxious.” “I wouldn’t feel so conflicted about money.”

I let myself write that but then I challenged myself to name these states in the positive. What would be present? How would I live? What would be different? What would that really look like? “I feel relaxed and open.” “I feel clear and aligned in my stewardship of money and resources.”

Your Turn: Discover and Explore Your Dream Seeds

I invite you to take a similar inner journey.

What are you longing for in the year ahead? What 3-5 dream seeds can you distill out of that? Is there one that feels the most alive, your word of the year?

Now, take one dream seed, one word at a time, and write in detail about how your life would be different if this dream seed were to bear fruit.

Write about it in the present tense, as if it is already happening. Not “I would trust my judgment,” but “I trust my judgment.”

And finally, is there one action or practice you can take on to help you cultivate each dream seed this year?

Perhaps you wish to make a list of actions that support your dream seeds and post your list where you will see it throughout the year. Are there healthy habits, practices, or other steps that would support you having more of this dream seed in your life?

Choose one or two actions to take this week.

To the flowering of your heart’s deep dreams,


P.S. For more on the process of dreaming your new year, read here. Or join me for a delicious two-day retreat to harvest the outgoing year and dream the new. I will guide you through processes both magical and practical and help you make a vision-map to guide you through the year ahead.

Making the Most of Your Life

Making the Most of Your Life

My friend Curt died a couple of weeks ago. I learned about it on Facebook and was stunned.

Curt was a heart-centered, caring soul and helped me in many ways over the years. He was a person I could trust to be honest, authentic, and to listen deeply. He could also be quite funny.

A few weeks before that an important person in our local music community died quite unexpectedly, a real shock. He wasn’t old. Then, my friend Amy’s mother died, also suddenly.

All of this death and loss is having me consider mortality and how I want to live, how I want to spend whatever time I have left, which may be very little or perhaps many years. There’s no way to know.

What if I only have a few years left? What if I have ten? Or just one? What do I most wish to do with that time? How can I live my best life now?

Death is so clarifying.

“Dying requires that we take the step without proof. We walk through the door. We cannot turn around and go back, so we walk through. The end. No guarantees, no certainty, no assurance. We walk, taking each step not from fear but from love, because a great mystery is blessing each footfall. Our hearts understand that mystery and feel the joy. It is the mystery returning to itself.”

Rodney Smith, Lessons from the Dying as quoted in Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations

What rises up for me is the desire to do even more of what I love, to make even more time for creativity in my life, to make it even more of a priority. I want to study it more deeply, be in creative community with peers and mentors, sharing with others and dialoguing about art and making.

And I want to enjoy my daily life, the small moments, each act of doing, each interaction with another. And continue to heal or release what hurts or haunts me, so I can be most joyful, alive, expressed.

All this uncertainty and upheaval in the world brings losses, endings, and letting go of various kinds. We can contract in fear or we can open in love to the mystery and wonder.

I’m choosing to make the most of my life now, to shape the most beautiful, rich, meaningful life that I can.

I choose to spend my resources of time, money, energy as much as possible on the things that are closest to my heart, bring me the most joy, and help me live well.

And that’s scary because my fear says I should spend all my time, energy, resources on preparing for a changing world—I’m doing that too—and on making more money. But I might not be around to enjoy that money. Whereas, if I make more time for making art now, I know I’ll be loving my life.

What are those things for you that bring you joy, fulfillment, love, peace?

I invite you to explore this in your heart, your thoughts, and in your journal. Answer, as best you can, from your heart, not your head.

If you only have three years left to live, how do you wish to spend them? What rises as a priority? What would make for the best life?

  • And then, how can you honor those priorities through your choices now?
  • What actions can you take this week, this month, this year?
  • What might you need to let go of or stop doing to make more time, space, and resources for what you most love?
  • What might you need to invest in?
  • What supports do you need to put in place to make more space and time for what matters most?

So much is changing in the world in radical ways. We don’t know what the world will look like tomorrow or next year. This makes it hard to plan. Even crazy-making.

For this reason, I feel there is no better time to focus on what your heart feels most drawn towards, what fills you with delight, or meaning, or love, or joy, even if you are full of doubt and fear about taking those next steps. Whenever something is on our heart path, there tends to be doubt and fear.

There are no assurances, no guarantees, but the path of heart is the best path I know. And it’s the one you are called to for a reason. If you long to dance, then dance. If you long to make music, make music. If you long to paint, please paint. And if you long to study marine biology, do that.

Perhaps you want to play music and study marine biology. Trust that. There may be a beautiful interweaving of the two that wants to come uniquely through you.

The dreams of your heart and soul were given to you for a reason. We need you to follow your dreams.

And if you are longing for support with finding and following your heart’s dreams and desires, check out my Creative Life Coaching & Mentoring.

To your heart-centered life with love,

How to Follow Your Heart to a Life of Meaning and Joy

How to Follow Your Heart to a Life of Meaning and Joy

Follow your heart. We hear it said over and over. But how do you even know what your heart is saying?

How do you know it’s your heart you are listening to and not some other aspect of yourself misguiding you? What if your heart is closed and you can’t hear it?

A new subscriber sent me this subtle and interesting question this week. It was so good I decided to devote this week’s post to answering it. Here’s his question:

“How can we follow the heart if it appears closed? Are we subtly prompted through the mind until we fully reconnect with it and choose to open it and follow it again?”

Some keys to the answer are embedded in the question itself.

One key is in the word “appears.” The heart appears closed but is never really closed. Openness is its true condition, its natural state, and it never forgets how to do this.

Because of trauma, events that happen to us, and our conditioning, we may learn to close down our hearts. We may feel afraid of being hurt or disappointed, rejected or shamed.

We may have been taught to distrust the heart and favor the mind. That is the dominant paradigm of the Western world. So, the heart feels atrophied.

We may feel we are not fluent in the language of the heart, due to a lack of encouragement and practice. So, we find it hard to hear the voice of the heart or recognize it.

The Signature of the Heart

The heart voice has a distinctive signature. It speaks with authority, wisdom, quiet subtlety, and sometimes humor. It can be no-nonsense direct and sometimes utterly mysterious from the perspective of the mind.

Other elements of the heart signature are: The heart doesn’t offer reasons. It simply says, “Go there. Do this.” The heart doesn’t know fear. And it is not concerned with outcomes, with gain or loss. It is concerned with Truth, Growth, your rightful path, Fulfillment, Deep Joy, and Connection.

It will take in complex situations and lead you toward a good life, a life that benefits all.

Your heart voice will have its own unique signature. If you get to know its signature, you can learn to recognize it. You’ll learn to know how your heart speaks, which is often not in words.

The heart we are talking about here is not the wounded heart, not your wounded self with its false beliefs and limiting behaviors and ego-desires. Rather, it is your internal guidance system, meant to lead you to your best life.

When the heart is speaking, you feel it in the body. There is a resonance. You feel moved. You might feel tingling or a slight pressure in the chest. Maybe the hairs on your body stand up or tears come to your eyes. Or you feel very still and peaceful. You feel compelled from within. There’s a knowing of rightness and an absence of doubt or questions.

Can the Mind Lead You to the Heart?

Let’s look at the second part of the question above: “Are we subtly prompted through the mind until we fully reconnect with [the heart]?”

The answer is no. The mind will not direct you to the heart.

The mind deals in fear. Its job is to protect us from perceived and real harm. It tries to hold onto gains and shield us from loss. It is excellent at making distinctions, language like I am using now, making plans and following through, figuring out details. But it is meant to be the servant of the heart, not the boss. Most of us have this backward to our great detriment and the detriment of our world.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

This quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, is a paraphrase of something written by Bob Samples about Einsteins’ teachings. Nonetheless, it’s apt.

Instead of expecting your mind to prompt you to hear your heart, I recommend that you look, listen, feel for the heart’s unique signature, and follow those promptings. This takes practice, patience, and a willingness to make mistakes. Like any art form.

An Ancient Tool for Hearing the Voice of Your Heart

Fire is one of the primary tools given to human beings to help us connect to our hearts and live our lives in a good way.

Human beings are the only creatures who have a relationship with fire like we do. We are the only ones who for thousands of years have gathered around fires to warm our bodies, cook our food, light our way, share stories, songs, and poems, and work through conflicts. In fact, the earliest evidence of humans cooking with fire dates back to at least one million years ago. Archeologist Michael Chazan admits, “Socializing around a campfire might actually be an essential aspect of what makes us human.” I would agree.

It is said that in the time before time, this special relationship with fire was given to humans as an antidote for the mind. To bring us back into connection with the heart. There’s a reason that we are, to this day, dependent on fire in so many ways. Human beings are meant to connect with fire daily as an aid to counterbalance the negative tendencies of the mind.

In cultures around the globe, fire is associated with heart and spirit. You see candles burning in temples and synagogues and churches. You see fire used in ceremonies throughout the world. And you hear some of the many profound gifts of fire spoken of in the metaphors we use: the fire of passion, the fire of truth, the light of inspiration, the burning away in transformation.

Fire also helps us feel our emotions so that they don’t stay stuck inside and fester. When we do this, we can hear and feel our heart’s movement guiding us in our lives.

A Profound Practice to Reconnect with Your Heart

A very simple and profound practice for reconnecting with your heart is to sit with a candle for a few minutes (or longer) each day. Gaze into the flame and pour out your heart to the fire— whatever is weighing on you, concerning you, delighting you, perplexing you, frustrating you. You can do this silently or out loud. Then, sit for a few minutes (or longer) and listen for a response.

The response may come in words you hear inside, in a felt sense, in a shift of awareness, in a movement of emotion, or in quiet and stillness (so that you may think nothing is happening, but it is!). Often, the answers will come in your life, as you get up from your candle and move through your day. Opportunities, synchronicities, and messages will appear if you pay attention. This is the movement of heart, guiding you back into balance and wholeness in your life.

If you can gather with others, or alone, around a campfire, that is even more potent. Most potent of all is a sacred fire, consecrated for ritual, connection, and transformation.

Choose to Follow Your Heart

The last part of the question I received contains wisdom: “Are we subtly prompted… until we fully reconnect with [the heart] and choose to open it and follow it again?”

It is a choice to open our hearts and follow their guidance. We are free to make this beautiful choice in every moment of our lives. We get to choose again and again.

Will I follow my heart? Will I risk looking like a fool or a beginner, making a mistake, doing something that feels challenging or new, to follow the promptings of my heart? In the movie Tick, Tick, Boom! one character asks another: Are you letting yourself be led by fear or by love?

Let this question be your guide. And keep your questions coming. I love answering them when I can.

To your heart-centered life,


P.S. For further reading, you might enjoy my post on cultivating intuition here: https://brilliantplayground.com/cultivating-intuition/

And, there’s an excellent post by psychologist Amy Johnson on learning to distinguish between what I’m calling the mind voice and the heart voice, which she calls personal mind vs. wisdom. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/is-your-mind-the-servant-_b_7822304

A Guided Journey to Your Heart’s Dreams

A Guided Journey to Your Heart’s Dreams

To create the life of your dreams, you first have to know what your heart’s dreams are. You have to grant yourself permission to dream.

In this post I offer you a gentle, guided journey to uncover your heart’s dreams and get connected to a sense of possibility.

You can do this in the comfort of your home (or wherever you are) right now.

To Begin

Take a moment to set aside any distractions. Have a journal or notebook handy.

Get quiet and centered. Connect to your breathing and feel your feet on the ground. Open the top of your head to the sky and the cosmos. Feel the light of your soul pouring more fully into you through the top of your head.

Open to what comes through this process and agree not to judge or question it for now, whether you receive images, sensations, emotions, colors, words, a deep knowing, or a subtle sense. Just open and allow.

Put one hand on your heart and breathe into your heart. Put one hand on your lower belly and breathe into your belly and your whole pelvic bowl. Feel this very alive, grounded, rooted, centered part of your core.

Feel the field of life all around you, supporting you, and streaming through you. Life is already dreaming through you, calling you to your next steps on your path of heart. All the time.

You Are the Artist of Your Life

You are the artist of your life. Your life is your masterpiece. You have mastered what you’ve created so far, for good or bad. And you have the power to create a new masterpiece or to enhance the current one.

What would bring you the greatest joy and fulfillment to create with your life now? What would be absolutely wonderful? Let yourself dream.

Be patient. See what comes. If you think you don’t know, see what you do know. It might just come as whispers, an intimation. A crazy idea. A longing. A felt sense.

Now, in your journal or speaking out loud to yourself or another person, allow yourself to freely describe your ideal life 3-5 years from now. Just play with this. You might wish to dance or sway as you do this to call on your full body wisdom. Go wild, dream big, no holds barred. Set aside any concerns about what’s possible or what you might have to do to have that dream.

Make It Vivid and Embodied

Now, close your eyes. (You can keep cracking them open to read the directions and then closing them again to listen for answers.) Feel, see, hear, and touch that vision that you described. Call in all of your senses. Where are you? What are you doing? Who or what else is there in the picture?

Notice: How does this dream feel in your body and heart? What qualities are you embodying? How are you showing up?

What do these dreams give to your life? How do they benefit you? How are your dreams connected to what you most cherish?

Then, explore in your journal or out loud: What does it cost you not to realize your dreams or reach for them? Get as clear as you can on the actual costs to your emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental well-being, your total prosperity, your relationships, your creativity, your work and play. Getting clear on the costs gives you the necessary fuel to reach for big dreams.

Bow to the dreams, to your heart and soul, in gratitude for the gift of these visions. Take a deep breath. Go back to your day with the knowledge of the dreams in your heart.

Bring Your Dreams to Life

If you’d like to know how to bring these dreams to life through an extraordinary, magical step-by-step process, check out Living Your Dreams.

Transforming Your Relationship with Time, Part 1

Transforming Your Relationship with Time, Part 1

How is your relationship with time? Do you feel you have enough? Do you move through your day with ease and flow? Are you spending your time on what you love most, what nourishes your heart and soul?

Or are you frantic and rushed, or scattered, distracted, unable to use your time well? Are you frustrated at the end of the day with how little got done? Does time feel like it’s slipping away without you getting to what is most meaningful to you?

Does time feel like a friend or an enemy, or like some bewildering alien substance you can never quite get a hold of?

Welcome to Sacred Time Management

Sacred Time Management is such a vital subject that many of my Mentoring clients ask me to help them with it. We devote a whole segment of my Living Your Dreams course to it. Because, in order to live your heart’s dreams, you do so one day at a time. And how you feel about time colors so much of your life.

When you know how to live your time, in a soul-connected, loving, inspired way, life feels radiant and remarkable. When you know how to take a big dream and break it down into do-able steps, how to keep taking those steps in the midst of a full life, and how to make adjustments without losing your way, you get to see your heart’s great dreams come true.

When you know how to prioritize among your many interests and needs, you can create a rich, balanced life that doesn’t neglect any vital part of yourself.

It begins with fundamentally changing your relationship to time, so that it feels spacious, supportive, and magical. So that you and time are allies working and playing together toward the most beautiful life you can create. As one of my students said, “[I] have discovered a more magical way to work with and bend time.”

How I Discovered Sacred Time Management

I used to have an abysmal relationship with time. I put too much on my plate every day and had utterly unrealistic expectations for each week and month. I would end the day exhausted and disappointed about what didn’t get done. Then, start all over again the next day.

Finally, I’d had enough. I decided to transform my relationship with time. I wanted time to feel abundant, and the way I lived to feel beautiful and meaningful. I wanted to feel peace at the end of the day. And at the same time, to accomplish the things that mattered most to me. I wanted to enjoy my down time and not feel guilty that I should be doing something else.

Enter Sacred Time Management. I began to study time management tools, but also a wholly different way of relating to time. Making time an ally, the precious gift and blessing that it is. Disconnecting from toxic ideas about busyness and productivity that are rife in contemporary culture.

Connecting instead to my heart’s deepest desires and dreams, my soul’s longings and needs, my body’s wisdom, and the cycles of nature. Letting these guide how I spend my days, my weeks, my years. So that I’m moving with the flow of life and my own deep Self.

The result has been extraordinary. I’m not completely healed from the dominant paradigm that has most of us wear ourselves out, take on too much at once, ignore and deplete our hearts and bodies. But I do have a much healthier, satisfying experience of time.

I celebrate what I am able to do, but also how I am being, and how I am taking care of myself. I align my days and weeks with what is most important to me, what feeds me. And I make my choices from there. I’m open to the mystery and the way life shows up unexpectedly.

Why Sacred Time Management?

Sacred Time Management is a big subject. And it’s an important one because, as the writer Annie Dillard wisely observed, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” None of us wants to get to the end of our lives, whenever that comes (which could be today), and feel we have wasted our life or missed our calling or not done what we most longed to do.

There’s far more to Sacred Time Management than I can cover in a single blog post. But I will share some of the perspectives and tools I teach over a series of posts. If you wish to go deeper, check out my Creative Life Coaching & Mentoring or join me for Living Your Dreams.

Healing Your Relationship with Time

For today, I invite you to begin to think of Time as a living thing, a being, a friend with whom you wish to be in right relationship. Rather than thinking of it as a commodity or limited resource or frustrating enemy.

I invite you to pay attention to how you relate to time. Notice how you feel about time as you move through your day, when you feel rushed, impatient, relaxed, stressed, or spacious about time. See where healing needs to happen in your relationship with time. Pay attention to when you are trying to do three things at once. Or over-loading your to do list. Or frittering time away on unfulfilling activities. See if you end the day feeling unfulfilled or angry with yourself for not doing more. Simply notice. Bring your compassionate awareness to your relationship with Time. This is the first step.

I encourage you to write in your journal about what you notice. What is your current relationship with time? And what would you love it to feel like, be like? Dream into how you wish it to be. This is powerful.

Please share your questions about time and Sacred Time Management with me here or by email. I’ll do my best to address your questions in my upcoming posts on this subject. Also, please share your revelations and discoveries, so that we can all learn together. Stay tuned for more!

The Magical Child, the Wounded Child, and Your Creative Self

The Magical Child, the Wounded Child, and Your Creative Self

We each have a magical child living in us that is intimately connected to our true self and gifts, what we are uniquely good at, and what fascinates and delights us. The magical child holds the key to your wonder, joy, imagination, curiosity, enthusiasm, and playfulness. You need to cultivate a healthy relationship with this child self in order to have access to these talents and qualities that are so essential to your creativity and to your flourishing as all that you are.

We each also have a wounded child in us, or several, who needs our love, attention, and care, in order for us to grow up out of the sabotaging behaviors and limiting beliefs to which the wounded child is in thrall. The wounded child took on limiting beliefs as a way to make sense of painful experiences early on. She has also practiced limiting behaviors as a way to protect herself from further wounding. But now those same beliefs and behaviors are holding us back from being the fully alive, creatively expressed and fulfilled people we long to be.

In order to heal the wounded child and cultivate healthy relationship with the magical child, you need to be loving, wise, and supportive of the child within, to listen to her feelings and needs, her dreams and desires, to attend to her passions and talents. You also need create good boundaries for her, and a sense of safety and provision for her needs. You need to let her know that there is an adult self within that is taking care of her.

The child self holds a special relationship to your creativity and your life, both in its magical and wounded aspects. If you have suppressed the child self, believing you need to “grow up,” and that being child-like is unseemly, you have probably squashed an essential element of your creative fire, joy, and ability to pursue your dreams.

Your Many Selves

Each of us has many “selves” within that contribute to the unique constellation of us. You may have parts of yourself that are courageous and others that are fearful, parts that are confident and others full of doubt, parts that are skilled at math or sports or painting, a part that is organized, one that is rebellious, and so on.

Each aspect of self brings specific gifts and challenges. By befriending them all, you can call forth their unique gifts and learn to help them through their challenges. You can transform their destructive patterns into helpful ones. In this way, you gain their cooperation and reduce resistance to expressing yourself creatively and following your dreams. You need each of these selves on board in order to live your fullest life. Each one has profound abilities to share, many of which are vital to your creativity.

Re-parenting Your Inner Artist

We need to learn to re-parent our child selves, no matter what kind of parents we actually had or have. When we become adults, it becomes our job to be the loving, nurturing, responsible parent to our inner children, to help them shine in their gifts and grow up out of their limiting beliefs and behaviors or learn to navigate them better. Part of becoming a true adult is letting our parents off the hook of needing to parent us any longer and instead parenting ourselves.

All of this begins with building a relationship with the child self (or selves) within. Through dialogue, awareness, presence, and love. Start by getting to know your inner selves and inviting dialogue. Listen to what the child self within is feeling and needing. When we are angry, hurt, fearful, or resistant toward our creativity, it is usually the child self that is the one who is triggered and often, without our realizing it, is the one who is now in charge of our behavior and beliefs. So, you need to do a little investigative work to uncover the fearful, harmful, limiting stories you are telling yourself about yourself, your creativity, gifts, dreams, the world, and other people.

When you connect with the feelings, fears, and false stories inside, and meet them with compassion, care, wisdom, and love, you can transform them. You can connect with your wise, all-knowing Self, and from that wise Self teach the wounded self the real truth about who they are, their gifts and dreams. This truth comes from the Ground of Awareness or Beingness, which is also the Heart of Love. By speaking to the child from this wise and loving place, we free the extraordinary gifts of the magical child within and gain access to our full radiant aliveness.

Practice: Re-parenting the Child Within

The next time you feel hurt, angry, fearful, doubtful, or resistant toward your creativity (or toward anything in your life), take some time to tune into your child self. Ask what she is feeling and why. Reflect back to her in the same words she used what you heard. Then ask what she is needing and reflect that back, again using the exact words you heard. Show that you truly hear and understand her feelings and needs.

Now, notice the stories she is telling herself, the meaning she is making about “reality.” What is she fearing is true? For example, “My art is terrible.” “Nobody will ever want my art.” “I’ll never make it as an artist.” “The world doesn’t support people like me.” “I’m not good enough.” “People will laugh at me.”

What age is this child self that is triggered? Just take an intuitive guess.

Now from your loving, adult self, speak to that child as a loving, supportive, encouraging parent. What would you say to encourage this child’s unique gifts and passions and help her with her challenges? Tell the child within what’s true and supportive. Encourage their creativity and dreams. But without lying to them. Children know when we are lying. So tell them the truth, but the deep truth. Note: You have to step fully out of the wounded self and into your wise, adult, loving self to do this.

You  might say, “Your art has wonderful, exciting, original things in it, and you are still developing your skills. Be patient. It keeps getting better.” Or you might say, “I don’t know if you will make a living as an artist, but I know you can keep making art and sharing it, and that is a very good life to live.” Or “I know you have something of deep value to share through your art.”

This takes practice and repetition. It’s not something we do once and are done with. But, the time and attention you give to this practice can change your life dramatically.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like Turn Your Self-Doubt Into Generative Questions and The Challenge of Self-Worth for the Artist

A Beautiful Practice to Grow Self-Esteem and Confidence

A Beautiful Practice to Grow Self-Esteem and Confidence

“Cultures of domination attack self-esteem, replacing it with a notion that we derive our sense of being from dominion over another.”

― Bell Hooks, Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

I took a brisk walk this morning, down and up a steep hill, a loop walk through the tree-lined streets of my neighborhood. As I walked I engaged in a practice to invite more self-esteem into my body and being. And also more trust and support from the Universe, especially in my work as an artist and teacher. I will share that beautiful, simple practice with you here.

How’s your self-esteem and why does it matter?

I don’t think of myself as having low self-esteem. Yet, I chronically feel like what I do in my art and my teaching is never quite good enough. I push myself to over-achieve, over-effort, over-do. I judge myself and stress myself out. And, out of this pattern, I attract not-enoughness in my life, not enough support, not enough money, not enough recognition.

What is self-esteem and why does it even matter? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary online defines it as: “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself.” Self-esteem is how you or I think of ourselves, how positively or negatively, how we measure our worth or value. Low self-esteem means we don’t think highly of ourselves, our capabilities, our worthiness. And that of course, deeply affects our lives, relationship, work, abundance.

Psychology Today writes: “Confidence in one’s value as a human being is a precious psychological resource and generally a highly positive factor in life; it is correlated with achievement, good relationships, and satisfaction.” VeryWellHealth.com says: “…higher levels of self-esteem translate into improved mental health…” Low self-esteem affects not just our mental health but also our physical health and our total well-being in our lives.

A surprising way to increase self-esteem

I learned these practices from the amazing work of Hiro Boga and then adapted them to what works for me because, by nature, my primary learning styles are auditory and kinesthetic, and Hiro’s practices tend to be more visual. So, here’s how I did it this time.

As I walk, I attune first to the nature spirits all around me and to my relationship of love with them, our mutual partnership. I attune to the support of Earth and the blessings of Sun and the trees and plants and animals and birds and wind and so on. I ask for their support in coming forward in my work in the world.

Next, I hold the shining roadmap I have made for my work for this year in my mind and see myself holding it in the great Flow of Life. I let the Flow of Life wash over and through it, to bring it to fullness in whatever way is in alignment with that Flow, to bless it with the powers of that Flow. You could do this with any heart-felt dream or desire for your life. Inviting the cooperation of Life and aligning with the Flow or Way of Life (also known as the Tao) are steps that make bringing our heartfelt dreams to reality less effortful and more magical.

The seat of self-esteem in the body

As I keep walking, I work with the pattern-holder of my third chakra. The third chakra is about Will, Personal Power, and Self-Esteem or Self-Worth. I have physically felt a painful hole in this chakra for as long as I can remember. So, I don’t expect this process to be a one-time thing. I’m patient and work in layers to release wounding, shame, false beliefs, and old agreements in this chakra into Earth who will compost them. I see these old wounds and agreements flow down into Earth. I keep clearing the third chakra with the help of its pattern-holder. Walking while I do this practice helps me embody the practice and feel the support of the nature spirits.

Next, I invite the soul quality of Self-Esteem to fill my third chakra. My back gets straighter, shoulders drop back, even though I feel my capacity to hold self-esteem is still small. I can feel where my edge is, and I just take in what I can for today.

Who do I need to be to attract more suppoort and attention for my writing and teaching? I need more Confidence, Safety, and strong Grounding. I invite these soul qualities into my body and energy field too. Confidence in the third chakra, and Safety and Grounding in the first.

I feel more aliveness and wholeness in my body as I play with these things. And I keep it light and playful.

The world responds to our self-esteem

As if in confirmation, I pass a man with his adorable little dog. The dog is very eager to meet me. I stop to pet him. I pass a landscaping crew. The young men smile brightly at me. The world feels warm, bright, full of love.

There is peace in the trees, the air, birds, streets, Earth. I move among all these, belonging here, and also feel the edge where old unloved, unwanted feelings still arise.

I let the self-esteem I am inviting flow up into the wounded parts of my heart. This is a process. It will take time to heal.

I let the energy, the soul quality of Self-esteem soften and spread in my body, becoming more integrated. Why is this so unfamiliar to me? When did I lose it? I don’t need to figure that out, but just bring presence to the process.

Practicing in this way, with consciousness, with soul tools that work, with the energy of invitation and love and gentleness and patience, I can change the old patterns, become more of who I truly am. I can free myself and grow into the self I need to be in order to fulfill my dreams.

You can do this too

Start by practicing inviting in those soul qualities you most need now, one by one, with patience, gentleness and faith. Ask yourself which qualities you need to fulfill your dreams for yourself, your life, your world at this time. You might wish to focus on a particular dream, project, or area of your life.

Do you need more Support, Self-Esteem, Confidence, Courage, Abundance? Do you need Clarity, Faith, Vulnerability? Each is a soul quality that you can invite into your body. You don’t need to know about the chakras to do this, though if you do, you may wish to invite these qualities into the chakra that is most associated with that quality. Or, you can simply invite that quality, that essence, into your whole body, your dream, your work, your life.

Each soul quality is like an energetic being. That is why I capitalize their names. Hiro Boga calls them devas, a Sanskrit word meaning “shining ones.” Each one has its own life in the world. Its job is to hold the pattern of that quality. It likes to be invited in, to be welcomed into your body and your life. In that way, it can do its job in the world.

Feel yourself expand to hold more of that quality. Let it move in you, become embodied, a little at a time, as much as you can hold that day. Get familiar with how it feels to hold this quality. You are gently growing your capacity. Come back to it again another day.

Notice how your life shifts as you do this. May miracles unfold for you this day.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others. For more on this topic (and related topics), you might enjoy Validate Yourself: Why Every Artist Needs to Learn This and The Challenge of Self-Worth for the Artist

The Gifts (and Perils) of Focus

The Gifts (and Perils) of Focus

This is the beginning of a two-part series on Focus. We’ll look at how you can bless your creativity and your life with its gifts. And, avoid its pitfalls.

Focus is about getting out of overwhelm, over-doing, and the feeling of spinning your wheels. It’s about aligning your life with what matters most to you. It brings fulfillment, clarity, and ease.

What it’s not about is driving yourself with an inner taskmaster or eliminating other delights from your life. It isn’t about having a maniacal single purpose with nothing else going on.

Focus gives you purpose and momentum. Perhaps you feel your primary focus needs to be on your work, or school, or your family right now. Perhaps you decide to put it on finding a partner or learning a new skill.

Once you name your focus and give it your attention, you can fill in around it with other things that bring enjoyment and spice. You’ll also fill in with things that are necessary or important—like care of your finances and your health.

But you know your primary focus. And you understand why you may have to let some things go, some things be dormant or more quiet, why you might need to neglect some things for a period of time. Instead of trying to do it all.

Knowing your focus lets you off the hook of trying to do everything and all at the same level. So you don’t go crazy and exhaust yourself. Or get discouraged and never reach your dreams.

We need focus. In our art and in our lives. And it can feel harder and harder to choose and maintain focus in our “distraction economy.”

When You Have a Lot of Interests

Having focus means we choose where to give our life energy—to which art form, creative project, or aims. Within your creative life (and any area of life), choosing a primary focus can be enormously freeing, helpful, and satisfying.

Choosing a focus doesn’t mean you can’t work in more than one art form, or have more than one interest at a time. I am a writer, dancer, and musician. Each one gives me something different and vital. But I can’t do them all at the same level all the time.

Writing has been my primary focus for many years. Knowing this gives me clarity in how I use my studio time, nourish my muse, and grow as an artist. And I can choose to shift that focus for periods of time.

You can also work on multiple projects at a time. Some artists need this cross-pollination to do their best work. And you may have goals in different areas of your creative life, goals for creating art, learning, and sharing your work, for instance.

But I slow my progress and artistic development when I lack a strong focus, when my priorities aren’t clear, and when I don’t stick to those priorities. Then I feel frustrated and disappointed with how little progress I have made. I need to narrow my focus, know the order of priority of my projects and goals, and have a realistic plan for reaching them. Otherwise, I tend to flail, doing a little of this and a little of that.

The proof is always in the pudding. Are you completing things you are proud of? Creating your best work? Growing as an artist and in your life? Most of all, are you enjoying your life?

Choosing a Primary Focus

Start by choosing a primary focus. This might be a creative project or goal or a focus for your life as a whole right now. What is calling to you? What lights you up? What would feel the best or make the biggest positive difference in your life right now? What is your one thing if you had to choose one thing for a time?

Right now my artistic focus is the book I’m writing on how to live a passionate, inspired creative life. As long as I didn’t get crystal clear that my book was my primary focus, progress was painfully slow. I kept getting distracted and derailed. I had my hand in so many projects. And was also juggling too many small (and large) goals all over my life. I felt overwhelmed and like I was always falling behind. And it felt like nothing was getting done.

Perhaps you don’t yet have a focus or not enough. You go into your creative space and just dabble. You go about your life, answering to whatever is most urgent that day. Or you are overwhelmed with too many projects and directions.

Let Your Heart Be Your Guide

Focus, when chosen well—from your heart’s deepest desires and soul’s needs—gives you excitement, energy, and relief. And both the process and completion brings fulfillment, joy, and a sense of accomplishment.

I invite you to choose a primary focus in your creative life now, and perhaps one in your life as a whole. Here’s how.

Try this: Pour out all the projects, goals, desires, pursuits that you have going in your life now or have been thinking about. Dump them all onto a piece of paper.

Go through them one by one. Which ones spark joy? Which feel exciting or draw you? Which connect to a deep sense of purpose or meaning? Put a star or a heart next to those.

If something feels heavy or too hard, perhaps the time is not right for that now. If something feels like a should rather than a want to, cross it off or find a way to connect it to something you truly desire. Maybe you need to hire support with it. If something feels urgent, is that urgency connected to a goal or dream that’s truly important, or is it a false urgency, coming from unhealed trauma or anxiety?

Winnow down your goals and projects. Cross whatever you can off the list. Now, choose a primary focus in your creative life and/or in your life as a whole. If you cannot choose one, choose three and rank them in order of priority.

You can decide the time frame for this choice. Perhaps you start playing with this by just choosing a singular focus from now until the end of the year. That’s just two weeks away. So your focus might be to enjoy the holidays and let yourself rest. Or to finish a project that is near to completion. Or to spend time harvesting the outgoing year and visioning the new. Perhaps you are ready to choose a primary focus for 2022.

Focus Is More Than Just Choosing

Once you know what your focus is, you need a plan for how you will move toward it and keep it alive in daily life.

Focus can include detailing the steps and timeline. Right now, I’ve given myself the goal of editing one big chapter of my book every two weeks until this draft is done. Your focus might be a learning goal: To master watercolor technique or learn to play Bach’s solo cello suites. What’s your plan for how you will do this?

Whatever the focus, and whatever your steps, you also need a way to remember to take those steps, check how it’s going, and adjust as needed. You need encouragement, support, accountability. I have both an editor who is helping me with my book and a writer friend that I meet with regularly to share.

Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. We need mentors and companions on the path to our heart’s dreams.

Support for Your Passionate Life

If you would love radical clarity on your focus, I’d be honored to support you with one-on-one Creative Life Mentoring. This is a magical combo of life coaching, creativity mentoring, and soul whispering that is tailored to your specific needs, desires, dreams, challenges. It is a profound gift to give to yourself.

Stay tuned for part II on Focus in which I share some recent pitfalls I fell into, how I got out, and more.


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