Creative Pathfinder- Learnings, Weeks 13-16

Posted on | February 15, 2011

I’m actually on Week 20 of the course, but catching up w/ my reviews. These four lessons are all about one of the most important aspects of your business: money – marketing, selling, negotiating, and managing. This is valuable guidance so Thank-You, as always, to Mark McGuinness for offering it.

Lesson 13
Topic = Marketing in the Web

Insights

  • When working on marketing, as an entrepreneur, it’s so important to “know thyself.” Because,

If you don’t know why people should be paying attention to you, it’s hard to persuade them to do so.

-Mark McGuinness

  • Good headlines are what grab readers’ attention, and short, succinct, helpful paragraphs are what keep them reading.
  • What I’m hearing time and time again is: in order to build a name for yourself/your business, to get people interested, it really helps to give away some things (of Real Value) for free. When I think about some of the products I’ve benefited from (like this course, and Chikara-Reiki-Do’s Sunday chat, for example), these are now trusted and respected resources, and the first places I will go when I want to make a purchase in their area of expertise. Free e-books are a popular, and effective, way for web businesses to give a “taste” of their offerings.
  • Getting on the radar of influentials will grow your reach organically. Just like I ask those who visit my sites to take a moment and comment/share, I need to (and am beginning to) reach out and connect with those whose sites I visit/learn from/enjoy. Energy flows both ways!

Actions

In order to get the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior online, you need to become an authority that others cite (link to) in their online content. Which means, of course, you need a content-rich website that demonstrates your authority in the first place.
-Brian Clark

  • Publish more! Get that editorial calendar up and running again and follow it. Since last month’s BABS (Bay Area Bloggers Society) meeting, Suzanna Stinnett’s white board daily calendar method has been a recurring vision for me. I’m very visual so a physical daily schedule I can write on in colorful markers, and look at whenever my eyes need a break from the computer, sounds appealing and fun! (I’ve got my eye on a nice one at Staples.)
  • Keep working on the first e-book concept (in conjunction with the new site which we’re developing.)
  • Offer to write a guest blog post.

Lesson 14
Topic = Selling, What and Why

Insights

  • When we are clear about our interests and passions, and align our work accordingly, it is much easier to stay motivated and committed.

…before you start worrying about products and services, benefits and features, offers and objections, stop and ask yourself: “Why am I doing this? Who am I here to help? What problem can I solve for them?”
-Mark McGuinness

  • Discovering our purpose comes through combining those interests and passions with problems we see around us and want to solve.

What I am interested in/enjoy + What is meaningful + People/Problems needing help= My Purpose

  • Whether we’re an employee, entrepreneur,or artist, we all need to sell our products/services/brand in order to generate income. Knowing our audience/clients/customers, really listening to them, and understanding their needs/desires (through asking plenty of questions), is essential to the sales process.
  • Know the features of your products/services but then move beyond that and emphasize and illustrate the benefits. Mark suggests a good way to do that, by asking these questions:

What’s in it for them?
Why should they care?

  • In order to sell, we have to make an offer and give people an easy way to make a purchase. Don’t expect it to happen automatically

Actions

  • Regularly remind myself of the problems I am solving and people I am helping.
  • Problems I am solving:

Ineffective/poor/unproductive/negative/lacking: communication and project management/coordination/facilitation

People not recognizing their personal power and ability to be holistically healthy and happy, not opening up and embracing their best and brightest potential.

  • People I am helping:

Individuals/groups/orgs/teams/communities who will benefit from my communications/project management and personal empowerment assistance

Lesson 15
Topic = Negotiating Through Life

Insights

  • We are continuously negotiating in life, not just at work but also with friends, family, and the people we encounter in a given day. The better we understand the process, the more we get what we want, And make other people happy too.
  • It is always important to have multiple options – the power of choice. Viewing the situation from the other sides/perspectives, and with an open mind, can open up new options.
  • Know the value of your products and services. This involves researching the market and distinguishing yourself.
  • Look for common ground, areas of agreement, and start there.

The key to a successful negotiation is to ferret out everyone’s interests so you can maximize the outcome for everyone. This is easier said than done, since most people hold their interests close to the vest, believing this gives them a stronger negotiating position. But oftentimes this strategy is misguided, because in actuality what you want might be right in line with what the other party wants.
-Tina Seelig

Action

  • Keep all these pointers in mind as I negotiate through life.

Lesson 16
Topic = Healthy Cash Flow

Insights

  • In order for cash to flow positively, you must have an effective means of keeping track of it. The more you understand the sources and trends of its inward and outward flow, the better you can manage it.
  • I agree with Sarah Selwall (guest author for this lesson) that a monthly review/reconciling session is a very good idea. I have a recurring appointment for that on my google calendar, the last Sunday of the month. During that time I add all monthly business expenses to my spreadsheet. (Once a week, also on Sundays, I process the week’s receipts and file them accordingly.) I find it much easier to manage at that frequency.
  • And I also heartily agree that being organized with receipts (I use an accordion folder with slots for each month, separating business and personal receipts) cuts down on headaches when you review/reconcile.
  • By analyzing the flow (where’s the money coming from, where’s it going, etc, etc) we can develop smart action plans.
  • Taking control of our finances via a well-organized, efficient, user-friendly system, and clear goals and action steps, gives us the power to be financially healthy and strong.

Goals are the fundamental building blocks of success, not just in personal finance, but in every area of life. Without goals, you are living reactively, letting life push you around. With goals, you can live a proactive life, steering toward a destination. When you have an end in mind, it’s easier to see when you’ve made a wrong turn. You know where your path is supposed to lead.
-J.D. Roth

Actions

  • Continue researching/trying out financial management software/tools and transition to a system which integrates with my bank accounts and incorporates analysis, which my .xls spreadsheet does not. (I use Mint and really like it as a cloud based tool, but I need to play around with it more for tracking business specific expenses. Another issue is there’s no invoicing option…)

A Manger in the Heart

Posted on | January 20, 2011

Being in a new place, just starting to fertilize this ground and root down, J and I don’t really have local communities yet. Forming and contributing to them is one of our primary focuses in the new year. Like many people, though, I find myself craving that sense of connection/sharing/belonging during the holidays. And despite my choosing to release much of what I learned via a Catholic upbringing, and my distaste for any tradition/approach which emphasizes consumption, I love the holidays. I love them for what I see as their best and brightest qualities: time to slow down, reflect, celebrate our many gifts, and share love and warmth. We were blessed with a visit from a dear old friend for Thanksgiving and graced by many good friends, old and new, visiting our home for a holiday gathering/housewarming. And of the past 5 years, besides 2007 in our home in Lexington, this is the first year where we really feel Home for the holidays, like we did back in Kalamazoo. So we were content with the plan of a quiet Foust/LaRue family Christmas.

I loved having our live tree (a tea tree), with its twinkling lights, bring that living energy and warm glow into our home. I loved baking six batches of cookies (w/ J) to share and treat ourselves with. And I loved the anticipation of a cozy Christmas day. But there was still that longing to be part of something bigger than just our family. Growing up, Christmas eve was always special and magical feeling. We would dress up (and bundle up for a blustery New Hampshire night) and go to mass at the church where we would see friends and family. There were lots of wreaths and red and white poinsettias and candles glowing bright. We sang together and prayed together. Then we would drive down to my grandparents’ or aunt and uncle’s and the whole, extended family would eat, talk, laugh and be merry. In some ways, I think I enjoyed it even more than Christmas day – the feelings of tradition and connection really made an impression.

Beautifully, magically, as life so often does, when we let it, it brought forth what I was seeking. Awhile back I went to a workshop at a new, and great, local herb/natural health shop (which I’ll be writing more about.) It was a presentation of Dr. Hauschka skin care which is produced using biodynamic methods conceived of by Rudoph Steiner. One of the women who attended spoke of a local spiritual teacher/guide, Karen Rivers, who’s work draws deeply from Steiner’s insights. She mentioned a “beautiful Christmas circle gathering” led by Karen. And in my remembrance of those special times of the past, and wanting to rekindle that flame, I thought of that circle, contacted Karen and she welcomed J and I to participate.

The rain had stopped and the clouds parted to reveal the winter sun, shining down on the pastures of cows and horses, grazing on the lush winter vegetation of Northern California. We parked near a swift creek and made or way slowly along the dirt path to the barn, savoring the idyllic pastureland, so close to the place we now call home! Inside, the barn was lit only by the orange flames of the wood stove. As people took their seats, Karen and helpers lit the candles of the tree and that light was passed from seat to seat for all of us to light a candle to hold. Soon the whole room was full of candlelight and, along with the piano, we began singing. Together we sang many Christmas songs in that room all aglow. It felt so nice to use my voice, to hear J’s voice, and to join together with and enjoy the voices all around. That spirit of sharing and love, self expression and celebration brought tears to my eyes and made me very, very happy on Christmas eve.

Karen wished for us all to make a manger in our hearts, like the manger where the baby Jesus is said to have lain. I see that manger as a symbol of nourishment, safety, warmth, and love and am grateful for that Christmas eve gathering for lighting up my heart’s manger.

The healthy social life is found when in the mirror of each human soul the whole community finds its reflection and when in the community the virtue of each one is living.

-Dr. Rudolph Steiner

Wednesday Eve Meditation – Removing the Layers

Posted on | December 27, 2010

I had the pleasure of hearing Rick Hanson speak at Spirit Rock a few months back. It was an afternoon to honor volunteers and donors and he spoke about gratitude. I found his particular blend of spiritual development and understanding how the mind works interesting. And I also felt an affinity for the positive, calm, and light energy he puts forth. Visiting his website, I discovered he hosts a weekly meditation group in my home town. That was great news as I’ve been looking for a group that is closer, and more intimate, than Spirit Rock Monday nights. I love going out there and will definitely continue experiencing and learning there. But having a group I can participate in that is only a 5-10 minute drive (or a 10-15 minute walk) means less resistance. And the smaller size of Rick’s group is more conducive to getting to know people. The 1:1 sharing we do each week is a particularly nice way to connect with, and be of service to, others, and I know I will be writing more about those exchanges as their value is always tangible.

What I have begun to notice is that I feel better in the days after I attend and I miss its positive effects on the weeks I don’t attend. November and December have been challenging months for me, with some old and deeply embedded insecurities rearing their heads, demanding to be seen and reckoned with. So it was perfect timing for me to find the group. As it happens in life, when we are open and awake to it, what I needed found me!

When I am there, sitting in silence with the group, it is definitely a challenge to relax and Let Go, and especially to calm my mind down. But is is So worth the effort. I remind myself, every time I meditate, that even if I have just a minute or two, here and there, of being fully present, Awake and Aware, that is beautiful and that will have a profoundly positive effect on my life.

Because it is all about this moment. This is where Wisdom and Grace, Love and Potential are.

So, the moments I am able to connect with all of that, as fleeting as they may be, are full of power. That is what matters – the quality of the moment. There’s no need to worry about the quantity.

As with all practices, the more we do it, the more natural it becomes. It can still be challenging, and there may still be resistance to cut through, but once we are really Here again, it begins feeling familiar, like an old friend, a familiar place. And in that comfort we are able to begin taking off the layers of our Being – what we put on to go out into the world and protect ourselves from all that we fear. In Here, in this moment, as our True Self, it is warm and safe and so we don’t need all the layers. Taking them off is a slow and tentative process. The more we remove, the more naked and exposed we feel. But that is why it is so beautiful to do this as our personal practice. Because we know we are safe Here. We know it’s just our infinite self and our connection to the Universal Source of Goodness. When we are really present, we can begin to know our Self and feel that interconnection, and that knowing brings a feeling of safety. So let’s start Here, removing one layer at a time.

If you can imagine it, it is real. You are connected to what already exists.

-Rick Hanson

Creative Pathfinder – Learnings, Weeks 9-12

Posted on | December 13, 2010

Four more weeks of learning about how to be a successful entrepreneur a la The Creative Pathfinder. These lessons hone in on: creating a portfolio/online presence, networking, and knowing your business.

Lesson 9
Topic = Your Portfolio/Body of Work/Online Presence

Insights

  • It’s more fun, effective, and helpful to show what you do instead of just talking about it (this applies to most areas of life and communication actually)
  • Produce a “flagship project that will convince the right people they should make every effort to persuade you to work with them” – great advice, Mark!

If you want to work as a writer, start writing and publishing. If you want to be a film-maker, make films. If you want to be a musician, make music. If you want to be a designer, design something and get it built. If you want to be a marketer, sell something or spread an idea that inspires action.

-Mark McGuinness

Natalie Goldberg says the same thing, over and over, about writing. And all the wise leaders on the life path say the same thing about being enlightened: do the practice, your meditation and the application of wisdom and guidance in daily life, each day, throughout your days – that is enlightenment.

Actions

  • Write a few solid essays to show publications my wordsmithing skills and style (and then start connecting w/ those publications)
  • Ditto for a couple of short stories and ten + poems
  • Outline one of my e-book concepts
  • Collaborate w/ J on a video poem

Lesson 10
Topic = Finding Your Tribe

Insights

  • I agree with Mark that “‘finding your tribe’ sounds a lot more fun to me than ‘networking.’” It reminds us of the primal need to connect and collaborate.
  • What are “my industries”?: Communications, Writing, Blogging, Creating/Healing/Empowering, Consciousness/Meditation

Human beings can’t help it: we need to belong. One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people…

Seth Godin, ‘Tribes’ (via Creative Pathfinder)

  • It’s really important and healthy to think regularly about all of your talents and gifts.

Don’t forget what you can offer the other people you meet. Whatever your level of experience, you have knowledge, skills, experiences and contacts they don’t…Notice how you feel when you help someone in your network, connect two people who can help each other, or introduce someone new to the network (see Suzanna Stinnett’s Cloud Alchemy Manifesto.)

-Mark McGuinness

Actions

  • New business cards (‘cuz I’m almost out and they can be improved upon)
  • Consider using “@dorothylarue.com” email address instead of/in addition to gmail accounts
  • Research industry (see second bullet above) groups/orgs/events to connect with

Lesson 11
Topic = Growing Your Network/Tribe

Insights

  • The web opens up a whole world (literally) of possible connections – for sharing, exchanging, and collaborating.
  • Connecting becomes relevant when you have good, interesting, helpful work to share/exchange/collaborate on.

…if you’re doing something meaningful, original or remarkable, it will be much easier to grow your network…

-Mark McGuinness

  • I so appreciate Mark’s approach to social networking and hope that many people will heed his advice which is basically: think about what you can contribute and how it will add value to people’s lives.

Actions

  • Put some time and energy into Twitter. Can I learn about what interests me there and will it enhance my connecting?
  • Grow my offline network – start having coffee dates w/ local like-minded/hearted people.

Lesson 12
Topic = Uniquely Me

Insights

  • What am I better at than anyone else?
    • Planning/organizing/coordinating/facilitating/managing projects and events
    • Developing and fostering positive and progressive communications
  • What do I enjoy doing the most?
    • Studying/exploring/experimenting with consciousness, cosmology, cultural anthropology, and holistic health
    • Developing and doing practices to expand and evolve, heal and empower, and enlighten
    • Contributing and sharing through my writings, creations, and connections
    • Planning/organizing/coordinating/facilitating/managing projects that are interesting and meaningful
    • Developing and fostering positive and progressive communications
  • The “unique combination of elements” that is my USP (Unique Selling Proposition or as Mark suggests, and I prefer, “Unique and Special Proposition”):
    • I am a talented and creative communicator/coordinator/facilitator/manager who incorporates Universal wisdom and interconnectedness for a Big Picture approach and healthy, positive results (???)
    • This is my first attempt at distilling “the essence of Dorothy” so it will be in development for awhile…
  • Following your heart, your gut, your vision, your Big Dreams is, I believe, the way to really discover your USP. Mark’s successful career path is a shining example of that and one thing to note is:

it’s an ongoing process of development – we are always evolving!

Actions

  • Keep following my heart/gut/vision/Big Dreams and developing my best and brightest potential into great work.

What Do I Want to Grow?

Posted on | November 30, 2010

One of the regular causes of suffering for me is neediness – needing attention, love, respect, and other gestures of affection from the people in my life. Though I understand this to be a cause of suffering, to some degree, for most people, I recognize it as one of my primary life lessons. I look back on my life and see that it has always been there – opportunity disguised as challenge. So much of my life has been spent focusing on what I need and want from others, from the world, and so little time/energy spent on what I am receiving (and what I can offer.) And therein lies the opportunity, a great one for sure: to shift the focus from needing and wanting to receiving gratefully and giving generously.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself feeling a bit “out of sorts” and was able to identify the primary cause of my unhappiness. Needing and wanting were occupying a big part of my mind, and heart, and really getting in the way of healthy, productive thinking/feeling/being/doing. I was able to clearly observe what was happening. It’s fairly new for me to understand, on a personal level, that we’ll never be truly happy when we’re focused on need and want. So, I celebrate that progress!

Once we are aware of the causes of our unhappiness/suffering, we can choose more positive approaches. Experimenting with the approaches we’ve learned about through our studies (external and internal), we begin to recognize what works best for us, which ways of thinking/feeling/being/doing bring happiness and health. From there it’s all about practice – practice, practice, practice.

“Just do the practice and all is coming.”

A favorite piece of guidance I received reading ‘Fully Fertile: A 12-Week Holistic Plan for Optimal Fertility’. It’s become a mantra I repeat regularly. Such simple wisdom – the best kind! By consciously shifting our thoughts/feelings/actions towards that which is positive and productive, we are doing the practice.

So a couple of weeks ago when I identified the main source of my unhappiness as needing and wanting, I remembered the lesson about how we get more of what we focus our energy and attention on – the Law of Attraction. It’s kind of like how when we give a plant water and nutrients, it grows and blooms. So the question we should ask ourselves, continuously, is,

“What do I want to grow?”

Whatever it is, feed that. That’s mindful focusing of our energy and attention. That’s conscious choice.

There’s no benefit to needing and wanting so that’s not something I want to feed. I made a conscious choice to shift my thinking/feeling towards the gifts I am given each moment. I thought about the people in my life, near and far, and all that they have shared and are sharing with me. I opened my heart to those offerings and the needing and wanting began to fade away. And into that open space came new gifts. I was receiving more of what I was focused on – the Law of Attraction at work!

The practice of Gratitude is very powerful. As we feed the gratitude tree, it grows healthy and strong. We see it’s fruit, flowers, shade and shelter more clearly and easily and, through our focused energy and attention, all of its best qualities multiply.

The abundance of life is there for us, all of us. It is there in the seeds which the winds of change blow and scatter on the soil of our life. When we tend to our soil, feeding and nurturing through our positive practices, those seeds take root and sprout, bloom and fruit.

Poems By Request – Friends

Posted on | November 11, 2010

Another ‘Spontaneous Writing Booth’ poem:

Friends
When we are young
we come together so easily.
Of course, we are all growing
into our own bodies,
learning about life
from the Big Wide World
around us.
We share freely,
we speak more honestly.
Our hearts are more open.
And we are all thrown together in school –
a big pot of tiny humans, learning and growing.
We play together.
We grow up together.
We change and move apart.
We move on –
colleges, adventures, exploring, and meeting new people –
we are “young adults”, still not recognizing
the treasure of friendship.
Over the years, as our bodies reach full size
and we come into a life full of responsibility
and hard choices,
challenges and hard truths,
it slowly begins to dawn on us,
the power of those friendships.
The ones we have been lucky, and wise, enough
to hold onto
are especially dear – there is so much history.
We can connect like the innocent youths we were
back then.
We know each others back stories –
there is context.
At the same time,
we are learning a new process,
of coming together as adults.
How and where do we find “our people”,
the people we just feel natural, relaxed, comfortable,
and really Our Self with?
The people who, as my friend, Katie (she is one of those people) says,
“can show up at your house any time, day or night,
to visit, to share, it doesn’t matter what the house looks like,
doesn’t matter what you look like.”
They are always welcome,
and you are always accepted.
Those new friends are out there.
Do what you love, be who you are,
and you will find them.

Cloud Alchemy

Posted on | November 8, 2010

Suzanna Stinnett’s ‘Cloud Alchemy: Manifesto for the Conscious Web Citizen’ came to me synchronistically the other day. Suzanna founded and runs Bay Area Bloggers Society (BABS) which I learned about through Meetup, a resource suggested in The Creative Pathfinder course (see my two previous posts on the course) for connecting with local people with similar interests. I visited her website to see what she’s up to and that brought me to her ‘Tribute to 9 Notable Innovators’. Guess who’s in the mix?: Mark McGuinness, the man behind The Creative Pathfinder. A circular synchronicity!

The Cloud Alchemy manifesto is a really powerful statement of intention for our rapidly evolving collective consciousness. And who should be mentioned in the second sentence but Peter Russell, who’s approach to being I had the privilege of experiencing at the Science and Nonduality conference a couple of weeks ago, and has continued to synchronize my life . If it wasn’t clear to me already, at this point I understood I should be Paying Attention!

A few of the many worthy points of the manifesto, resonated through my lens:

  • We are all here to share and connect – the web is one, far reaching, pathway.

Recognize that you are an agent.

-Suzanna Stinnett

  • We are all completely unique creatures, never to be repeated again. If we do not recognize our greatest potential and share our unique gifts, the world is missing out, and so are we. Make communication a priority.

There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And, if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

Martha Graham (from Daniel Brown’s course description in Esalen’s catalog)

  • Spread the good news – there’s plenty of it each day. So, start by noticing the good stuff going on in your world, being grateful for it, and celebrating it. Then let that practice grow to encompass life beyond your sphere, and share what you are observing, experiencing, and hearing about. We create more of what we focus our energy on, so let’s build the positive momentum.
  • No matter how global our communications, local communities are nourishing in a way that only in-person sharing can. For most of us, still predominantly living at the physical level, the flow of energy is more powerful with the people/creatures/elements within sensory range.
  • We have much more than words in our communication toolbox. Put your body, heart, and energy into it – draw/paint/make, capture moments in photos, tell stories through videos/audio pieces/live presentations, do good for others and the world around you, etc. These are all forms of communication and using a diverse array of channels and mediums keeps us holistically engaged.
  • See beyond yourself, feel your interconnection with all life, and let that guide your thoughts, words, and actions. By being fully present and really hearing, really seeing, we begin to recognize the wisdom and value of what others (including the younger generations, elders, and those from all walks of life) are expressing. A great way for us to be of service is to honor and raise awareness of their work.

Think collaboratively and use a reciprocal approach. Then ask yourself: What is the best way I can help the most people, right now? The answer to this question is your north star. Progress steadily towards it.

-Suzanna Stinnett

Suzanna’s work inspires me to do good work, and the words of another visionary activist come to mind:

Cooperation is a stronger evolutionary force than competition.

-Rob Brezsny

Creative Pathfinder – Learnings, Weeks 5 – 8

Posted on | November 2, 2010

Four more weeks of The Creative Pathfinder Course full of valuable lessons on nurturing our creative talents and successfully bringing them forth into the world. See this post for context and week 1-4 lessons.

Note: As my study and practice of meditation and consciousness continues (see my last post, or previous posts on meditation), I see more and more overlap between the wisdom of those life elements and healthy, successful creative work.

Lesson 5
Topic = Information Processing

Insights

  • Through our senses and our consciousness, and subconscious, we are sponges, continuously taking in information (etymology: knowledge communicated.) And in order to utilize all that info, we must process it. Learning, and practicing effective processing methods has a profound effect on our creative output.

This is how I’m seeing the flow of energy:

Experience->Process->Produce->Share

  • Reframing: This is such a key, not just for opening up creative possibilities, but also a critical skill for enjoying life. A truly important lesson: how we interpret and what we do with our experiences is always Our Choice. This is a gift – Use It!!! And, as with any other skill, the more we practice it, the better we get and the more natural it becomes.

The more you do this, the more you will realise how much human beings make themselves happy, sad, anxious, or plain miserable over their interpretation of events, rather than the events themselves.

-Mark McGuinness

And, as one of my favorite wisdom teachers says:

Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.

-Wayne Dyer

  • Mind Mapping: This is fun stuff. It’s great to get away from just black and white, left to right, and heavy reliance on words. Letting ideas flow freely and arranging them organically and colorfully is liberating and definitely helps us see things in new ways.

As you draw the mind map, you will start to see relationships and patterns emerge as if by themselves, which will help you order the material later on.

-Mark McGuinness

  • Insight: means “sight with the eyes of the mind”; internal sight; inner knowing. I like the recognition that we can cultivate this gift through our actions. It’s not about just waiting to be struck with knowing, as with all growth it comes through continued effort.

This is how I’m seeing the Insight Flow

Learn->Practice->Pause->Insight!->Use It:

As I was writing about this lesson, this guidance (from an Insightful teacher! – see my last post on the SAND conference) synchronistically came to me:

Often our best ideas come, not when we are struggling to solve the problem, but when we are doing something completely different. When the mind is free and relaxed. So if you are struggling with something right now, take five minutes off. Give yourself a break. Do something completely different.

-Peter Russell

  • Creative Flow: Again, being present and mindful, we begin to discover what choices and actions make our creative energy flow and what tangles it up. And also, knowing our true passions, our Big Dreams, and dedicating a majority of our time and energy to those pursuits, naturally feeds the flow. When we are in that flowing river, we are part of the cosmic rhythm, without separation, moving beyond space and time.

Actions

  • The suggestion to observe those around us as they frame reality is a great one. Because, it is frequently easier to learn by observing externally. That practice, along with our personal practice of consciousness development, helps us see the self-limiting frames we all use, and to reframe. So, I will be paying closer attention to others and my self. As I observe negative/unproductive/self-limiting frames, I will run through the list of positive/productive/expansive options and shifting frames. And, in the creative realm, I’ll be giving more thought to the lenses (frames) that inspirational artists are using, and looking at my work (the tools/techniques/mediums/subjects/etc) through a variety of new lenses.
  • I am in the midst of my first mind map, and a broadly encompassing one at that. Having fun with it and will write about when done. I plan to utilize this technique for other life and creative reviews/planning sessions.
  • As I am more regularly in the moment (through meditation and consciousness development), I am more able to fully apply myself to the work, sense when it is time to take a break and shift focus, open to the insights that arise, and committed to using them constructively.
  • I am consciously giving more of my time and energy to my passions and minimizing distractions to the flow.

Lesson 6
Topic = Free Flowing Creative Energy

Insights

  • Everyone experiences creative blocks, they do pass, and there are tricks to help them pass more quickly? That’s comforting!
  • There are many, many reasons we resist doing good work. If we are really in the moment, we can recognize our inner dialogue and reframe it!
  • Self discipline is critical, too. I like the suggestion to commit to staying present, with your materials, and bringing your focus back to the work.

Remembering why you are doing it and why it is worth the effort are great motivators as is envisioning the future we are creating.

  • Sharing the experience of blocked creativity with trusted friends/family/colleagues/teachers often brings support and understanding which can actually loosen the block.
  • The suggestion of making a list of past successes and continuously adding to it is great! We don’t tend to take much time to reflect on all that we have accomplished in life.
  • Sometimes we just need to take a break, to shift focus. The more we know our true self, the more we’ll know when that’s what’s called for. And, just like developing an understanding of what keeps your creative energy flowing, we need to learn the best ways (for us) to rest and rejuvenate.

Just as others can inspire us to good work, we can inspire ourselves.

Actions

  • I need to get going on that List of Past Successes.
  • Read more of Mark’s ‘creative blocks’ series when I’m experiencing my own block, and learn from how others move through them.

Lesson 7
Topic = Maximum Creativity and Productivity

Insights

  • What is my top priority, in terms of productivity? To “carve out more time for creative work.” What are the benefits of doing that? More will be created/produced. I will feel a regular sense of accomplishment. It will build my confidence. I can move on to new projects/elements. My skills will grow. I will be happier.
  • What is my weakest link right now? Routines. I have a good daily schedule, I just need to be more committed to, and disciplined in, following it.
  • I’m doing quite well with the systems I have in place to capture ideas and commitments – yay for that!

Actions

  • Read ‘Time Management for Creative People’
  • Beyond following the general daily schedule, beginning each day by creating a short list of action items will help me focus in on my top priorities, and have a sense of accomplishment as they are crossed off. I do this but don’t start fresh every day – that’s going to feel really good, I think.
  • Get out and meet new people.  Dialoguing/sharing with people and experiencing their productions is inspiring, and inspiration feeds creativity and productivity.

Lesson 8
Topic = Career Goals/Life Vision

Insights

  • I have always seen myself, Big Picture, Big Dream, as a creative entrepreneur. I have plenty of ideas and inspirations, the challenge has been deeply assessing them, prioritizing, making a do-able action plan, and Doing The Work, staying focused, confident, and committed. The good news is that I am currently meeting all of those challenges, with consciousness, openness, and as much grace as I can summon. I am a “creative entrepreneur in training.”
  • Doing work for other people, as an employee or consultant, can be in harmony with working on my personal creative projects. I have successfully balanced the two and this is actually the healthiest approach for me now. The stability and structure, challenges and collaboration of outside work can be both supportive and inspiring to my personal work.

Actions

  • The trick is doing great work that is interesting and really brings forth your true talents and gifts. I am learning that trick!

My favorite takeaway from this series:
Happiness + Contribution = Success
-Ask yourself ‘What work do I love doing the most?’ and ‘Where do I contribute the most value?’
-Focus your efforts on the overlap between the two.

Thanks again, Mark!

Science And Nonduality Conference – Impressions

Posted on | October 27, 2010

Jeph and I attended and volunteered our energies to the Science and Nonduality Conference this past weekend. I am glad to have experienced it and grateful for the insights and food for thought/contemplation.

What resonated, through my lens:

All of us – people, creatures, elements, the whole earth, sun/moon/stars/planets – are connected. We Are All One.

Our physical bodies and primary communication mode, language, present both challenges and opportunities. We can get caught in labeling and separating ourselves from the world. And we can get caught in identifying only with what we experience in the physical realm, through our senses. But the opportunity exists, in every moment, to move beyond the physical and connect and communicate with what we’ve been led to believe is separate from “I”.

We recognize the opportunity when we are present in the moment. And in order to be fully present we must experience the moment, our be-ing, through all of our physical senses.

It’s all there for us. Really, really, look, listen, watch.

-Adyashanti

…and feel… Then we are grounded in the body – connected to the ground, the earth which graciously supports these bodies of ours (this would be a good time to pause and experience and express our deep gratitude for mother earth’s daily support of our life.)

It is not a mistake that we are here, now, in these bodies. That was a choice, too. “Moving beyond the physical” does not mean leaving the body behind, until it is time for that. Through embracing our earthly nature and loving and nourishing our body we will begin to sense the energy flowing within and through us. That energy is our connection to Universal Energy, our source. Again, We Are All One.

The more we choose to be fully present, in this moment, the more we will come to know our true, deepest self. The more we are here and now, the more we will recognize the interconnection of all life. And as we open up to that, the wisdom of the collective consciousness (and subconscious) will guide our life, our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.

How do I help others? How do I help this world?

Answer: (silence and presence) and, because we are having a physical experience and are taught to communicate with words, “By just Being – being fully present, being here now, being comfortable in a healthy body, being aware of our interconnection, being accepting of what is – our influence and contributions will be positive.”

Peter Russell and Peter Fenner in dialogue, paraphrased

And as we return to the moment (and remember to Breathe – that’s one way to really love and nourish our bodies) and connect with Universal energy, we begin to see the infinite nature of Being. Because there is no beginning or end, there is a circle – the circle of life. Which means that time is not linear, though our human perception has led us to believe it to be. So, if this moment encompasses all moments, by being fully here and now, we can access there and then, too. It’s funny, because somewhere in the process of “growing up” we all get in the habit of thinking about the future and the past quite a lot, and guess what that does? It takes us away from the present. It’s a bit of a conundrum because, on the one hand, we can’t be fully here if we are there and, on the other hand, when we are fully here, we can be, and actually are, there too. Hmmm…The thing to remember is Start Here.

Non-local = infinite in space and time. Consciousness exists non-locally.

-Larry Dossey

When we are present, our consciousness naturally begins expanding. Infinite universal wisdom and our subconscious dwell beyond space and time and a regular meditation practice helps us quiet the mind and recognize their many forms and channels. When we are receptive to that guidance and observe the positive effects on our life (and rippling out far beyond “I”), we begin to trust gut feelings, intuition, synchronicities, and premonitions.

Premonitions are preventive medicine.

-Larry Dossey

In the world of dreams (entered through sleep and also through shamanic and other guided journeys), we leave consciousness at the gate. Here the subconscious and collective subconscious are leading our journey. The more we open up to them in waking life (through being fully conscious in the present and through meditation), the deeper our connection in the dream world, and the richer our memories upon awakening again.

The best ways to get in tune with, and strengthen your powers of premonition: keep a dream journal (and pay attention to it!) and meditate.

-Larry Dossey (parenthesized addition by me)

And as we think and speak and act with consciousness of the interconnection, the Web of Life, our thoughts, words, and actions will benefit our life and all life.

What we do is not nearly as important as why we do it.

-Loibon Le Baaba

So let us Wake Up when we are in waking life.

Be Present.

Slow Down – let the busy mind and heart come into focus.

Breathe in life.

Release all that is not helpful, productive, needed.

Let Go of the past (it’s still there/here – we needn’t cling.)

Watch the future as it unfolds in the present.

Recognize Infinity, and the circle of time

in each Moment.

Open to the innate Wisdom

and move through life

in harmony

in synchronicity.

See, really see,

and feel, really feel

your Self in every eye you look into,

every hand you hold,

every shoulder you touch,

creature you watch,

element you take in.

It is You.

The poetic moment is about breaking out of oneself.

-Drew Dellinger

Poems By Request – Fertile

Posted on | October 5, 2010

Fertile

This is the start of a series of poems inspired by Natalie Goldberg. In her wonderful (I am literally full of wonder as I read it) book ‘Writing Down the Bones’ (which I will be writing more about) is a chapter called ‘Spontaneous Writing Booths.’ She talks about wanting to contribute to her Zen Center’s summer festival so she set up a table and offered poems on request – you pick the topic, I write. Her rules: fill a single side of standard sized paper, no specific poetic format, no editing, no reading, just hand it over and move on to the next one.  As she says:

With the writing booth there is the opportunity to be a great warrior: you must let go of everything as you write and then in handing it over to the customer.  Whey you work that fast, there is a real loss of control.

Wow, I thought, this is a perfect way to get me out of the rut of writing about the same old familiar, safe things (my life) in the same old ways (self limiting and censored.) ‘Cuz losing control can be a good, even great, thing.

I imagine being given a word/phrase/concept by someone and off I go. It’s great fun, very free-ing. Part of the motivation is to get comfortable and loose enough with this that I can have a Spontaneous Writing Booth some day at a local community festival/event/gathering!  Then my warrior will become stronger as I let the words, a little part of myself, go forever.

Thank-you, Natalie.

Most of the time I’ll not look back, but once in awhile, when I feel it, I’ll share. Here’s one:

Fertile
The earth is fertile ground. In it are the rocks, sand, clay, bones, trash, fossils, organisms, other bugs, creatures, like hedgehogs, that live in there.
There are caves and caverns, there are ridges and holes where water runs, flows, or has dried up.
It is where we plant seeds and grow the fruits and vegetables that nourish us. Where flowers root and bloom.
Where little acorns and tree seeds get deposited by birds and plant themselves.
And in that fertile soil they take root and send up shoots. And over the years they grow big and tall.
We are fertile.
Our bodies, as women, are a place where the seed of humanity is planted, takes root, is nurtured for nine months, and then new life is born.
Our minds are fertile ground. The Big Wide Amazing Incredible Scary Hard Fantastic Beautiful Abundant Lacking Sad Juicy Ripe Awful Terror-ful Tremendous Vivid Bleak Tangible Untouchable Forgiving Tender World is planted in our mind, impressed on our Fertile Consciousness.
We experience it all and the soil of our mind is where some of it gets planted. It is up to us, consciously or unconsciously, to choose what gets planted and what just blows off in the wind.
Let’s pick the good stuff.
We can experience it all and let the stuff that doesn’t really help or matter go.
Just let it go.
That leaves plenty of room in the field, the fertile field of our consciousness, for us to plant healthy seeds that grow into strong, and flexible, trees and flowers. We can smell the flowers and admire their colors.
We can climb those trees, planted in our fertile soil, and see for miles and miles, the infinite horizon of life.

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