Year in Review – Prompt #2 Peaks and troughs

Sometimes we are encouraged to dive into a vision for the new year without processing the year that has been. Have you ever experienced that?
As an art therapist and coach I know that feeling, accepting and integrating our feelings, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is an important part of good health, and an important part of feeling authentically energised for the future.
Through the last two months of 2018 each week I’ll be sharing some end of year reflection and journaling prompts I have developed to help you integrate the experiences of this year and finish up feeling clearer and more accepting of yourself and the year that was.
Here is the second Year in Review prompt….
—–
Peaks and troughs
Take an hour and some pen and paper (or laptop and coffee) and consider the following prompts:
– What were the highlights of this year in terms of events or peak experiences? The things that felt most fun, energising, connecting, satisfying etc. Take 10 minutes and and make this a list or write a few sentences about each if you like.
– What were the hardest moments of this year in terms of events or experiences? The things that felt sad, disappointing, frustrating etc. Take 10 minutes and and make this a list or write a few sentences about each if you like.
Try to give each of these lists the same amount of time, use a timer if you like.
Take a few deep breaths and sit with any feelings that arise, knowing that whatever you have experienced you have made it through to the here and now, showing strength, flexibility and perseverance. Reread the highlights list before you move on to the next part.
Now take 10 minutes for each of these questions:
1. Looking at these two lists, what do they tell you about what you care about; that is what you hold dear, what is important to you, what you value?
2. Looking at these two lists, what do they tell you about your strengths and resources as a person? What personal qualities, support networks and resources helped you navigate all these experiences?
2. Based on that information, what are some things you would like to include in your life next year? What strengths and resources will you draw on to make that happen?
—–
That’s it!
Enjoy.
And remember to be kind to yourself as you reflect and write – accept and be kind to yourself about whatever you experienced, whatever you did or didn’t do, whatever you felt, whatever you were drawn to.

Year in Review – Prompt #1 Books

Through the last two months of 2018 I’m sharing some end of year reflection prompts to help you integrate the experiences of this year and finish up feeling good about yourself, your journey, the year that was and the year that’s coming up.

Here is the first Year in Review reflection and journaling prompt….
—–
What books/ articles/ blogs did you read this year?
Take an hour this week to sit down with pen and paper (or laptop and coffee) and jot down all the books you can remember that you read this year.
1. What themes interested you most?
2. What kinds of characters inspired you?
3. What kinds of feelings/ experiences were you looking for in your reading?
Write for 10 minutes about each of these questions (or another question that feels like it needs answering).
4. Wrap up: what have you learnt about yourself and your year based on what you read? Write freehand for 10 minutes on this, without editing or judgement. Put whatever comes to mind.
5. Wish for next year: What would you like to read more of next year? Write for 5 minutes about this, let it be impulsive, free and creative, steer clear of guilt or shoulds.

That’s it!

Enjoy.

And remember to be kind to yourself as you reflect and write – accept and be kind to yourself about whatever you read, whatever you felt, whatever you were drawn to.

Want to be an actor?

Fantastic!

Now let me know…
Is it standing in front of an adoring audience that brings you the ultimate high? (No shame if it is – plenty of performers love this feeling). Is it surrounding yourself with people in a theatrical tribe? Is it the chance to get outside your own worries and be absorbed fully in the moment that draw you in? Is it the rush of adrenaline? Is it the feeling of fully emerging into and understanding a character? Is it critical acclaim and approval from those who really know the craft and judge excellence your ultimate goal? Is it the physical, textural aspects of costume, set and stage that gets your heart pounding? Is it the ability to share deep important stories? Is it the feeling of connecting a whole group of strangers in the audience to each other through their shared emotions?

Barbara Sher reminds us to dig around and understand the core of what is most delicious to us about our dream. Your driver and mine might be quite different even if we are going after the same thing.

Knowing what ultimately is your ‘nectar’ – the thing you seek at the heart of the activity you like – will help you shape your dream to best meet your needs. Two people might love acting, but what really lights them up might be different.

If you love the rush of a large audience you might decide that musical theatre will get you there faster than small independent productions. Or if you know that storytelling and shared emotional experience really lights you up, you might choose scripts that really deliver on that. These are just hypotheticals, I’m not a performer so they may read clunky if you know this space. But do you get what I mean?

Knowing what is at the heart of your dream can make you more resilient in the face of ‘should do’s’ and clearer about what steps or opportunities will really light you up. This self knowledge makes it easier to find our own unique path that fits us well, like Goldilocks discovering the bowl of porridge that is ‘just right’.

Love letter to a New Year

 

Dear New Year,

 

May you be fresh and fun.

 

May you have ups and downs, sunny days and storms.

 

May we walk together with mutual respect.

 

May you surprise us all.

 

May you remind us of our shared humanity and of our care for each other.

 

May you take us places we weren’t expecting and couldn’t have imagined.

 

May there be laughter, tears, hands held and hugs.

 

May there be plenty of space within you for sitting under trees and having bare feet on earth, bare legs in cool water.

 

May you shift and change us in ways we weren’t expecting and might not have been brave enough to do alone.

 

May you challenge us so that we find our core values over and over again and so that we finish you feeling brave and resolute and strong.

 

May you cradle us when we feel tired and gentle and soft so that we finish you feeling loved and held and safe.

 

Dear year, may you offer us many moments of curiosity, joy, reflection, peace, adventure and hope.

And may I remember that whatever you are, however you unfold, I have choices in how I respond, that my inner world is a space I can shape through learning, healing and mindfulness.

Thankyou for sharing your wonderful self with me new year.

 


 

Letter writing is a format we can use to process and capture our hopes and wishes for the year. Why not give it a go yourself? 

And once you’ve reconnected with what matters most to you this year, see if you would like some company, support and input while you take practical steps towards your dreams. I have openings for 2 new coaching clients to work with me this half of the year. See my Coaching page for package details and get in touch. 

5 things (that might be) stopping you from success

“Don’t wait until to know who you are to get started, the way you figure it out is by making things”
– Austen Klein (who wrote Steal like an Artist)

I’ve been working with coaching clients for two years now helping people get moving towards their wishes.

I love how unique each person is: there are no two exact life stories or sets of passions of strengths. However with the smart, sensitive, creative and multipassionate people I work with (and if you’re reading this you probably fall into this camp too) there are some themes I notice in what blocks they face in taking practical steps towards their long held dream.

1. Your sense of time. As a creative person you might be used to bending and stretching time, falling into pockets of time, and squeezing outrageous abundance out of a short period when you are feeling inspired.

But here’s the thing: time (and your productivity) can’t be expected to deliver such bounty every second of every day.

There will be days when you are doing tasks that are less fun and just do take way longer than you wish they would. Start noticing how long tasks take – not how long you wish they would take. For example ‘updating your finance spreadsheet’ is something you pretend will take 15 minutes but actually takes 3 hours, or ‘making a brochure’ you wish would take half an hour but might actually need to be your main focus for a couple of days. You may not want this task to take so much time, but being realistic about how much time it needs will stop you overscheduling or over committing and will help you give yourself permission to take the time the task actually needs to get done.

If you are still learning the task, or don’t actually know all the steps that it needs feel free to double the time you give yourself to do it – you might need it. Leave the warp speed productivity estimates for the work you really love, and leave plodding time for plodding tasks. Solution: give yourself chunks of time to do things, especially the hard and boring stuff.

2. Fear of being criticised. You want to hit publish on that first blog post but WHO ARE YOU TO HAVE AN OPINION?

You are acutely aware that everyone, from your grannie to that mean girl who never liked you at school, to that awkward guy on the bus will be able to read it and pass judgement on you. They will hate it! They will think you are too mean/ critical/ soppy/ whiney/ happy/ angry/ average/ boring/ spiritual/ emotional/ low-brow/ high-brow/ entitled/ egotistical… They will think you are an amateur/ sell out/ hard nosed bitch/ ruthless bastard/ band-wagonist/ dilettante/ unprofessional…. And whatever else is on your ‘secret fears about myself’ list.

This is deep and painful stuff.

This fear feels like the fear of being rejected, shamed, ostracised. It is the fear of showing our authentic selves and having it not be accepted. It is the fear that we will lose face, reputation, career opportunities, friends or loved ones. This thread usually runs very deep to childhood or whatever situation we first experienced being criticised for who we were, often because others weren’t comfortable with that aspect of themselves or because they expressed their care through criticism or a strong focus on fear and safety, rather than encouragement and love. Going after our own dreams is one sure fire way to come face to face with this stuff.

But please don’t let the fear be the reason you stop.

Get help! What you need is a cheer squad, a tribe, a little safe corner, a mentor or a coach. Speaking these fears out loud to someone who you feel safe with, feeling the pain, shedding a few tears and then taking the tentative tiny baby steps just out of the comfort zone with a trusted other by your side is deep and powerful work. You are rewriting how you see the world – from scary and unsafe and unsupportive to warm, embracing and encouraging. No wonder this is hard to do alone. Solution: feel the feelings and then take safe, baby steps.

3. Your dream has had the enthusiasm dry up and just fear and doubt remains. The dream you had has been sitting on the shelf in the back of the cupboard for so long it no longer looks sparkly and fun but feels like a giant mess of guilt and self doubt. Imagine it cobwebby and covered in dust. It kind of radiates fear when you think of it, and you feel super guilty for leaving it there for so long.

You need to dust off the cobwebs and get a burst of enthusiasm for your dream!

Find someone safe to talk to about the dream. Give yourself space to feel any sadness or guilt or self criticism or any other feelings that have come and settled on it while it was on the shelf. Now let’s get it sparkling again! You need people who see it as absolutely possible, doable and just exactly the kind of thing someone like you might do. When you light your dream up with enthusiasm and sense of possibility again it is a pleasure to be around it and start taking action towards it. Solution: do what it takes to make your dream feel like a happy place again.

4. All or nothing thinking about research or prep has hijacked you. Does this one sound familiar? ‘I can’t possibly start my book because I haven’t finished all the research and I’ll have to research everything so actually I’ll never be ready to start’ or ‘I will never be able to start a business because I would need to do elleventy billion courses first and I don’t have time’.

Do you? Do you really need to do ALL the things?

Can you cheat? Can you just ask three people who know a lot about that thing and see what they say? Can you find one good article that reviews a bunch of stuff and just decide from that? Can you do three hours of research and then start? Sometimes we set up an imaginary perfect scenario as an excuse for why we can’t start – because no busy human has the time or energy to follow our imaginary regime we then have a great excuse to never start.

Imagine you HAD to start tomorrow. What is the bare minimum research or preparation or whatever it is that you could do today? If you reaallly had to? Do that! Then start. And do more along the way as you need it. You’ll have better questions to ask once you get some hands on experience and real life under your belt anyway, so your learning will be richer and more targeted. Solution: don’t believe your hype, you know enough already, just start.

5. Your old mask doesn’t have room for the new you. If you want to BE something but you don’t see yourself ever doing that thing it can be hard to make the shift to owning that part of yourself.

You want to write / sing/ paint/ design/ build / connect but you don’t see yourself as ‘the type of person who…’ (does that thing). Your old identity doesn’t have room in it for this new part of yourself and it resists the introduction of the new.

Try doing a bunch of things that will help you believe that you are the kind of person that does (your thing).

Painting? Go to classes, go to galleries, read books about painting, share your work, tell people you paint. Before long you will believe it. Running marathons? Get outside in your running gear, read fitness magazines, listen to podcasts about running, run around the block. Eventually you will own this thing ‘running’ and see yourself as some one who runs. You can be a beginner, be still learning, be a dabbler but you need to find a way to glue this thing to your sense of YOU. Doing the thing is easier when we don’t have internal resistance because it doesn’t align with our self image. Solution: do all the things you think a writer / painter/ rock climber / business person does, it will help you absorb the new identity with more ease.

These are some of the most common blocks I see stopping people from taking action towards their most heart felt dreams. What else? What do you notice stops you? And more importantly how do you overcome it?

I’d love to hear what resonates most with you from this blog. Comment below or send me an email!

What’s under the hood?

Have you ever seen a sexy career and thought ‘I want me a bit of that!’?

I have. Mine is cake decorating. Forget for a minute that we have diabetes in my family, I’m keen to shift a few kilos and don’t want to be surrounded by sugar every minute of my working day, and would probably spiral into existential angst if I wasn’t doing something my somewhat pompous ego tells me is Useful and Valuable. That aside, my absolute for-fun imaginary dream job is covering cup cakes with tiny roses and sparkles.

In my imaginary version of this job it’s a lot of laughing, rolling out icing, playing with colours and delighting small children and sweet octogenarians with birthday cakes.

But I imagine that under the hood, this job probably looks a bit different.

The light and the dark. It’s own fair share of challenges. Sore feet from lots of standing. Unstable income as a small start up. Sickly sweet smells that get old about one week in. Stressed clients organising events. Late deliveries of dry goods. I don’t know really, I’m just making this up. Which is kind of the point.

We don’t know what’s involved if we haven’t done it or maybe know someone else pretty well who’s done it.

So for my work as an art therapist, sometimes people see the crayons and smiles and happy workshops, and don’t see the admin, paperwork, report writing, the first year of hard slog with erratic income, the lugging of tables and chairs to set up yet another workshop venue, the worries for clients, the self reflection and soul-searching supervision and general support needed, the hours spent wrangling and untangling and sorting materials.

I’m not complaining, I’m doing what I’ve chosen to do and actually I find it immensely rewarding. I enjoy it, it’s fun at times, and satisfying at a deep level. And it’s hard work and long hours sometimes too.

So when you or I next say ‘I’d love to do what you do’, let’s both spare a thought for the gears and workings under the hood of the shiny new car.

—–

More musings…

Which careers do you know that you think get portrayed as all fun that probably have a bit more going on than meets the eye?

How can we get to know what is really involved in different roles or professions when we are exploring a career change?

How can we shape our jobs to have more of what we love and less of what we don’t so that we are playing to our strengths most of the time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resistance training

As soon as I made the commitment I mysteriously no longer wanted to do it. At all.

Huh?

As soon as I made the public commitment to keep painting faces ready to exhibit them, I suddenly stopped wanting to do it.

True story.

I forgot all about them.

Whatever urge I had to work on them had just dissipated, morning dew evaporating under the fierce light of the sun.

This is one way resistance shows up.

As forgetfulness. As sudden disinterest. As sudden more urgent priorities eclipsing the goal or project.

We bury the tender dream deep under protective layers of slumber.

And then we feel safe again.

No vulnerable going out on a limb.

No putting ourself in front of critics.

No deliberately stepping closer to danger.

The long term, deep and diffuse pain of not acheiving our goals seems preferable to the short term anxiety inducing fearful pain of actually moving towards them.

So how to work over, under, alongside or around resistance?

Next week’s post has some ideas.

 

Just keep saying yes

When I started my business, I did all the regular planning and strategising but at the start, feeling a wee bit terrified and overwhelmed, I developed a basic motto and benchmark for myself: ‘say yes to my business everyday’.

What that meant was no matter how daunted I was feeling, no matter how low in energy, or busy finishing up a task from yesterday, I would try to do something that demonstrated that I believed in my business, and was moving it forward.

Write a blog post. 

Email a potential new client. 

Get brochures made. 

Start a twitter account.

Write 5 ideas for that thing.

The very idea seemed like a far-out big dream. It seemed kind of unreal. The magnitude of everything that needed doing was overwhelming. There was the very real danger that I would freeze in fright, or run screaming to something easier. Resistance and disbelief were present and very busy having their say about the whole situation.

The intangible barriers – disbelief that I could really do it, shock at the freedom to choose the shape my work took, fear of the responsibilities that would come as I stepped out into the unknown, feeling a changing sense of who I was in the world of work as I established myself in a new field – these are what made doing things hard. Not the tasks themselves.

Taking something that doesn’t exist yet and bringing it into life is a very different prospect than working on something that is already there. It takes courage, it is a giant leap of faith.

So although I had a business plan and a big list of tasks, at the end of the day I considered myself successful if I had just shown up and said yes in a tangible way sometime during that day. I realised that taking any action at all was a huge act of faith and courage. And I didn’t even care which action I took – I let go of the sense that there was one defined way the tasks should unroll.

So when I hear people saying that they have a lingering dream that they can’t yet bring themselves to work on I suggest also that they just try saying yes everyday. No task has to be huge. People are often working and parenting and doing a million other things, and busy like we all are. No one task has to be huge, but if you are doing even a teensy small thing every  day you are subtly shaping your view of who you are. The dream feels more real, closer. You are shaping the view of you that people around you have. You are bringing the new identity close and into sharper definition.

Say yes with the little things, say yes with the opportunities that jump in front of you.

Want to start a new business? Want to publish a book? Want to be an exhibiting artist? Want to write a song and have it played by an orchestra?  Want to sell your hand made things at a market? Want to start a not for profit? Want to go live on an island? Want to try running your first workshop? 

If you have a dream that’s been hanging around making your heart heavy because you’ve started to wonder if it’s even remotely possible or whether you’ll ever take the first step, just find a way to do something that leads you closer to the dream, every single day.

Make a vision board.

Tell someone at your next BBQ or lunch date about your dream.

Find a book written by someone who has already done it.

Find a community group, MeetUp group our networking group that supports people who do this thing, and go to their next meeting.

Sign up for a short course.

Write in your journal about it.

Send that email.

Ask to help someone out.

Fill your house with the equipment you need, the visual reminders of your dream.

Find a mentor.

No single task has to ‘succeed’ or deliver your dream to you on a plate. The main goal is movement and repeated conviction: that you keep showing up and saying (through your words and actions) that you care about this thing, that you want it. And that you are willing to do things to get it.

Anything that helps show the world what you are passionate about, helps connect you with people who work in that field, anything that builds your skills, anything that builds your confidence that you can do one or more of the required tasks, anything that fills you with fun and energy and reconnecting with the dream. Just say yes to the dream, anyway you can, even though it’s terrifying, even though it feels so far away.

Know that if you turn up and keep saying yes soon you will win your own trust back, the small actions will begin to create ripples, and your dream will start saying yes to you.

 

Is your vision lopsided? Maybe it’s ok.

So I just wrote out a vision for my life this year – clear prose that talks about what I want, in the future tense as if I already have it. A vision board in words if you like. And I noticed something.

It was mostly about work, making art, my wardrobe, my house, homewares, and how things felt.

I red it over and panicked. Oh my gosh! Am I some awful shallow person? Am I focusing only on nice cushions and how things look, and heaven forbid – comfort??

Then I thought some more. Maybe I am just focusing on the bits I want to adjust.

There’s plenty going right in my life. In relationships, friendships, family, education and learning, health, connectedness. But there are some things annoying me in relation to my house, my wardrobe, and even the pattern and mix of my work-life.

So perhaps it’s natural to hone in on that and create a vision of how exactly I would like that. So I can create it!

If you have done a vision board and are worried it’s unbalanced, or your dreams for the future hinge on just one aspect of life, maybe rather than judging yourself harshly for this or worrying about it, you could see it as a sign that everything else is probably ticking along fine!


If you’re not sure what you want or feel like dreams are just something other people have, maybe you need a hand uncovering your wishes. Book a dream discovery session with me to develop your own personalised vision and vision board at the super special price of $120 for 90 minutes*.

Click through to my Contact pageand send me an email and I will send you a link to my calendar to book a time that suits.

*Only applies to bookings made during March and April 2017.