Elemental Observations~Spring 2017

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el·e·men·tal

ˌeləˈmen(t)l/
adjective
adjective: elemental
 
1.  Primary or basic.  “elemental features from which all other structures are compounded”
                synonyms:  basic, primary, fundamental, essential, root, underlying
  • What if you took 5 minutes each day to look for the simple art elements that are all around you?
  • Where do you walk each day?  Is it with intention?  Or do you just meander?
  • How do you “create every day” when you are so busy?

 These are the constant questions that I ask myself on a daily basis.  In answer to these questions, I find tiny moments in each day to notice, really notice what is around me through the lens of my camera.  My phone camera…I love that I can do this!  I am so grateful that I have this tool at my finger tips!  Do you have a camera with you each day?

I so enjoy looking for the art elements that show up all around me.  I spent last summer and fall finding these elements and posting them in  tiny “collages”.  The response to those simple images was amazing.  Something so simple that touched others so deeply.  I love this and created and e-course around it last fall.

Now that it is spring, I want to get out and look for those art elements again!  I want to take time each day to observe and delight in the newness that surrounds me!  Want to join me?

I am opening Elemental Observations:  #EO2017 on May 1, 2017 to invite you to “walk with me” and look for the art elements that are all around you.  This course will last 21 days and will have a private Facebook group so that we can connect with one another to see what we discover as we notice the elements that are in the mundane things we pass by each day.

 
 
 
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What you will receive:
 
1.  Daily emails for 21 days inviting you to notice certain elements for that day (starting May 1, 2017)
2.  An invitation to a private Facebook group to share what you “see”
3.  Intentional focus using any camera that you have available to you daily
 

Simple.  Clear.  Elemental observations.
 
21 Days for $21.00. 
 
Click the button below to register:
 
 



My Creative Self

 
APJY6341A while ago, I spent time working with a creativity coach. She helped me to really connect back to the essence of my creative self.

How did she do this?

Many amazing hours connecting via phone, sharing assignments to dig deeper into my creativity and she listened. She really listened.

While there were many thoughts and activities that remain with me from that experience, there are two that I cycle back to most regularly. I am going to describe one of those activities for you here. (The other, I will fill you in on next week.)

My coach said, “Write down what you love to do.”

That was it.

And so I wrote.

I wrote during my morning pages, I wrote in the afternoon and evening. I wrote down “things I love to do” on note cards, napkins, scraps of envelopes in the car…I wrote anytime I thought of something that I loved to do.

I purchased a special notebook in which I transferred all of my jottings. I keep it near me still.
What I discovered from this experience was that I truly enjoyed very simple things…petting the cats, taking a long walk, tea in the morning, a ray of sunshine…this surprised me. I thought I would have written big, lofty things on that list.

But no…

The simple joys of small things is what I truly love.

I go back to this list when I get crazy and frenzied. I re-read it. I choose one of those “things I love” and I put it into my daily practice. I notice how something that simple can change the way I get through a day.

My question for you is …What is on your “list of things you love to do”?”

Finding Your Own Unique Voice

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Do you ever have those times when it is difficult to find your own voice?  When you wish to speak up, but stop just short of sharing your thoughts?  When you know you have something valuable to share…but you remain mute?

How do you find your own voice?

Take a moment to reflect back on the questions above.  What is happening when you wish to speak up but don’t?  How do you feel when this happens?  What stories does it bring to mind?  Reflecting back on thoughts and feelings may give you insights in to what may be being “triggered” when this happens.

Think back on what it is that forms your true values.  What do you believe in?  What can you stand behind because it is your truth?  What is ultimately important to you?

Discovering your values will help you to find your voice.  Here is a list of 5 tasks to help you realize your true values:

  1. Write out what you believe is true about you….your unique self
  2. Read back through what you have written
  3. Circle the words or phrases that show up most often…or words that truly resonate within you
  4. Pick 10 words that describe the essence of your values
  5. Type up that list and print it out

Find a place to keep this list of 10 words.  Put it where you will see it every day.  Reflect back on these words and their deeper meaning for you.  Keep it in view for a month.  Check back on these words that show your values daily.  Think on each word.  What deeper meaning does each word hold for you?

Now, when you are in another situation where you are hesitant to speak, remember your values.  Think about your words.  Which ones will you use to find your voice?

How about joining in the 21 Day Mini-Marketing session?  Find your voice and learn ways to promote your creative work!  Click here to learn more and to register.

That Nasty Voice Inside my Head

I find when I begin the next phase in a creative cycle or start to market for a new e-course there is that voice that shows up.  Do you know that voice?  The one that attempts to take you off your path?  That voice that speaks to you in mean tones?  The one that you wish would quiet down so that you can create?

I have come up against this voice many times.  The voice is back these days as new challenges arise in my life.  I am listening and seeing that the things the voice is saying now are different than they were years ago.

Let me explain.   A few years back, I worked with a wonderful creativity coach.  She invited me to “draw” the voice that was constantly chattering as I worked on new creative projects.

Below is a blog post from that session:

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I took some time in my morning pages writing to get started on the exercise of drawing the gremlin/nasty voice from my head.

What I discovered, is that the initial drawings I created were images from my dreams.  Those visions I saw after giving birth to my children that were scary, but fascinating.  The more recent dreams I wrote about all had male figures, shape-shifters, disappearing and re-appearing images, black and white, shadows, angels/devils/gargoyles, half-formed creatures.  These images, I have discovered, are actually here to help me somehow.

Even though these images were a bit frightening, they were not the “nasty” voice in my head.

So, I took more time to go into my mind and find that “nasty” voice.   It took me a while to get there, as I was very resistant to write about that voice.

When I finally got to the vicious words and thoughts that I call “the nasty voice inside my head”, I wrote and wrote.

This is the voice that tells me I am not good enough, not worthy, not OK…blah, blah, blah.  It is a SHE and very nasty.  She has a forked tongue, fiery, sharp nails, beautiful (she believes), red-haired (not sure why), coifed, buggy-red bloodshot eyes…I have drawn her, colored her in, and enclosed her in an actual glass bottle and I have sealed the bottle with heavy foil…a rubber band and a lovely golden bow…and put her into the cupboard!  So there!!!!

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Stay in there!

I am now starting to see which are the helpful and cautious voices and which are the nasty voices.
[End of blog post]

Re-reading this past blog post is showing me that the “nasty voice” has changed.  The image I created and placed in the bottle has quieted down.  She is no longer distracting me with her words.  Soon, I will take the old image of the nasty voice out of the bottle.

There is a new “nasty voice” that is in need of being heard and drawn.  This one is slicker…more savvy.  She knows to go right for the issues at hand:  “No one wants what you have to offer.  You are too old, face it!  You need to go back to the reality of “playing small” and get over it.”  Whew…she is a tough one…touching on my fears and I begin to listen…oh oh…Time to get out the markers!

Each time I grow and challenge myself creatively, a new “nasty voice” emerges.  I believe this will occur each time I reach a new level of discovery.  As difficult as it may be, I will begin to write the words I hear; those words that are attempting to distract me from my creative path.  Then, I will replace the old image with the new image I create of the “nasty voice”.   I will let you know how that goes!

For now, I am wondering if you have ever drawn the “nasty voice” from inside your head?  Will you try that now?

Cycle of Creativity

winter walkDo 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?

March~My Month of Oak Leaf

IMG_9726The omen that showed up for March during the #12DaysofChristmasOmens was the oak leaf.  

This month of March started yesterday with my father posing the question out loud, but to himself, “Dave, what have you done with your life?”  I asked my dad to fill me in…what HAD he done with is life?  What was truly important to him? And he had an immediate answer…he loves computers (anything technological).  He also loved his time as a teacher at a local college and tutoring kids to read.  (And I know that he passed these loves to his children through his caring and adoration of us along with many other creative things he did not mention…but I did.)

We spoke of actual “things” he did, but for me, the deeper knowing was that he was questioning his true self.  

See, my dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimers. He and my mom are working through the shifts and changes that are present with this disease.  So, to have this time with my father where he is asking the big questions…well, this is profound for me.  To allow him to speak and for me to listen is a gift.  I have always wanted my dad to see me as the daughter who did great things! That made him proud with my work ethic and job and vitality!  But this is changing for me, too.

There is a falling away of the outward need to prove myself.  And a growing joy for bringing forth the creativity and simple joy for the natural cycle of life.  The beauty of truly living in the moment, whatever is brings.

The oak leaf represents this for me.

The oak leaf begins as a green, soft leaf from an acorn in the spring.  As time goes by, the leaf becomes more hearty, building strength, becomes a darker green with firm brown veins.  By fall, it hangs onto the tree branch with tenacity…I see this as a bit of a difficult time to let go.  Then, it eventually falls to the ground.  Before it decomposes and becomes new soil, I see the strong shape of the old oak leaf when the winter snows melt.  It remains hearty, shiny and brown on the ground.  It reminds me of the bones or remains that still hold their shape for a long time.  Until finally, it loses the bits and pieces, the veins finally break down, or it becomes mush in the new spring thaw.  Back to the earth…back to support and nourish the next generation.

What have you done with your life?  Lived it…living it…being present in this moment as the gift that it is.  The oak leaf will be my image and reminder for this month of March.  My reminder that a  life well lived is simple, strong, lets go and allows for what comes next.

 

Sunday Check-In Accountability Group Begins April 15, 2017

sunday check in account group imageSunday Check-In Accountability Group:

A three month accountability group facilitated by Susan Loughrin runs
April 15-July 15, 2017

Creativity takes time, space and energy.  In order to make that time happen, there are ways that we can support our underlying structure and build in that time we need. One of those ways is placing focus on our weekly “to-do” or priority list.  I know what you are saying… “What does a “to-do” list have to do with creativity?

Let me ask you a question or two…

  • How do you make more “time” in your day to create?
  • What does a typical day or week look like for you?
  • How often do you reflect on your week to see where your time goes?
  • What would it take for you to hold yourself accountable to your own “time”?

Take a moment to answer those questions before you read on. What do you notice?

Allow me to now say that there IS a way to get this time and structure into your daily life so that you have more time to create!

What people are saying…

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We are adult people with jobs, responsibilities, and tasks galore.  Very often, there is more to be done in a week that we can reasonably accomplish. So why one more thing?  Why a check-in group?
The Sunday Check-In group is a space just for YOU and your creative goals.  For me, the Sunday Check-In Group gently holds me accountable to showing up for myself in the midst of the busy-ness of life.

It keeps my goals for creativity within my weekly routine, rather than as a dream that might be fulfilled “when I eventually have the time.” 

My writing life has become less of a fringe notion and more of practice that I embrace in my day-to-day life, because I know that Susan and my mastermind buddies will be waiting for me, cheering me on from cyberspace.  The check-in group helps me to keep my writing practice alive, one goal, one priority, one week at a time.  

The Sunday Check-In group is like a virtual artists’ colony. . . it’s filled with like-minded makers. . . . writers, artists, scholars, crafters, musicians. . . who benefit from the solidarity of knowing that they are not in this pursuit alone.  We have other makers from all over the world walking along side of us, excited to see what our artist friends have created and accomplished this week.

 Jennifer Pett

JenniferPett.com

How do you set your intention to ensure that you make time for your creative work?

I am forming a new Sunday Check-In Accountability group for you! This will be a place where you can be held accountable for your weekly planning. This group will be a safe place to center each week and reflect on how you wish to spend your time.

Ready to register now?




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Here is the outline of the Sunday Check-In clearly laid out:

Sunday Check-in
Each week you will receive a “reminder” email on Saturday for the “Sunday Check-In” to write the following:

  • 3 “priorities” you wish to pursue for the week

  • one question you have about your creative journey to pose to the group

How the group will work:

    • You will be added to a private Facebook group page (This will be our communication connection to list those 3 “priorities” each week. You will need to have a Facebook account.)

    • The group will be facilitated by me, Susan Loughrin with a mid-week check in and an end of the week “reflection” time

    • Each week you will receive an audio recording by Susan that will lead you though the “how” and the “why” of setting priorities each week

    • Each week you will receive an meditation audio to support your mindfulness throughout each week OR a video with tips to support your work that have been tested over the past 7 years

    • The group will run April 15-July 15, 2017

    • Investment:  $197.00

       

Ready to join in?

vicki CM photo

I have really enjoyed being a part of Susan’s Sunday Check-in group. I found it really useful to have accountability from stating my goals for the week to Susan and the group and the checking in mid-week and again at the end of the week to see what progress I have made.

I joined the Sunday Check-in to help me make progress on my own photography business which happened without really having any specific focus on it. I have moved from feeling like I was not moving forward on anything creative in my life.

Now with Susan and the check-in group’s support I have attracted photography clients without having do to any marketing and I find I have more time to paint, collage and now I have started a scrapbooking course too! And for Christmas I was given new watercolour paints so I have been learning a new medium which has been lots of fun. All this has come from spending time consciously focusing on how I spend my time and spotting small windows of time to be creative. This is especially important as a mother to two young children.

The other lovely surprise that has come from participating in this group is the deep friendships and connections I have made with people from all over the world. Susan’s Sunday Check-In group has given me inspiration, support, relaxation from the amazing meditations and I have learnt more about myself from the weekly tasks. It has been a valuable part of my journey and I am so grateful to Susan for holding this space.

Vicki Clubley Moore
vickiclubleymoore.weebly.com  

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This group will run from April 15-July 15, 2017 on a private Facebook page.

The support and wisdom of others around us keeps us energized and grounded as we travel forward. This accountability group will be a chance for you to connect with one another and continue to learn and grow over the next few months; holding yourself accountable to your own creative goals and getting you that time into your schedule to create!

What people are saying…

The Sunday Check-in helped me to focus on what I wanted to accomplish and to set reasonable goals for my creative work. Before I began the Sunday Check-in, I would set too many goals for the week leaving me feeling like I had failed to accomplish all the things I had planned to do.

For me I am a very goal orientated person, so if I tell a group of people I am going to do something, I do it.  Working in an accountability group allowed me to see others go through a life struggle and keep on track with  their goals; that is inspiring.

Limiting my check-in list to 3 things in the Sunday Check-in made it something I could accomplish and feel good at the end of the week for completing the goals.

The Sunday Check-in structure is great!  Each Sunday’s “Thinking” (planning) time allowed me to think about what I wanted to accomplish and focus on during that week. This set me up to focus my energy on my goals allowing me to focus my energy and have a plan.  Making actions and activities line up with my goals was a great way to make “TIME” in my busy life. I spent my time more efficiently.

 I am called to create and share that love of creating art with others. So focusing my energy on my priorities in that direction helps me to resist distracting energy sucking activities.

While Being a part of the Sunday Check-ins, many wonderful creative life changing projects were completed. One wonderful thing after the other. I will definitely be a part of Susan’s group again. Well worth it. Best bonus is I was able to connect with some amazing new friends.


Maggie Bandstra, Artist

If this sounds like an accountability group you would like to be a part of as you journey forward creating your life what are you waiting for?

Register here!




You will be meeting many new people of like-mind and holding a space for each other to create the “time” to do what you love.Still wondering if this is the right choice for you? Take a look a some of the benefits below…

Why be a part of this accountability group?

  • The Sunday Check-In Accountability group is simple and doable
  • The focus is on making time work FOR you
  • By connecting to your priorities each week, you create your life
  • By reflecting on your time spent focused on your priorities, you free up time for your creative journey
  • You will “see” how you spend your time
  • You will be holding yourself accountable to yourself
  • You will be supported by one another with combined wisdom

What people are saying….


I’ve participated in Sunday Check-in with two different groups that Susan has led.

When I first started, my intentions for each week were quite ambitious and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to achieve them.  Having to check-in each Sunday and then twice during the week really helped me to be accountable

I also kept my weekly intentions visible as I write them on 3×5 index cards and carry them around with me in my day planner.  Examples of intentions, or I labeled them priorities, could be as simple as going to Yoga a specific number of times each week, plan out healthy meals for the week, or even attend a Weight Watchers meeting!  These priorities all reminding me to focus on my health. 

Many weeks also include time for creativity or my photography hobby. 

There is something about writing it down, keeping it in front of you.  Writing about my intentions and successes in my journal during the week and reminders from Susan a couple of times a week has really helped me focus and as I mentioned, really holds me accountable. 

Others in our group are also a great encouragement and I feel like I have made some life-long friends even though most of us have never met in person. 

~Renae Hesselink
 
Join NOW!
 




I am excited to connect with you all, see if this will be a fit for you and get to know you a little better! Feel free to respond to this email if you have any questions.
Warmly,
Susan

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21Days of Gratitude

 

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Getting back to a gratitude journal practice has supported my calmness in this rapidly shifting time.  Taking the time to notice and appreciate all that is around me is a beautiful practice that lightens up my days.

It sounds simple…write a list of things I am grateful for each morning and each evening.  However, I find that it can be a challenge.  I sometimes do not want to write, even though I know how much better I feel when I do.

So, that got me thinking about you.  Do you have a gratitude journal practice?  Are you looking for some encouragement to write what you appreciate each morning and evening?  Would you like to receive email reminders each day for 21 days to be supported in this practice…see where it leads?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, sign up below*.  Starting March 1, I will send you a reminder each day to encourage you to write a list of your gratitudes each day for 21 days.

Click here to join the list!

You will need a journal (I like sparkly ones!) and a pen or pencil.  That is all.  We will use the hashtag #21daysofgratitude2017 to connect on Instagram (if you wish).

I will start by reminding you that I am grateful for you 🙂
Hope to see you!
Susan

*I will add you to my main newsletter list at the end of the 21 days.  You can unsubscribe at any time 🙂

One Simple Thing Each Day

IMG_9467Take the time each day to do something that you enjoy. One simple thing that truly brings you joy. You deserve it, you matter!

I hear you say, “I am just too busy! How can I possibly add one more thing to my schedule? Really! Who does she think she is talking to? She must not have kids…she must not work…”

I know the drill. I hear you, and I have said all of these things before (and still do, sometimes!) But there are some things to remember….

Remember that you are important. Remember that you set your schedule. Remember that you need to re-connect with the earth beneath your feet. Remember to breathe.

You can create a daily routine that brings joy into each new day. This will support you in bringing one simple thing each day into your daily routine. Here are the three steps to do just that:

1. Noticing:

Take 5 minutes each day just to notice. Stop what you are doing. Set your timer. What do you hear? What do you see? What do you smell? What do you taste? What do you feel? What do you notice?

2. Create a List of the things that bring you joy:

Get out your journal, or a piece of paper, whatever you use to write and create a list. List out all of the things that bring you joy; all of the those tiny, simple things that make you sigh, or smile or just feel joyful inside. Put this list where you can see it every day. Keep it close. This is the essence of you.

3. One Simple Thing Each Day:

Set a time into your schedule. 15 minutes. The first 5 are from step one above. The next 10 minutes are to be used doing something from your list above. Get out your day-planner. Find 15 minutes each day. Put in that time for yourself each day. Do it now. You are worth it

Notice how this changes your day. Learn what really brings you joy. Enjoy 15 minutes every day…you have it in your schedule now. You matter. You are important to us all.

*21 Days of Gratitude begins March 1!  A *free* connection to remind us all to pause and say “thank you”.  Want more information?  Click here.

February My Month of Crow

crowI took time between December 26 and January 6 to notice “omens” each morning.  This was through the #12daysofchristmas focus; what showed up each day as I set the intention to notice became the image for that day and subsequent month.  The month of January was “fog”.

This month of February will be “crow”.

I have actually seen crows every day of February already.  Also, a good friend posted a video for me of the crows that were cawing raucously in the trees (she knows that crow is this month’s focus for me :)) 

What do I believe “crow” holds for me this month?

  1.  Focus on the stark, black silhouette of contrast
  2. Allowing bright, shiny objects to be noticed and placed on the alter
  3. Crafty ways for seeing things
  4. Clarity and connection to others in groups

These are my interpretations based on what the crow signifies to me.  I will allow these ideas to be present this month as I go about my work.  I love the sleek, black feathers of the crow and will look for the contrast of darkness and light…both are important and valuable to life.  This also invites me to take off the rose colored glasses and really see things as they are.

Clarity.  Focus.  Contrast. Connection.

I can already see the clarity manifesting in the business focus I am creating for my own creative work.  Groups are forming and tribes for this coming year are stepping into place.  The shine of “new” and focus on building together is becoming clear to me.  

I am opening the 21 Day Mini-mastermind on February 6, 2017.  The perfect way to begin this month of “crow” focus.  This group is coming together as a growing group of “crows” alighting in the trees and ready to communicate together.  Will you be joining in?