Create a new Habit: How to bring the simple pattern of joy into your life

sky sunDo you take time to reflect on what you do each day?  Do you hear yourself saying “Why am I so busy,”?  “Why does there never seem to be time for the simple things that are so important to my health, happiness, and well-being,”?  How do we create habits in our lives that bring us joy, support a creative outlet, or rid us of unwanted routines?

Take a Look at Your Daily Routines

What do you do each day that is routine?  Take a moment to write out a typical day.  This could be a journal entry or a day from your diary/planner.  Look at the details.  Read back through your writing, looking closely at how you spend your time-even the smallest details.  Write down what you notice. These are your habits, your daily routines.

What works? What does not work?  What is missing that you might like to add?  Is there a habit within your day that you wish you could drop?

Create a Habit

Habits are ways of building specific day-to-day activities into your life through routine.  We live in a society that wants things NOW, but taking the time to reflect on your day-to-day habits may give you some insights into this rush.  To do this, you must bring your unconscious patterns (habits) into your consciousness (routines).

Creating a habit relies on time, patience, reflection, and repetitive actions. Putting a routine into place that eventually becomes a habit (an unconscious pattern), takes observation and close reflection upon your daily activities. For example, you may brush your teeth at the same time each day, or you may put your keys in the same location to be able to grab them quickly as you go out the door, or you might check your email as soon as you wake up.  It took time, commitment, and repetition to build these habits into your routine.  And now, they are so built into your life they may seem like breathing.

Perhaps you noticed that you have built habits into your life that take up, or waste your time.  What is something that you do routinely that you wish to drop from your life?  Say, eating too much chocolate or sugar, surfing the internet too often, biting your nails, or chewing on pen tops.  How can you rid yourself of these unwanted habits?

Here is a way you can begin to create a habit into your daily routine or rid yourself of a habit that is no longer necessary to your life.

What do you love to do?  What is something that brings you joy and you wish to be a part of your life?  Is there something missing- times when you say, “I wish” or “I wonder,” or “If only,”?  Choose something you wish to make a routine.  Ideas for this would be things you wish to bring into your life each and every day.

Look back through your journal or the exercise from the start of this article.  What is missing that you would like to add? Is there something you have done and enjoyed, but have dropped out of your life?  Keep it simple-just one thing.  You may choose something such as practicing yoga or meditation for 15 minutes each day, or writing in your journal at a specific time each day, or listening to a favorite piece of music or drawing.  Whatever it is, it needs to be important to you and worth the commitment.

On the other hand, what is a habit that you wish to drop? Anything that you do that you could observe and stop doing for a month is worth a look.  Again, keep it to one thing that you really wish to commit to quitting. Again routines took time to establish and will take time to change, should you wish to get rid of them.

Once you have chosen a habit you wish to build into your routine or drop from your routine do the following:

  1. Write it down-this gives focus and clarification
  2. Each day, once you have completed your routine or dropped it for the day, check it off on the calendar.
  3. Take 30 days- check each day off on the calendar as after you have accomplished your commitment for the day. If you miss a day…start over and look to routinizing for the full 30 days.
  4. Observe/Reflect in your journal each day. Do you see a pattern?  Have completed your task each day?
  5. After 30 days-observe/reflect in your journal-What do you notice?
  6. Reflect on any changes.
  7. In your noticing, think back on the first day…what comparisons can you make?  What differences?
  8.  Will you keep this routine?  Have you dropped the habit?  How does it benefit your life?

This exercise can be repeated each time you wish to begin to create a new habit or drop an old one.

Enjoy the little things in your life.  Take time to reflect and find the joy that is yours in each moment. Create a habit.  Why not start now?

Living and Working in the NOW

willowI am taking some time to re-assess.  As you know,  my day- job as an arts consultant will be eliminated.  Here is what is growing out of that.

I have landed a new part-time job in the areas that are of of interest to me; the things I love art, nature and music.

I was talking to a friend recently she brought up how relieving it seemed to her when I told her I had taken on a new role where I went in worked in the “now” and then came home leaving the “work” at work.  I had to agree with her.  For so many years the working and constant focus on doing more with less has become exhausting.

I have actually been wondering about this joy I feel for working in the “now”. 

On the one hand it is challenging to look to new ideas and create them, bring them into action.  If the  leadership is on board and supportive of your mission, this can be exhilarating in a job.  However, it can be exhausting to keep building, shifting and creating new ideas, if you never really receive the support from leadership.  Sometimes this is happening and you may be unaware of it until something happens to bring that information right into your awareness.

Why not move on if a job is becoming exhausting and not in-line with your own truth?  Several reasons, but the big one may be pay…so you stay.

Then, when you are asked to leave the pay… panic sets in. FEAR!

However, I have been thinking about Luna Jaffe’s book Wild Money.  What does money mean to me anyway?  And as I calm down into this question, I see that I need to pay the bills, support the kids…eat!  And when I look at what this actually costs (yep, getting to know that budget!)  I see that it is really not all that much money needed to live.  I can assess what I will owe each month, acknowledge what gets cut or suspended and what just goes because it is really something I am hanging on to and needs to be released.

So I began a new part-time job.  This supports the crazy voices of “fear” that are cropping up and brings in some extra money to support.  Plus, I can live in that moment of being in service to others.  This is calming to me.

I had a mentor that spoke of the “panic” to just jump into another job to make money instead of putting focus on my own business.  Let me tell you I thought about this for years and years. I remained stuck in the job I am now leaving.  I worked on my own business tirelessly, but it has only grown to a certain point.

The truth is, I enjoy working with others in a JOB setting and even as I write this, I think is that an excuse to avoid my own business?  No.  Here’s why…

I had tons of time to focus on my own business while working my (soon to be eliminated) job. I could have taken SO many steps to grow it bigger.

Why didn’t I?  and why now…do I not jump full on into my own business?

I have been pondering this.  The truth is, I DO need to make money.  A job gives me that.  I work.  I get paid.  Simple.

Creating and running a business?  I work.  I might get paid.  At this point in my life, I need the reliable steady income.

And you know what is happening?  I see income surfacing.  I am working part-time jobs in the fields that I love and enjoy.  And you know what else?  I can leave if I need or want to.

And!  I am getting my enthusiasm back for singing and with my husband in WoodSong and encouraged to grow my business the way I want without the pressure to MAKE money.

Wow…a relief…

Plus, working these part time jobs relaxes my brain.  I can enjoy the moments in environments that are sustaining and I am also around people I really like and genuinely want to support.  Shifts and changes in mindset.  Setting the intentions to be in service.

This is where I am right “now”.  Seeing my life as it unfolds.  Setting intentions to bring positive income into my life.  Continuing to work on my own creative business, but not making myself crazy with worry over finances.

Growing into who I am at this point in my life.  What about you?  How do your balance your creative life and work?

Cycle of Creativity

photo(23)Do you ever notice that creativity has a cycle…like in nature?  Sometimes it is within moments, or days.  Sometimes it is much longer. The gentle nurturing of the creative self means taking a look at this cycle of creativity.  And taking time and energy needed to nurture the cycle.

This cycle starts for me as a wonderful new idea, goes into a million directions, gets put out into the world in some form.  Then,  the idea is released, or let go moves into a meditative time to nurture and incubate….to return once again to the start of the cycle.

The cycle of creativity looks like this to me when compared to the natural cycles of the earth:
Seed (idea)
Growth (building and creating on that idea)
Blossom (the idea takes a form)
Decline (the idea is completed in a form, and sent out)
Death (the idea is gone, separated from the creator)
Incubation (a new idea is preparing to arise)

Observing the creative cycle in my own work has given me some valuable insights. 
Much of my creating is inspired by nature.  Nature brings me peace, and healing.  It is important for me to share this joy with others through a variety of means. Sometimes I write, sometimes I draw or paint, dance, sing, create melodies or act out the drama.   I enjoy reflecting on the cycles of the universe and our earth through my work.
What type of “creating” fits into this cycle for you?

After I observe the creative cycle in my own life, I begin to notice the cycles within the cycles.  Here is what I mean:
Seed/Growth/Blossom/Death:
To me, whether the work is seen by another in the beginning stages of the cycle of creativity does not really matter.  It is in working within the cycle itself that is important.
So, I find that I cycle around by getting the “seed” idea, growing the seed idea, getting the seed idea to blossom…then, many times the idea declines and death appears before I actually share my creative work with anyone else.
That is alright.  They process of the creative cycle is endless… round like a seed full of life.

Growth/Blossom/Incubating:
I can get lost in the re-creating of the beauty I see and experience in nature.
One of the consequences of creating is getting lost in an idea and not knowing when to stop.  Have you ever had that happen?  You are creating and creating and it is just not quite the way you want it?  Then, cycle goes round and round and you have to jump off and just call it DONE!  This creating is usually full of energy and inspiration.  It can also be overwhelming…but is always exhilarating!
I can internally analyze my creative ideas and they can become overwhelming. At these times, I feel that my creative ideas are “incubating”.  Running around, piling up, too many…too much!  I need to take time to acknowledge them.  Put them in a safe place to bring out later, when the time may be just right…the ground more fertile.

Decline/Death:
Occasionally, creating feels wonderful at the start, but it sometimes brings change or disruption which can be difficult and a bit scary.
Emotions and past events are revealed when we create. Whether it is the “nasty” voice inside your head, real words that were spoken to you that were difficult to hear, or you tap into a subconscious thought which may or may not be articulated any other way but through creating.
This can cause us to shut down…a form of declining, or death.  It can also bring in wonderful ideas for creating that lead to finished work.  The fulfillment of getting the creation outside of ourselves leaves a new space to be filled. Death of an idea that is now ready to be shared with the world.  We can move on to a new creative endeavor….using the dried and dusty remains to create anew.

There are many ways the creative cycle plays out.  I have given a few examples based on my observations.    I wonder what you think.  How do you keep your creative cycle flowing and spiraling?

What I Learned about Vulnerability from Singing

photo(230)I have been singing my whole life.  It brings me joy to let my voice flow out in song.  Singing is a form of grace for me.

Then why am I resistant so often to get up on the stage and sing?

Sometimes, I do not wish to sing.  Sometimes I am annoyed and want to stay quiet and go within.  Sometimes I feel stuffy and my singing sounds bad.  These are a couple of things that show up when I am preparing myself to sing.

And then, add to that singing with my husband in our vocal duo WoodSong.  A whole new layer of issues arises for me. Such as, our relationship “stuff”, differences in practicing schedule planning, our different working styles for bringing in new music and the worry about being good enough. You would think after years of working together, that that would dissipate.  But it doesn’t.

It is one thing to wrestle with your own demons when you work by yourself, and still another to join in with one more vulnerable soul.  Top that off with putting yourselves out there in front of a crowd for everyone to actually see and experience your vulnerability.  Some days it is surprising to me that I even sing at all!

But I do sing out…and I love it!

Here is what happened recently as I took time to reflect (while singing at a recent gig!).

Standing on the stage as we began some of the thoughts that run through my mind were these:

Are there enough people here?

Will they leave if we are terrible?

Will they like us or are they here to judge us?

We have been asked to turn it down already!

Those first few notes we sang…uggg…!

There are emotions attached to every moment while thinking these random thoughts. While singing, I have to smile through it ALL and deal with the emotions that come up while staying true to the music.  I want to communicate with the audience the emotions and feelings that are within the music.

Then, my mind begins talking, taking me out of my singing zone and messing with me physically; meaning I lose focus on the mechanics of singing and start to falter.  My singing partner, (my husband!) looks at me and sends me messages with his eyes. (What does THAT look mean???) All of this is happening while singing in front of a group of people who I feel are judging me.  It can be exhausting…

However, from what I know about those voices that crop up, I find that it is MY projection of how I feel I am singing.  Those thoughts of how I am feeling are all in MY mind.   I start to see that I project my own thoughts and emotions onto others in the audience and also my singing partner.

During that same gig, I began to think about stage performers and anyone who stands in front of an audience to perform or present.

We have NO idea what they have just been through before they stepped onto the stage.  We have NO idea how they prepared for this presentation. We cannot get into their heads.  All we have is our own perceptions which come from our own experiences. And we “sense” their emotion through their body language and/or the emotions they attach to their performance.  But we can only make assumptions…and usually, they are false.

We only have the thoughts in our own mind.  I only know what I am thinking. Sometimes performers touch our hearts with their singing, acting, presenting and sometimes not.  However, that is OUR perception based on what we need at the time.  They are being vulnerable each time they stand in front of us to share a bit of themselves with us.  And this is enough.

Back to being that vulnerable performer.

What I have discovered is that it is about setting intention as I step onto the stage.  I decide how I will BE.  What I must HAVE to be prepared for a performance.  Then, what I will DO to create this moment in time for myself and the audience.

You can be as prepared as you want.  However, there are always outside forces to be met with.  The audience and their energy, your own issues that you bring to the stage and any partnership you are in as you perform.

Vulnerable, vulnerable, vulnerable…

Yet, when you set the intention to give your best performance from where you are right now, it is just that.

Your best.

…and that is all that we can ask of ourselves.

Ways to Stay Positive When You Are Moving Through Fear

bootsWhen you are worrying, you are planning.  When you are appreciating you are planning.  What are you planning?

~Abraham

Daily ritual I follow…

  1. Write in the morning
  2. Keep your rituals in place
  3. Remember what you have set in motion
  4. Watch for self-sabotage and shift it with affirmations
  5. Smile at yourself In the mirror
  6. know your affirmations, say them, sing them, write them
  7. Do one, simple creative thing each day
  8. Reflect

It is interesting to be at this point in my life where I have been nudged out of a situation that no longer serves, but am scared witless that I will be left destitute.

I want to retreat.

But then I think of all of the times, from the safety of hiding behind my job with cash flow, I would encourage others to create.  Now that the comfort of my job and cash flow is dwindling soon to be gone I want to hide out!  I am angry at creating and I want to banish it as a waste of time.  I see what everyone has been saying to me over the years when I invited them to create daily: “I have to make money, Susan!  I cannot waste my time creating!”

Then, I hear all of the media and politicians blathering on and on about creating jobs…”Don’t waste your time on the arts…” they say, it brings up so much fear for me.

Wow. Wait a minute…

Haven’t I spent my entire life creating?  Haven’t  I  found work and connections over the years through my own creative endeavors?  Haven’t I discovered that creating, singing, dancing, writing and  painting have supported me both emotionally and monetarily?  These acts of using my imagination have opened the world to me.

I have found ways to stand in my beliefs and create a life that is full and rich and joyous.

It is now time to encourage myself to hold true to my morning ritual of writing.  To sing and dance even when I feel like crawling into a hole and hiding from my fears.  It is time to practice what I preach …while being here, now,  at my most vulnerable.

I am creating my life.  What I have set in motion is unfolding into my next steps.  Whatever you’re thinking, whatever you are doing in this moment is literally planning the future event s of your life.  Be in the moment.  Be mindful of now.  Embrace your creativity and imagination even when you are vulnerable and scared.  Now.

When you are worrying, you are planning.  When you are appreciating you are planning.  What are you planning?

~Abraham