Finding Your North Star to Guide Your Year

Finding Your North Star to Guide Your Year

Have you named dreams, intentions or desires for the year ahead? Have you sat down to connect with soul-inspired vision?

Or does that all feel hopeless in the light of the upheaval of our times? How can we possibly plan?

Why bother?

When you take the time to connect with, and clearly name, your heart-centered, soul-inspired dreams, desires, visions for the year, you have a north star to guide you through waters both stormy and calm.

You have a way to stay connected to what matters most to you, what fills your life with beauty, fulfillment, connection and joy, even in the hardest times. And when everything is swirling around you, you have a safe harbor to return to.

This process isn’t about trying to nail everything down. This is about being in sacred partnership with Life, co-creating with what wants to be born through you.

My Breakthrough Dream

Every year, among naming other dreams and goals, I choose a Breakthrough Dream as a central focus for the year. This brings tremendous clarity, inspiration and movement to my life. (For more on finding your own Breakthrough Dream, read this post.)

My Breakthrough Dream last year was: “I am lovingly supporting Fierce Aria [my book of poems, published in May, 2020] so that she may flourish in the world and reach all those who need her. I allow her to win awards and acclaim and sell her first thousand copies in 2020.”

Fierce Aria is my first published book. I spent more than ten years creating it and huge amounts of sweat and tears (also dollars!) to bring it life. I want it to reach and move people and open doors for me as well.

So, it was a perfect Breakthrough Dream. And it seemed just about impossible from the start.

How it actually turned out

My dream stretched and pushed me all year. I wrestled with it! But it also gave me a powerful focus that held me and helped me through a very tough year. And it brought incredible blessings to my life.

I am sure I didn’t come close to 1000 copies sold, though I’m still waiting to hear from my publisher. (If you want to get a copy, I’d love that! You can order it here or through your bookstore.)

I only managed to get two reviews—beautiful reviews—one on Hannah Rousselot’s blog and the other in a wonderful online literary journal called Sweet. And I only began submitting to awards contests at the end of the year, so I won’t know until later this year if the book wins any.

But whole new worlds opened up in my creative life. Big shifts both internally and externally. I’ll share more in my Year in Review post, coming soon.

Dreamtending is deep soul work that is life-giving to you and to our world. It isn’t even so much about the outer results—though those can be amazing—as it is about how it changes you within.

Committed but not attached

The key with any dream or goal, intention or desire is to stay committed to it but not attached to the specific outcomes. Easier said than done!

If you do your best to hold your dreams lightly with all the love in your heart, but be open to new information, new directions showing up, you will find yourself flowing toward not only the fulfillment of many beautiful things, but also toward greater freedom, peace and wholeness within.

Give yourself space

To do this, you need first to give yourself space to get quiet and go inward, to listen to what you long for, what life is calling you towards, how your soul needs to grow.

Now is a perfect time to do this. Last night was the new moon, a time for slowing down, going inward, setting intentions and beginning new things.

Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss,” because what lights you up or fascinates you or compels you within is the key to your soul’s path. Your deepest dreams will lead you to what you uniquely have to give to our world and also to your own inner growth.

Clarity is liberating and invigorating (and also scary!)

Once you’ve gone inward to hear your dreams, needs and desires, you then summon the courage to clearly name them—even if some of them seem impossible or scary. If it scares you and also excites you, that is a sign you are on the right path.

I always try to do six impossible things before breakfast.”

—from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

To bring your dreams to life, you will need to name some actionable steps you can take to support them and put those steps in time. Perhaps you only know the first few steps right now, or only one. That’s fine. Start there.

One of the Fundamental Principles of Creative Dreaming that I teach in my Living Your Dreams course is “You don’t need to know how to make your dreams come true. You only need to know clearly what the Dream is. The Dream will show you the how, one step at a time.”

To your heart’s dreams,

Maxima

Take it further

Read this post on Dreaming Your Year for more on how to do that.

If you are interested in my one-of-a-kind Living Your Dreams course, The Artist’s Way is the prerequisite. Because it gives you the tools, transformation and introspective processes to be ready for Living Your Dreams. If you have questions, I’m right here.

The Most Beautiful Thing You Can Make

The Most Beautiful Thing You Can Make

The world may end. You’re right. But that’s not a reason to be scared. None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it. You know? What are you working for, posterity? We don’t know if there is any posterity.

—Laurie Anderson, as quoted in Austin Kleon’s Keep Going

What is the most beautiful thing you can make today?

When I read Laurie Anderson’s quote I am electrified, stopped in my tracks. What have I been doing with my day?

Obsessed with checking things off the to do list or frittering time in meaningless tasks and distractions. Yes, some of these things matter or have to be done. Some don’t. But what have I been doing?

So, I ask myself this question: What is the most beautiful thing I can make today?

Because what could be more worthwhile of my time and energy? In what better way could I give, contribute, serve, even if no one sees or hears or experiences the beauty I make?

Facing the fear and unknowning

But the question is terrifying, daunting, calling me not just to make something beautiful but demanding I don’t settle for the dull habit, routine, the needful tasks, nor the easiest way out through the creative mines, because even in my studio time I have my safe and well-worn paths.

I am afraid to even think the question: What is the most beautiful thing I can make today?

I have no idea of the answer.

Play  music on my violin perhaps? I know that when I do that soulfully, it approaches the numinous and, at the same time, gives voice to something profoundly human.

Try to write a poem that matters? Lately, I’m not happy with much of what I write.

Or have I already made the most beautiful thing, already made a visual poem, by arranging cut flowers from my garden in two little vases—two colors of azaleas, magenta and baby pink and white balls of candy tufts.

Am I therefore off the hook, done with the project of beauty for today? That doesn’t feel right.

A generative question keeps opening possibilities

What is the most beautiful thing I can make today?

What if I didn’t rush to answer that, at least not yet, but instead kept asking throughout the day, so that I was never done with the project of beauty, adding to the needful store of the world?

What if my conversations with others were held to this same measure? My actions, such as making dinner, even of the simplest materials? It is one of the elements of my life mission statement “to be an artist with all my life.”

How might beauty be the guide of my days?

And when I say beauty I mean to define it in an expansive way, the way that old warehouses and rusting metal can be beautiful, the way that a painful, hard truth can be beautiful, the way that grief scoring us inside can be beautiful, the way that dissonance in music can be beautiful.

Maybe the most beautiful thing I can make today, given my day, is a loving gesture or word, a soulful moment of connection. Maybe it’s a moment of self-kindness. Maybe it’s in the way I set the dinner table.

A better question for artists

The time management guru Alan Lakein suggests the question “What is the best use of my time right now?”

That’s helpful if efficiency, productivity, but also being on target with what matters most are your aim. It’s a good question. Particularly helpful for procrastinators, when we’re habitually distracted, frittering time, or simply keep choosing the easier, but less important or less meaningful tasks. I use it from time to time.

But how about asking: What is the most beautiful thing I can make today?

Do I dare ask and ask again? Do I dare meet the answers face to face? Do I dare confront my own sense of inadequacy and step over it, so I can actually try? And be willing to fail.

Wouldn’t the best use of my time be to try and fail in the service of beauty?

As an artist I feel an aching, resounding yes.

Aching, because it causes the clench of sadness and love in my chest, the grief and praise of being alive, and of always falling short of my visions as an artist—how could I not?

It’s the nature of being an artist. The yearning and reaching toward the hidden god, deus absconditus, the ache of longing for communion with the One, the glimpses of the One in the making and receiving of art.

What is the most beautiful thing I can make today? Is it this writing? The little flowers I arranged in the vases?

Do I dare to keep trying with each pen stroke, spoken word, act? Do I dare to pick up my neglected violin and face the demons that swirl around it? Do I dare to shed another layer of the mask that separates me from others? Might I dance on the deck at dusk for the joy of it?

So many ways to make beauty in a single day.

It is so alluring to just repeat the easy, safe, habitual—even in my writing. To follow the known paths. How might I challenge myself to stretch further, to make something really beautiful?

And yet how might I do this so lovingly that I don’t stifle my flow but encourage it?

Entering the Flow

Flow is the state in which we lose ourselves in our work. Time stops, self-consciousness stops. We are fully present in the work.

It’s a state most of us long for, certainly as artists. An inspired state of Oneness and aliveness.

One of the characteristics needed for the state of Flow, which the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied extensively in his pioneering work with artists, athletes and others, is having a challenge that stretches us, but which we feel capable of meeting.

So, we want to cultivate that sense of reaching to create beauty without setting the bar so high for ourselves that we become deflated, discouraged.

The lineaments of beauty

Beauty is a fearsome, wondrous god—form like a burning bush too bright to look on, too hot to draw too near. I want to kneel and bow my head before it, humbled, embarrassed. And yet I hunger for it, need it all around me to live—beauty in my home, my garden, in words, art, music, how I dress.

I need the soft lineaments of beauty to make my days feel worth living, hopeful, whole. The utilitarian and mechanical don’t do it for me. Nor simply living to live.

Every moment of beauty—bird, cloud, music, poem, curve of line, pleasing shape or arrangement of objects, flowers, flow of a dress, tears on a face, wisdom spoken, heart-wrenching honesty and vulnerability, bravery, kindness—lights my days.

So I will do my best to add my share each day, no doubt falling short in my own estimation often, but nonetheless living the best possible life by asking:

What is the most beautiful thing I can make today?

And then making it and asking again.

Will you join me? Will you add to the world’s store of beauty with your own?

Will you add to your own life by living it with beauty, in service to beauty, by making beauty today, and then again tomorrow and the next day?

Will you dare to ask the question and answer it and follow it?

Let’s do our best. What is the most beautiful thing you can make today?

To the beauty that you are,

Maxima

Pam Houston on Writing and Creative Process

Pam Houston on Writing and Creative Process

A couple of weeks ago I went to a talk and reading by much-loved author Pam Houston and then took her writing workshop the next day.

I came away inspired, with her latest memoir, Deep Creek, under my arm, and new tools to use and teach, but I was also troubled.

Houston is an engaging storyteller, a riveting writer, and a warm, vulnerable human being. I’m thoroughly enjoying Deep Creek, which tells remarkable stories of her 26-years on a high-mountain ranch in Colorado, of her often-harrowing childhood, and how she holds onto hope while loving this Earth and watching so much of it die.

Houston’s prime creative technique

In her writing workshop, Houston shared with us the method she used to write Deep Creek and all of her books. It is a technique that is adaptable to many art forms, and there is much to be learned from it about creative process.

Houston collects what she calls glimmers from her life, moments that capture her attention, details from the physical world that brought up some resonance in her.

A glimmer might be a conversation she overheard or the experience of painting the UV protector on the logs of her cabin. It might be a mother hitting her child in the supermarket or seeing 300 elk cross her land in the snow or the time her father was so drunk, he rolled the car and the police had to cut her out of the passenger seat with a chainsaw.

Or, as she shared, a glimmer might be the centerpiece at a cocktail party that she couldn’t take her eyes off and didn’t know why, until much later she realized the bottle of vodka frozen in a mound of ice and surrounded by roses was a perfect metaphor for her mother.

She writes these glimmers down on her computer, describing the scenes in vivid sensory detail and eschewing, as much as possible, any commentary on the meaning of the events. In other words, she practices the time-honored creative writing maxim “Show don’t tell.”

Making a collage of moments

Later, she begins piecing together various glimmers that she intuitively senses belong together. In the process, she avoids the logical mind or trying to figure out or explain what the glimmers mean or why they belong together. Rather she approaches the process like collage, trusting her instincts and trusting her reader to draw connections to seemingly disparate events that may be far apart in time.

If she comes to a place in the writing where she needs a particular type of glimmer, she’ll do a word search on her computer for “ice” or “mother” or “inadequacy” or whatever it is she feels might fit with what she’s working on.

She lets the glimmers play off of and illuminate one another in surprising and interesting ways.

Giving the work a shape

For a book-length work, Houston chooses a form as a way to bring structure and coherence to her intuitive creative process.

For Deep Creek, the form she chose was a 12-sided Rubik’s cube.

The book is in 12 sections divided by short “Ranch Almanac” entries that follow the seasons in order. Each section, like the side of a Rubik’s cube, is made up of multiple glimmers pieced together like a quilt.

The glimmers are not chronological, but jump from her childhood to various points in her life to tales of ranch life. The pairings have intuitive, emotional resonance and also provide welcome contrasts and variety in the narrative.

Sensory detail for empaths and dreamers

Specific sensory details of smell, sound, taste, touch, sight, when vividly described, are what bring writing alive and draw the reader into a piece. They are a vital part of the art and craft of writing. Houston stressed this point in her workshop.

I know this. I teach this. But, as someone who experiences life through my inner experience, my feelings and intuitions, as someone who has always found the imaginal world and the unseen world, the world of spirits and dreams, to be more real and vibrant than the physical world, I struggle mightily with this in my writing.

So I practice. I practice waking up to the sensory world, noticing, paying attention, and describing. And it’s hard work for me.

As artists, we need to practice to strengthen our weaknesses, especially when those weak areas are vital to our art form. We need to keep learning and growing and expanding our capacities and our palette of possibilities.

But we also want to keep the process feeling good and build on our unique strengths. In this way, we find our unique voice and will keep wanting to return to our art. And our joy in making will infuse our art.

So, when I get tired or discouraged from practicing describing the physical world, I go back to my strengths as a writer. I describe my interior landscape. I practice capturing the ineffable. I let myself muse on the philosophical. I make unusual, musical pairings of words, summon beauty and wonder with language, create a kind of word magic, spell-casting.

What troubled me

What troubled me in Pam Houston’s workshop was not her methods, which were fascinating and useful. And noteworthy too because, if you study the methods of writers as I have, you will find an astonishing variety of approaches. There is no one right way to write a story, poem, essay or book.

What bothered me was that she emphasized what hard work writing is, how painful it is. She even said, if it isn’t painful, you aren’t doing it right.

I understand that she was pointing to being willing to delve into what’s uncomfortable and vulnerable and to bring that to the page. I agree this is important.

I understand, too, the importance of revising one’s work over and over to make it the best it can be, and how hard that process of revision can be at times, though I love revising.

The missing piece

But, I make my living teaching writers and artists of all kinds how to have more ease, grace and wonder in the process of creation, to step into that inspired state known as flow, and to enjoy it!

I get so tired of how writers, in particular, love to complain about how hard and painful it is to write.

Do dancers and musicians do this too? I haven’t heard it nearly as much in those realms. More often, I hear musicians and dancers talk about our love of the art form, our love of doing it. Why should it be any different for writers?

Yes, parts of the creative process are incredibly hard. They require us to stretch, to meet our fears, our doubts, our pain and insecurity, to be vulnerable and risk, to work hard to get something right that isn’t coming out.

At times, we meet disappointments and rejections. We come up against our own maddening limitations again and again.

But that isn’t the whole process.

Remember the joy and play

I left Pam Houston’s workshop wondering why writers have this habit of complaining about how hard writing is. I think part of it is because the dominant culture values work, not play. If we make it sound like hard work—and it is that too—then we can validate it.

Writing—all creating—is a tremendous gift. It is sacred play. We are blessed to be able to do it. Let’s not forget that, why we came to it in the first place.

You don’t see young children who are given paint and paper, agonizing over their work. They are at play, in delight, creating, exploring, experimenting. To me, that is the heart of art-making, the way it is meant to be.

And although there are days we sweat and bleed and gnash our teeth over it, we can love and enjoy the process overall. We can learn how to preserve the innate wonder and joy, surprise and magic that is creating.

That is my prayer for you.

To your joyful creative life,

Maxima

You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But. . .

You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But. . .

Following your dreams is something you are called to do. Each of us is called to follow our heart’s dreams.

Yet following your dreams is often approached in a totally wrong-headed way. A way that produces a great deal of suffering.

Your dreams are here to lead you on your heart path. Each of us must walk that path if we wish to live our fullest, richest, most fulfilled lives.

We are encoded with these dreams to such a degree that we cannot be truly joyful, if we refuse to follow them. That would be like an acorn trying to be something other than an oak.

Yet, following your dreams is not about getting everything you want.

Despite what so many “manifestation” teachers try to tell you. Trying to get everything you want is just grasping. It leads to immense suffering, as the Buddha taught.

Following your dreams is not about trying to be the “perfect” you or live a “perfect” life. It’s not about trying to fill up a deep sense of inadequacy or lack that can never be filled. Because those are lies.

You are already whole. You are enough and you have enough.

Yet there are things your soul longs to be and do, to express and experience. And these lead you on your heart path to make your contribution to our world.

Give Up the Dream of Control

Following your dreams is not about “manifesting” your desires in the sense of controlling your world.

The acorn gets no assurances of the future of the oak tree, how big it gets to grow, whether a storm will split it in two, whether anyone will ever see it.

Walking the path of your dreams does not mean you will get the girl or boy, the big house or fancy car, or even the book deal or art show—although you may get all those things and more.

This is the shocking truth many new age teachings don’t admit:

There is no guarantee of actually realizing the dream as you first imagined it. 

There is no promise of success, abundance or safety.

But the surprise we discover on the path of dreams is: That’s not what it’s all about. There is something better.

Your Dreams Lead to Your Greatness

Your path of dreams is your heart path. It is about following your soul’s callings, giving what you uniquely have to give, playing your part in the whole.

Following your dreams is about growing into the fullness of who you are and can be.

Your path of dreams will ask you to shed the false beliefs and wounded self, to face your fears and shuck your laziness, all your clever subterfuge.

Your path of dreams is here to lead you to your greatest self.

It is here to challenge you and push you to grow, to heal and to shine. You cannot hide out on this path or play it safe or keep everything easy and comfortable.

Much Will Be Required of You

Your true heart’s dreams will ask everything of you.

Our true dreams require tremendous courage, devotion, care and persistence. They require inner strength, love, creativity and willingness to partner with others of like mind, to find your place.

They require your willingness to partner also with a field of Life greater than your small self, to recognize the limitations of the small self, the false self, and to live from something far deeper and more magnificent.

Many new-age teachings promise that you can get everything you want. They encourage you to feed your fear-based ego desires for money, possessions, prestige and, most of all, control.

But that is not the path to freedom and joy.

The path to freedom and joy comes from listening to, and following, your heart’s deepest desires, those yearnings that may terrify you even to admit.

And following them not out of the promise of arrival, so much as out of a willingness to go on the adventure.

You follow your dreams out of a love for the journey, the process and all the rich gifts it brings, gifts you cannot predict at the outset. There is no arrival point. That is one of the things you discover on the path of dreams, one of the many things that will set you free when you follow your heart path.

You follow because you have to, because that is who you are at heart.

You Get What You Need

I’m not saying that you will not realize those dreams that are in your heart.

With a combination of clear vision, commitment, devotion and attentive care, along with a healthy dose of surrender and partnership with the All, you can co-create extraordinary things in your life. Things that will bring great blessings to you and our world.

When you get clear on your heart’s true desires, you are in partnership with a force of Life larger than you, a force that is supporting you in unfolding in your gifts. When you clear the path to those desires by doing your inner work and taking steps to bring them to fruition, you greatly increase your chances of actualizing your dreams.

Using the processes that I teach, I have been able to realize remarkable dreams and create a life of passion, purpose and deep play that has been astonishing in many ways.

It has also been full of challenges and hard growth. Many times it has brought me to my knees, and still does.

But the path of dreams is not about trying to control life or handing the Universe a shopping list of your small self’s desires and expecting them all to be fulfilled. It is not about safety and security from the perspective of the limited self.

Following your path of dreams is about a deep sense of fulfillment, about connecting with the joy and freedom that are your true nature, and giving the gifts that only you can give.

If you would like to learn the time-tested tools and practices I teach to walk your own heart path, and get expert help on that path, check out my Creative Life Coaching & Creativity Mentoring, and sign up for a free Discovery Session with me.

Your Breakthrough Dream Part II

Your Breakthrough Dream Part II

In my last post, I shared with you the powerful tool of the Breakthrough Dream as a way of co-creating the life your heart desires. If you missed that post, click here to read it first. Today, we continue with part II.

In this post we explore how to discover your Breakthrough Dream, types of dreams, naming your dream clearly and committing to your dream.

How to choose a Breakthrough Dream

Your Breakthrough Dream might be a specific piece of a larger life dream that could be accomplished in a year or so. For instance, if my dream is to be a painter, I might choose to have a gallery show this year.

Or your dream may be something else that feels like it is needed in your life or is calling to you now, such as improving your health or repairing your relationship with your children.

The most important thing is that your Breakthrough Dream will inspire you, feel right, exciting or vital to you, and most likely scare you.

Any dream that is close to our hearts scares us because it matters to us deeply and it asks us to grow. If your Breakthrough Dream does not scare you at all, you may not have the right dream.

Your Breakthrough Dream should not feel heavy or burdensome like something you should do but do not want. Nor should it feel arbitrary, like you are just coming up with something. It should call to you, feel right to you, and feel like it would be wonderful to attain. If you sit with it for a week or two, it should feel clear that this is truly something you deeply desire that is calling to you at this time.

Some questions to help you find your Breakthrough Dream

1) What one single change in some area of your life would represent a leap for you, a breakthrough to a new level of being and living? What would bring you more peace, joy, fulfillment or open up new vistas for you?

2) If you could change one thing in your life that would make the biggest positive difference right now, what would it be?

3) Is there one thing you are really longing for in your life now that, when you think about it, lights you up and probably scares you? Is there something you would love to be, do or have that you are afraid to admit?

To be most easily worked towards, the Breakthrough Dream would be a SMART goal. Your Dream may not fit that criteria and that is fine too. Trust your heart on this.

A SMART goal is:

Specific—it’s clear what the Dream is and it’s singular.

Measurable—an outside person could easily tell whether or not you realized your dream

Attainable/Actionable—it’s humanly possible for you, even if it’s a big stretch and you don’t know how. The A could also stand for Actionable—it’s possible for you to take action toward it.

Relevant—It matters to you, it’s meaningful.

Time-based—You’ve put a time marker on when you’d like to see the Dream accomplished, understanding that life may show up differently.

Some examples of Breakthrough Dreams might be:

  • build a cabin
  • write a draft of a book
  • become vibrantly healthy
  • meet my soulmate
  • have a solo art show
  • go on a 3-month trip to Bali
  • learn to sing
  • explore my creativity
  • start my own business
  • get out of debt
  • discover a career I would love
  • uncover my joy

Beingness dreams and Doingness dreams

Your dream might be a dream that involves doing, such as writing a book or starting a business or going to graduate school, or it might be more of a Beingness dream, such as deepening your connection to Spirit or discovering your true gifts.

Both kinds of dreams are wonderful. It can be harder to find action steps toward a Beingness dream and be clear about how you know if you have reached it, but these can still be excellent Breakthrough Dreams. If you choose a Beingness dream, you will simply need to define some consistent steps you can take toward it, ways to keep it alive in your daily life and cultivate it, and some measures of success or progress for yourself.

You don’t need to know the how

Many great dreams get stopped in their tracks because the dreamer said, “but I don’t know how.” If Martin Luther King, Jr. had said that, we would not have his amazing “I Have a Dream” speech, nor, more importantly, would we have all of the radical actions he took to fulfill that dream.

You do not need to know the how of your dream. You only need to know the what, what your dream is. The dream will show you the how as you declare it and begin to take steps toward it.

Please do not limit yourself to dreams you feel you know you can have—safe, small dreams that neither scare you nor light you up. Do not limit yourself to dreams you are sure are within your power. Notice that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream relies on many people coming together.

Dare to dream big, but dream from the heart and soul, not from your head, not from your hungry ego, not from what the culture-at-large claims success looks like.

Wording the Dream

Come up with a simple statement of the dream that is worded in the present tense, as if you are already living the dream, that includes you in the dream, and that uses emotionally evocative language.

Also, keep the dream focused on one thing. Do not try to cram several dreams into one dream. This sends confused messages to your subconscious and generally yields less potent results.

Here’s an example of one of mine: “I am holding my beautiful published book of poems in my hand. Fierce Aria has been lovingly shepherded into the world by a wonderful press.”

I chose this dream in 2018 as my Breakthrough Dream. My book was accepted by a press in May of 2019. Although I chose a new Breakthrough Dream for 2019 because I felt it was time to choose a Beingness dream, I continued to work on this dream as well. And I am still working on it, as now there is much to do to promote the book. In fact, I might choose bringing the book into the hands of readers as my Breakthrough Dream next year.

Committing to the Dream

Once you have chosen a dream, it is time to commit to it wholeheartedly. Declare your dream to yourself and the universe. Create a ritual of planting your dream seed.

Now the challenge is to keep it in your consciousness and stay in consistent action toward it throughout the year. As I have written elsewhere, it is not enough to get clear on the dream, name it clearly and commit to it, we have to also be in motion toward it. This is our offering to the Universe, which then responds in kind with support, synchronicities, guidance, necessary challenges and blessings. Read my post The Dangers of Wishful Thinking: Nothing Changes If We Don’t Take Action here.

This is where hiring a life coach can be enormously helpful. So that you have the structures, support, skills and accountability that any big dream needs to thrive.

If you are interested in learning more about how working with me as a Creative Life Coach can help you walk your unique heart path, realize your dreams and experience profound breakthroughs in your life, click here to schedule a complimentary Discovery Session with me, and we will explore together.

The Breakthrough Dream

The Breakthrough Dream

The Breakthrough Dream: A Radical Tool To Create the Life Your Heart Desires

In my Creative Life Coaching and in my Living Your Dreams class, I share a potent tool that brings profound focus, momentum and satisfaction to creating your heart’s desires.

That tool is called the Breakthrough Dream.

The Breakthrough Dream is a dream that, if achieved, would be a real breakthrough for you.

At the start of each year I choose a Breakthrough Dream as a focus for the year ahead. I like to choose a dream (desire/goal) that could be accomplished in a year’s time or in a few years at most.

Discovering this tool has led me to co-create dreams that I have deeply longed for and that have brought incredible joy and richness to my life, dreams such as finding and marrying my beloved and getting my book of poems published.

This act of choosing one, and only one, Breakthrough Dream and naming it clearly is radical and powerful in itself. And, for most people, it is quite challenging.

Choosing the Breakthrough Dream does not mean that you give up all other dreams, desires or goals for the year. But it does mean that you choose one primary dream as the core of your focus this year. It requires you to get clear about what is truly in priority for you.

Why do this?

The Power of Focus

focus on the breakthrough dream

Choosing a primary focus for the year and committing to it wholeheartedly aligns our energies. It sends a clear message to the universe.

We are far more likely to invite positive results, when our intention and actions are clear and aligned. Whereas, when we disperse our energies in too many different directions or do not make any choice at all, we are likely to invite mixed results that may not be at all what our heart desires. 

Think of it this way. If I go to the coffeeshop and say to the barista, “I’d like some kind of beverage,” I’m either going to get whatever is easiest for the barista to give me, or more likely, I will get nothing, because she does not know what I really want. It works the same with our heart’s desires.

person in overwhelm

One of the reasons many of us do not have more success co-creating our dreams is because we are so scattered. We refuse (or are afraid) to choose, to narrow our focus, to get clear, and simultaneously we neglect to fully commit to a dream.

Many of us are afraid to commit to a dream for fear of being disappointed or failing or choosing wrong. But that fear keeps us engaging in half-measures and flitting from dream to dream, goal to goal, project to project without ever enjoying the passion and fulfillment of deep engagement and of actually reaching our dreams.

When we choose a Breakthrough Dream, we get our whole self on board. I have found that this level of clarity opens up all kinds of energy and momentum, not only for that dream, but all over my life.

What if it doesn’t come true?

Life is full of surprises and shows up in unexpected ways. But the path of your dreams is not just about fulfilling them. It is about growing into the fullness of who you are.

Your chances of reaping the harvest of your dreams is far greater if you clearly choose and commit to a dream than if you do not. Either way, you will learn and grow a great deal.

Sometimes in the process, you may decide you no longer want the dream. You may discover you were pursuing it out of some motive that does not come from your heart or soul, such as a need to prove yourself to your parents.

In the process of letting it go, you find freedom and a clearer connection to what does matter to you. Or sometimes on the road to your dream, Life shows you a different path. That too is success.

What if I choose the wrong dream?

Moving towards the dreams of your heart and soul is ultimately about growing into the fullness of who you are and sharing your gifts with the world.

This kind of dreaming is about experiencing the innate freedom, wholeness and joy that you are, and transforming what comes in the way of that.

So, when I teach, we practice tuning into our hearts and souls, listening deeply to the still small voice within that is guiding us. And I help you hear what that voice is saying, to name a Breakthrough Dream that has real aliveness and meaning for you.

As you move toward your Breakthrough Dream with clarity, commitment and consistent action, you may find that you no longer want the dream. If you are truly losing interest in it, rather than simply getting scared or losing faith in yourself, then it is time to consciously release the dream and choose a new one. Nothing wrong with that. You have freed yourself of that dream and now have more space within to create what is truly aligned with your heart.

If you feel relief and happiness in letting the dream go, and joy in choosing another, go for it!

But if you find yourself wanting to change your Breakthrough Dream every month, then you need some support in finding what is really in your heart and in releasing the inner blocks that keep you from following it.

What about my other dreams?

When you choose a Breakthrough Dream, you are not abandoning any other dreams, desires or goals. You are simply creating priority and focus. In my experience, priority is a key not only to achieving our dreams, but to living a sane, balanced, joyful life.

We cannot do everything at once. We only have so much time, energy and resources. So we have to make choices. To live a beautiful life, I recommend making choices that come from your heart and soul.

You can work towards multiple dreams, goals and desires in a year. I certainly do. The Breakthrough Dream simply asks you to choose your #1 focus out of those, the one that will give you the most at this time or is the most vital, alive, exciting or important to you now.

In committing to the Breakthrough Dream, I find that I get so much more clear about my priorities throughout my life. I am less likely to over-extend myself. I also find that other dreams, desires and goals gain momentum and have an often magical way of coming to fruition.

In my next post, I’ll share with you how to choose a Breakthrough Dream, the different types of dreams, and how to support the dream coming to life. Stay tuned!

If you are starting out on the path of dreams, seeking your passion, joy and unique gifts, or have come to a crossroads and are wondering what your next step is, there are few better gifts you could give yourself than to sign up for The Artist’s Way. I’m leading a new group in Nevada City.

If you don’t live in the area or are ready for deeper support for your dreams, discover how investing in 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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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.


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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