style · writing

Writers Wednesday – Welcome to the Creator’s Chamber

Happy Writers Wednesday! As promised last week, I’m here to show you all some of the touches I incorporated into my office to turn it into my creative chamber of sorts.

I finally cleared out some boxed items, putting them into their proper places. I began sorting out my desk and improved the lighting situation (there is no overhead lighting in this room, so I have to incorporate floor and desk lamps). There are some more minor aesthetic changes I want to make, but for now, I’m satisfied. I finally have a space I can work and create in.

I decided to add some inspiring decorative touches, like these pretty inscribed rocks I purchased for my garden (that I didn’t work on as much as I wanted last year . . . ). I put them on a few of my bookshelves fora little color and whimsy.

I also put some of my lovely thrifted pieces on a few of my bookshelves.

There’s more to do, but I’m pacing myself because I don’t want to get overwhelmed during the process of getting everything “in order”. Nothing sabotages progress like overwhelm, which is why taking my time has been crucial to arranging my creative chamber.

That’s it for now! I’ll add more photos as I finish decorating in the weeks to come. Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

business · writing

Writers Wednesdays – 5 Exercises to Beat Writer’s Block

Happy Writers Wednesdays! I took off four days from my bookwriting practice because I’ve been entertaining visiting relatives (yay for finally returning to a semi-normal life!). On top of that, I had a few other things to work on in my ever-fleeting downtime (such as writing on this blog and putting more time into my tutoring business).

However, when I resume my writing practice, I want to ensure that I am able to hit the ground running. So I took a little time to think of some additional ways to beat writer’s block. I’ve discussed some strategies before that I find to be effective, but I’ve never done a consolidated post – until now. If nothing else, I hope these tips can help those authors-in-the-making who want to bust through those uninspired moments so that they can finish writing the book of their dreams. Here are my five favorite techniques for beating writer’s block.

  1. Try haiku or a limerick. I have found it really helpful to switch up my writing whenever I’m feeling stuck. Since I usually write fiction or how-to manuals, I try a few short poetry styles (like haiku or limericks) to get the creative juices flowing. Something about breaking up my routine really works well for helping me to get over creative challenges. I chose haiku and limericks because they are are so drastically different from the type of writing I enjoy most and they engage a different part of my brain. Of course, you can use any type of writing that differs from what you usually do. The key to this is to keep the exercise brief so that you aren’t overwhelmed by the process.
  2. Do 7 days of stream of consciousness writing. Anyone can do this, but it is especially good for anyone that is working on an autobiography or some work that involves self-reflection. As soon as you wake up, you write for 10-15 minutes about whatever comes to mind. You don’t reread or judge what you’ve written until you’ve finished doing it for 7 consecutive days. After that time, you can look over what you’ve written and figure out if there are any patterns or latent messages that are being revealed. If nothing else, you may find that your mind is under- or over-stimulated, and you can adjust your routine accordingly.
  3. Go somewhere or do something you’ve never done before. Speaking of under- and over-stimulation . . . Sometimes, the blockage comes from boredom. We know that boredom is a problem that everyone experiences at some point in time. But, we are so conditioned to view time on the internet as “doing something” that we feel guilty about claiming to be bored. It’s very possible to scroll endlessly on social media, news websites, personal blogs, or video platforms, yet still feel bored. So break up the monotony and try something new: do something you’ve always wanted to do, and see how that improves your creative blocks. Alternatively, the block may be happening because you’re overwhelmed. In that case, disconnecting from your daily activities and severely reducing your “to-do” list may be just what you need to get inspired again. Try a no- or low-stimuli routine for a defined period of time, and see how that improves your creativity.
  4. Have someone to tell you a story. This works particularly well for me, because it passively engages my storytelling “brain”. As I listen to the story, I try to anticipate what will come next, and I’m always delighted when the story takes an unexpected turn. There are some times where an author needs to transition from the role of storyteller to the role of captive audience member. Listening to someone else tell you a story gives your brain a pleasant rest from trying to figure out what’s next with your own writing projects.
  5. Do a scent (or flavor, or sound) summary. This is a really good practice for writers that struggle with creating sufficiently descriptive passages. Instead of focusing on your latest work-in-progress, try flexing your adjective and adverb muscles, and attempt to accurately describe your favorite food dishes flavors, your favorite musical genre (focusing on the instruments used and how the sounds make you feel), or your favorite cologne or perfume. Go beyond that, and perhaps try your hand at describing the smells, flavors, or sounds that make you feel excited, sad, angry, or fearful. This exercise takes you outside of your normal writing practice, but it still engages the creative part of your mind.

Those are my five favorite hacks for busting through writer’s block. What are some things you’ve done to help with those creative blockages? I’d love to hear aobut them in the comments below!

culture · international · life curation

Embracing The Year of the Ox

We recently saw the beginning of a brand new Lunar Year on February 12th. Somehow, I was a bit late this year, and I didn’t realize that the Lunar New Year occurred until two days after.

What can I say? It’s been a challenging year for all of us, and if I miss a couple of holidays, it’s only because this year has done a number on most of us.

Anyway, back to the Lunar New Year. I thought of the significance of this year’s animal, the ox. I reflected back on the last lunar year, the year of the rat. I think of mice and rats, and how these animals, while indicative of abundance (they are always in places with adequate food supply), can overconsume and leave desolation where abundance used to reside. I think the year of the rat, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, was a collective wake-up call. We are abundant, but, as a society, we have taken too much from nature, and balance must be restored.

Enter the year of the ox. This hardworking beast of burden only consumes what it needs to sustain itself, and it’s purpose for existing is to produce through manual efforts. Unlike rats, whose body waste is toxic and often spreads disease, oxen are useful all the way down to their fecal matter, which can fertilize and restore balance to the soil. The ox is sturdy, reliable, and work-oriented. It is the animal that’s most representative of the attitude we need in these times.

I think this year will be a year of restoration and balance. Life will get back to normal, more or less, but what is considered baseline normal has changed. We’ve had roughly one year to stay close to home, spend more time doing domestic activities, and to closely examine what matters to us. Now, we have our work to do.

It’s time for us to produce. We’ve been incubating our skills and talents during lockdowns and quarantines: now is the time to put out into the world what we’ve been creating during our downtime. And yes, I understand that many of us were too stressed and otherwise limited to “create” in the traditional sense. But, our creations need not be tangible: they can be our musings, creative nudges or even inklings of necessary change in our personal lives or in society. We have all created “something” in the past year: now it’s time to unleash it.

May the year of the ox give you great favor and lead you closer to a wonderful existence.

That’s all for today. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

life curation

Are You Ambitious?

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had a safe and fun weekend.

Today’s post is courtesy of a fantastic free workbook that I downloaded from the Tory Burch Foundation website. As a newbie female entrepreneur, I’m constantly on the lookout for information that can help me to successfully grow my businesses. I’m fascinated by how many individual “parts” need to sync in order to create business success. So I read a lot of guides and do any of the associated exercises to ensure that I’m testing the theories and learning – for myself – what works and what doesn’t.

The Tory Burch Foundation’s Ambition Guidebook is a wonderful resource for anyone beginning on the entrepreneur path. The exercises in the booklet lead you through self-discovery, and if you do the exercises, you’ll eventually reveal to yourself the strengths that you possess, potential roadblocks on your path, and actionable steps that you can take to achieve your goals.

That leads me to the title of this post: are you ambitious? Many of us have been taught to shy away from this personality trait, out of fear of offending others. Women, particularly, may have gotten the messaging that ambition is a “masculine” trait and thus undesirable in any authentically “feminine” woman. For those that are still a bit nervous about the word “ambitious”, you can easily substitute the words “passionate” or even “enthusiastic”. When substituting different words, it’s clear that ambition is a good thing: one could even say that ambition is the spice of life!

Yes, so many of the things that we enjoy are the products of extreme ambition. Strong desire is what inspires us to create new things, even in a world where it seems like “everything” has already been created! One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen what someone that no longer had any ambition: a lack of desire leaves a person feeling lost and disinterested in life. Most of us have had brief periods when we don’t feel very ambitious, but that’s not an energy that we want to linger in. We want to always find something to “light us up” and inspire us to do/have/be MORE.

So, I’m going through the exercises in the guidebook and enjoying it so far. I love how user-friendly this is, and the fact that it’s free is definitely a good thing! If you have a few friends that are interested in finding their life’s purposes or rekindling their passions, this booklet would be great for you all to download and complete together as a group. If you decide to download it, let me know how you enjoy it!

life curation · Uncategorized

How to Support Small Businesses During the Pandemic

One of the things that continues to come to my mind is the well-being of small business owners, especially those that are not able to do business in person (“nonessential” businesses). As individuals, we may not be able to save every small business, but we can definitely do something to help support these businesses.

Untitled design (1)

Buying local and buying from small businesses can make a big impact

Seek out Etsy sellers – Etsy is full of creatives that make and sell all sorts of amazing stuff.If you’re looking for something specific, try Etsy first. You may be able to quickly locate the perfect item, and (as a plus!) you’ll be able to support a small business owner.

Use local food delivery – If you’re tired of cooking, or maybe you just want to get your grocery items delivered to your front door, then local food delivery services are just what you need. Seek out small (non-chain) restaurants for your meals, and if you use a grocery delivery service, then make sure to tip your delivery person. That money can make a huge difference to the “gig economy” workers that may be working in these services to help cover expenses during this crisis.

Use Amazon to help you – Amazon has set up a portal specifically for handmade items from every state in the US. If you want to ensure that the money you spend goes directly to sellers living near you, you can click on your region and then select your state to find vendors. I recently purchased these darling Cinderella earrings for a special little one in my life. They’re so cute, I may end up buying the Belle earrings for myself!


Charming Cinderella earrings

Ask family and friends to give you referrals – Of course, if you’re at a loss for businesses to support, ask your family and friends to make suggestions. Some of them may themselves be business owners that you can support directly, or they may know some business owners that would appreciate having a new customer.

Do you have any ideas for supporting small and local businesses that I didn’t mention? Let me know all about it in the comments below!

 

 

 

(this post contains affiliate links)

art · reading list

What I’m Reading Right Now

I’ve been reading a LOT recently. This has been a great time for me to get through my tremendous book list (which I’ve been mindful to NOT add to during this time). I’ve read several Agatha Christie novels that I’ve had for a long time, but now I want to get back to my first love: self-improvement/life-enhancement books.

Untitled design (12)

I started reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron as a way to tap into my creativity and to consistently feel inspired. I began reading it in 2018, but I never got past the first few pages (I don’t think it was the right time to embark upon this journey: this was when I was trying to figure out the status of my health and my creativity wasn’t a priority). But now that I have a better handle on my physical health, now seemed like a good time to pick this book up again. I am seeking to access my creativity on new levels, and after reading the introduction and reviews of The Artist’s Way, I was convinced that this would be the perfect book to kick-start my creative endeavors.

The Artist’s Way takes would-be creatives through 12 weeks of exercises and guidance to set up a “framework” that encourages the pursuit of artistic endeavors. I’m in week 1 right now, and I’m excited to see where I’ll be at the end of the process.

Have any of you read The Artist’s Way? I’d love to hear about your experience with the book!

(this post has affiliate links)

art

Find a New Artist to Love!

Happy Friday, friends! We made it through another week. And for those that are reading this that in the areas where the polar vortex touched  down, congratulations on surviving the extreme cold!

Today is February 1st and I am so excited to share what’s happening on my Instagram. Every day this month, I’ll be highlighting a new artist for you all to check out. My goal is to bring more exposure to some of the creatives that I personally enjoy.

_Even if love is full of thorns, I'd still embrace it for I know that in between those thorns, there is a rose that's worth all the pain._

Because it’s a short month, I want to give myself a personal challenge as well as a social media challenge. I hope you all enjoy the artist that I introduced to you and please give them your support either by purchasing their work if you love it or sharing them with in your networks so that they can get some exposure and perhaps a few new customers.

My first artist to be featured this month: @emboldenedexpressions

The post is going to be super short today, because I have started my latest 21 day challenge and I need to direct as much energy to that as possible. Again, remember to check out the artist that I’ll be sharing with you all month, and I will talk to you all on Monday. Enjoy your weekend!

life curation

NaNoWriMo Week 2 – Updates

Happy Thursday, friends! I’ve completed my first two weeks of NaNoWriMo and I’m excited that I’ve been writing (basically) every day since the challenge started.

I’m at 15,000 words now, which means I have only 15 days to write another 35,000 words (whew, I’m tired just thinking about it!) But I’m committed to seeing this challenge through. I’ve got a few more days off during the next two weeks and I’ll focus on doing large chunks of writing during those days. My story is moving along nicely, though I’m not taking much time to reread – and not time to revise – as I write.

writing

I’ve found it helpful to write without doing any editing. You end up losing a lot of time because your brain “shifts gears” and you lose your momentum if you try to write and edit simultaneously. Unfortunately, the finished product ends up being quite “rough”, but it is a rough draft, after all. If it doesn’t come out as clean as you’d like, you can always edit, edit, edit it until it’s perfect. That’s what I always end up doing, and that’s what will happen with this book, as well.

So I’ll be putting my head down and focusing on getting all of my writing done over the next several days. Can I reach 50,000 words by November 30th? I think so. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

art · life curation

Why Technology Will Be a Game Changer for the Art World

Hey everyone! As you all know, I try to keep my “finger” on the “pulse” of the art world, because it’s an arena that I find tremendously fascinating. You all also know (after reading my most recent goals post) that I intend to eventually transition into an art career. However, one main reason why I’m hesitant to fully leap into the art world is because I want to make sure that I have a lucrative position within the art world, not just a creative one. I figured that the intersection between art and technology would be a good place for me to start.

tech

It’s funny – I started the draft for this post several weeks ago, but, as with most of my writing, I find that there are other people who are on the same wavelength. As it turns out, Sotheby’s Institute of Art will be incorporate lectures around art and technology into its Masters Degree program.

In my opinion, we’re going to see a surge of technological advances used in unexpected ways. These advances will be critical to preserving cultural institutions and traditions, the liberal arts, and, of course, fine art. At the most obvious level, creativity will be needed to create technology that is both effective and desired. On a deeper level, the technology will be used in unprecedented ways, to preserve cultural heritage and create a new heritage of its own.

I’m revising my goals list to incorporate what I suspect will be the leading edge of the art world. I’ll continue to clarify my vision for my future art career, and I’ll share that vision in my next goals update post.

Thanks for reading my musings, friends! I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

reading list

Book Review: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

writing

When I mentioned The War of Art by Steven Pressfield in my May Reading List post, I shared that I had read it before, but I rushed through it. I read it as part of a business “boot camp” that I participated in a few years ago. The book was good but since the business I was designing wasn’t “creative”, it didn’t feel relevant to my circumstances at the time.

However, I’m in a different space in my life now, and I am tapping into my creative powers regularly. That’s why I post daily in this space, whether I have lots to talk about or not much going on. It’s all about continuing to write and dedicating myself to my craft. Errors and all, I post here every day with the hope that I’ll share something that inspires or educates.

Back to War of Art: this book is all about learning what “Resistance” is, how it impacts our creative projects, and how to break through it. For those that don’t know, Resistance is anything that distracts us from our creative projects or interferes with our creative expression. Resistance takes many forms, but each of them are detrimental to the creative, who is denied their natural expression when they allow Resistance to win.

Resistance is described as an enemy that has mastered the art of disguise: so much so, it’s possible that this enemy is attacking you from several angles. However, once identified, the enemy can be defeated and the creative can realize his/her ultimate goal. Pressfield assures us that Resistance can be beaten, as he stated, “Defeating Resistance is like giving birth. It seems absolutely impossible until you remember that women have been pulling it off successfully, with support and without, for fifty million years”.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section outlines the many disguises of Resistance: it can be something as blatant as procrastination or as subtle as vicarious living through loved ones. The second section describes the way to conquer Resistance which is going “pro”: utilizing strategies of the “professional” to sets out to do his/her work regardless of all of the Resistance swirling in the atmosphere. The third section is all about what happens after Resistance is conquered. This section speaks of the magic of starting a project, the incredible outcomes of deferring to “higher powers” like God, the Muses, etc., and moving beyond the Ego.

This entire book is enjoyable, but I’m especially a fan of the second section. Many of the practices outlined are disciplines that could serve you in multiple arenas. I often need to be reminded of what a “professional” does, so that, instead of being frustrated by circumstance, I’m focused instead on what I need to do.

This was such a good read! I hope you all check it out and find some benefit in it for yourselves!