Friday, November 28, 2008

Honor Thyself

More Great Stuff
When you are stop looking for it, you find what you need. Someone said that, but I don't remember who.

10 Ways to Honor Thyself Take the self-love challenge and discover the beauty within.

By Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway
"To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness." - Robert Morely
Love is one of the most powerful energies on the planet. We are born with love in our hearts, and it lives within us all. But some of us put so much focus on finding love and approval "out there" that we never get a chance to truly develop it within ourselves.
We look for it in the external world--from parents, partners, friends, bosses, new people we meet, people we admire. If any one of them disappoints, devastation follows.How many times have you been hurt because of someone else's opinion of you? When we experience self-esteem only through the eyes of others, one unkind word or a bad mood in another can shatter our sense of self.
Are you feeling the love? If not, it is time to take our self-love challenge--10 tips and techniques to help you enhance your life by cultivating love from within.

Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway is an interfaith minister, wedding officiant, and love coach. She is widely known for marrying couples in unique and personalized ceremonies, and for her work in helping people get ready for soulful love. She is moderator of The Soulmate Project on Beliefnet and author of 12 books, including The Goddess Pages: A Divine Guide To Finding Love and Happiness (Llewellyn, Nov. 2008), Wedding Goddess: A Divine Guide to Transforming Wedding Stress Into Wedding Bliss (Perigee, 2005) and the e-course, Find Your Spiritual Soulmate. Visit her at
Continued on Slide 2: Create a Self-Love "Curriculum" »

What Do You Think?

Ten thousand hours
November 28, 2008

Dear Sherrie,
Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, Outliers, has some implications for artists. Like his other books, The Tipping Point and Blink, it's a refreshing pop-culture examination of well-worked subject matter. Outliers is about the phenomenon of success--what impedes it, and what delivers it. It seems a lot of the qualities we think are going to produce success, aren't.
Raw talent, for example, is far down the list of Gladwell's succeeding virtues. Being born in the right time and place, to the right parents is more where it's at. He's sorry, but he thinks just too many wannabees are disadvantaged from the get-go and don't really stand a chance.
This kind of flies in the face of the self-made-man concept--the guy who pulls himself up by his own bootstraps against terrible odds. Gladwell cites all sorts of really bright, well-educated and naturally talented folks who never made it.
Gladwell really gets on track when he suggests that cognitively complex pursuits require ten thousand hours to get good. Drawing on a supply of examples, the rule seems to go for champion chess players, classical music composers, brain surgeons, top hockey players and fine artists. We're talking fine artists here; those who more or less know what they're doing."Success has to do with deliberate practice," says Gladwell. "Practice must be focused, determined, and in an environment where there's feedback."
Further, the penchant for study, reflection, application and hard work is often propelled by obsession. While obsessive behavior may be an antisocial plague to societies and communities at large, it's total moxie when lone practitioners catch it.Natural common sense is a big factor too. "You need to have the ability to gracefully navigate the world," says Gladwell. Apparently you need the ego-force to get what you want.
Moreover, no one in any significant profession can do it without the help of others. Even hard-working ten-thousand-hour obsessive-compulsive introverts have to learn to bring agents and enablers into their sphere.
For some, this comes naturally, even easily; for others, particularly those in the outlier and self-starting professions, it's a long and dusty road pocked with trial and error.
Best regards,

PS: "We vary greatly in the natural advantages that we've been given. The world's not fair." (Malcolm Gladwell)

Esoterica: According to Gladwell, much of what we wish is beyond our control. Some of us are more blessed than others and have opportunities to see things others can't see. Poverty, particularly at the youth level, is highly restrictive. In education, which is at the root of success, fancy new schools, charismatic principals or new technologies won't fix things, because the fact is poor kids don't have the opportunities at home during the school year, and have scanty chances of stimulating summers.

I actually disagree with Robert on this one. As far as putting in the hours, he's right to a certain extent, but we all have to start somewhere. I myself grew up somewhat poor with little expected of me (because I am female), yet I found my own way. No, I'm not famous yet and maybe I would have gotten here sooner if my family had money BUT . . . I believe that if we were meant to become something, meant to create something . . . If we are here to give something unique to the world, we WILL find our way. The twists and turns along the way may be exactly what we need to LEARN the message we are meant to give to the world.
In my case, I could not be writing this novel IF I had NOT had the experiences I have had in my life.
BUT, let's give Robert the benefit of the doubt and put in those 10,000 hours, ONE minute at a time, ONE day at a time.

Finding Peace

So Much to Worry About
By Sandra Lee Schubert
I don’t know anyone who is especially peaceful at this moment. The whole world feels a bit threatening. So many of us find ourselves in a tumultuous and unsure state of being. We are filled with fears and worries – about losing our homes, jobs, retirement packages, freedom. We are concerned about the state of our nation, the election, the war. Each day presents a new struggle we must grapple with. There is no doubt these are tough times. However, if we try to redefine our personal definition of peace, and look for gentle ways to incorporate it into our everyday lives, we might find a way to better weather the storms. Sandra Lee Schubert is an interfaith minister and author of the on-line course, Writing for Life: Creating a Story of Your Own . She is co-facilitator of the Wild Angels Poets and Writers Group at the historic Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in NYC. Visit her at
Continued on Slide 2: What Does Peace Mean to You? »

Sunday, November 23, 2008

peripheal vision

Hey, make sure you click on "current clickbacks" in Robert's letter. The idea of "the subconscious eye" is adding depth to my writing. How often have you been in a converstaion and been focusing on something off in the distance? That woman looking at the chocolate cake totally reminds me of myself.

Robert Genn's Power Hour

Power hour
November 21, 2008

Dear Sherrie,

In my part-time, unpaid job as an art coach, I hear from folks who are suffering from lackadaisicalitis. While they may be naturally talented, they seldom produce art and have little motivation. It's easy to say they don't want things badly enough.
One of my suggestions is to try to rewire the habit patterns using the "power hour" system. This is where distinct times are set aside for concentrated, all-out easeling. The idea comes easily to some and runs against the grain of others. It may have something to do with fear of failure. "Organizational fatigue" is where a person gets tired of being in systems that are frequently aborted. In supposedly self-motivated lives, I call this problem "the contrarian trap," and some folks have it in spades.
To make the power-hour concept work, you need some sort of day-timer. While regular calendars will do, I recommend a custom one pushed out by your printer. While mine is nothing much, we've put sample close-ups at the top of the current clickback.Entries can be made before or after the fact. Sometimes it's not nice to push yourself around but nice to make note of missions accomplished. At other times it's valuable to pencil in distinct power hours for the day ahead.
Sometimes, minutes of preparation and starting at the top of the hour are good moves. I like to squeeze out first and get my ducks in a row. It's amazing what you can get done in one golden hour. I've found the system works best when I'm not to be distracted and treat the exercise as a bit of fun.
Music helps.Theorists like Thoreau and Emerson looked at the value of self-regulation. While some of us are unexplainably driven, my experience is that the Achilles' heel of many artists is simply lack of self-regulation.
Further, many say "I don't want to go there," and that's fine. For those who want things badly enough, a few items pencilled in before or after the activity might just become the tiny habit that produces big dividends.Seeing motivational techniques as games may be key to their success. To be simply on the field, playing, is great, but those over-the-fence hits that you get with steady application can make it total magic.

Best regards,

PS: "Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)Esoterica: Many self-regulating artists simply put in long hours and just keep chipping away. The word "sacrifice" often comes into play. Seemingly stubborn and limiting, artists often report they don't do TV, card games or other frivolities. Surprisingly, many don't put much emphasis on food. Some, particularly those with wider responsibilities, sacrifice sleep. Most value regular exercise as "brain changing" activity. One artist friend describes his daily life this way, "I'm like a zombie--the work rules me--I keep on plugging and smiling."

If an hour seems to daunting, start with 5 or 10 minutes. I started with 5 minutes and was up to an hour within a couple months. Also, find a time when you are least likely to find a distraction. Since I am a writer, sometimes I write before I get out of bed in the morning.
Morning is also a good time because you can stay in that twilight, half-dreaming state. Plus you may have dreamt something you want to add to your art.
And other times, you may just want to lie in bed and let your mind wander. See what new ideas come to you. BUT DON'T FORGET TO WRITE DOWN SOME NOTES. OTHERWISE, YOU'LL BE HITTING YOURSELF FOR FORGETTING THAT GREAT IDEA THAT, AT THE TIME, SEEMED UNFORGETABLE.
Happy Creating to you all!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Some of you may notice that most of this blog seems to be more about life than about one's creative process. In the past two months, I have been obsessing about where to go next with the novel I am writing. My coach has suggested the path that many writers have taken over the ages: having a strong story arc and a strong character arc. While these two things are definitely important, many great stories are being told in very unique ways these days.
As I read the Latino writers, I am see stories that do not not even seem to have a plot. Stories that make me wonder if the events happened or if they were all in the mind of the protagonist. These stories have made me more convinced that I need to tell my story in the way that I think best says what I want to say. Of course, some conventions need to be followed, BUT not all need to be followed if it is not the way to express what I want to say.
In my opinion, all these posts can also relate to the creative process. If we can learn to trust life and trust the process, not only will our lives be better, but so will our Art. And, we will definitely get a lot more done if we feel good about our own creative expression.
So, I hope that all of you are trusting the process and most of all trusting yourself IN THE PROCESS. Best of luck in your creative endeavors!

Responding to Bad News

Handle Bad News With Grace
The art of response

by Adrianne Stone

Consider the following: Your boss has just given you the old heave ho - you've been pink slipped. Now how do you react? Your hot water heater has exploded, flooding your basement and incurring an expense far beyond what you can afford - and insurance barely covers it. How do you react?You've just learned that you have a serious illness. You're not sure how you'll cope with the pain, the cost and the anticipated time away from work. How do you react? Any of the above examples can be seen as a catastrophe, but if you try to find the flip side, you may weather the storm with greater ease and grace.
Grace is not just a state to which one can aspire. Grace is what one demonstrates when greeted with life's great disappointments where dignity and a sense of serenity come in.
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Grace under fire This is, of course, often easier said than done. How can one become calm when faced with bad news? Well, that's the whole point: When the bad news hits, resist the urge to kick, scream and pummel your way as you vent your anger. Instead, take several deep, calming breaths and focus. What does this bad news mean to you? How will it affect you? What can you do to face it head-on? This is a time for you to be practical and to examine your situation objectively.
Let's look at the circumstances above: Learning that you've lost your job may feel like a sucker punch to the gut, but remaining calm is beneficial for several reasons. First, because your employer will appreciate your lack of dramatics, so when you ask them for a letter of reference, they will be much more likely to assist you. Plus, you never know what company the person firing you may end up at - they may be in a position to hire you again somewhere else.Second (and most important!), is the grace that you show demonstrates that you are in control and thus makes you feel more in control. Who knows, when you work out a severance package, you may be more likely to receive the optimal arrangement because of your clear headed grace. Third, because the feeling you get from this graceful demeanor will physically and emotionally help to actually calm you. Yes, you still must search for a job, but at least you'll have left with your dignity - and your contacts - intact.
Emotional intelligence Dealing with news of a serious illness is perhaps the most troubling because your mortality is now in question. So calmly digest the news and examine what this means to you. You'll need to ensure that your health policy and your finances are in order. You'll need to arrange for assistance from a close friend or family member for doctor visits, treatments and home care. You'll need to get your finances in order and arrange your schedule to accommodate your treatments. But above all, this is the need to find a calm place - a state of grace - that will see you through. Screaming, panicking, and losing control won't make you better and will push people away - doctors, nurses, advisors - whom you really depend upon to help you. So take that deep breath, examine your situation, and deal with this gracefully. Bear in mind that doctors tend to respond more favorably to patients who have taken the time to intelligently assess their situation and ask the right questions rather than those patients who try and place blame.
Strength in balance As for the flooded basement scenario, it's bad… but no one will die from this. You will arrange for someone to pump out the water, and someone else to install a new heater. Yes, the cost will be painful, but demonstrating your graceful state (and maybe even a little humor!) will make it easier on everyone.
In all these cases, if you can find that sense of grace and balance, you will come through the situation a much stronger person. In fact, it will help you build character. Many people over the age of 40 find that this becomes easier as they age. What would once have sent them into a tizzy now becomes water down their backs. They've been through the anger and losing control and have learned that this doesn't solve their problems. Try repeating "this, too, shall pass" like a mantra… because it shall.
Life is full of challenges, but it's how we meet them that says the most about us. Be graceful, be calm, find a serene place in your heart and tap into that when faced with the worst and you will be happier for it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nafisah's Beating Stress Tips

10 Best Beat Stress Tips
Feeling anxious, weighted down? Feel like you just can't deal with the stress around you? Wishing the things that cause you to feel this way would just go away? Well, there's good news and bad news.First the bad news - some of the things causing your stress are here for the long term. Others will go away, but be replaced by new distressing things.Now the good news - even though you can't escape the fact that there will always be some stressor in your life, there are some basic things you can do to put yourself in a good position to handle stress that comes your way. And you can do your best to not be the source of your own stress!
1 - Get enough sleepSomething as simple as getting to bed at a decent hour is a great start. Recognize how much sleep you need to function well. Stress can cause a lack of sleep. Relax for a while before going to bed (and don't go to be right after watching the news). Caffeine and alcohol before bed are among the most common causes of insomnia. If you have health complications or are on medication, your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medication that won't interfere with sleep.
2 - Eat a healthy dietNutrition and stress are related. The greater the stress you're facing, the more good nutrition you need. Protein, B vitamins, C and A vitamins, magnesium are depleted when the body is in the fight or flight mode brought on by stress. Skipping meals, eating junk foods, having excessive caffeine can actually contribute to stress by making you feel worse. Poor eating habits lead to blood sugar issues, lowered immune system, and that "drained" feeling. Eat healthy snacks of fresh fruits and veggies along with healthy meals and a balanced nutritional supplement. You'll feel more energized and you will help yourself have the stamina to fight back at all the stress you encounter during your day.
3 - Underbook yourselfYou need time to recover from daily stresses. Plan less things for yourself to do in a day. If you regularly plan 10 things and you're feeling overstressed, then start to plan 5 things a day for yourself instead. Learn to say "no". Watch your stress level decrease!
4 - Take a breakDo something fun. Laugh. It reduces the flow of stress hormones. It's amazing how a brisk 10-minute walk clears your head and gives you a fresh outlook. A 10-minute nap has been associated with increased energy, motivation, alertness, and concentration. Taking a break is not being lazy! You're refreshing your mind. You're relieving stress. Enjoy a good break every couple hours.
5 - ExerciseExercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress. The more stressed you are, the greater the amount of exercise you need. When you exercise, mood-elevating endorphins are released into the blood stream. Break a sweat. You'll feel great. As the blood flow to the brain increases, it will "wash out the cobwebs". In addition, exercise promotes restful sleep.
6 - Declutter your spaceClutter reminds us of all we need to do. It gets worse as we waste precious minutes plowing through it to find our keys and important papers. Try setting a kitchen timer for 15 minutes, pick a spot and clean it up the best you can in that time. Stop when the timer goes off and plan to do the same tomorrow. Having a tidy environment is a great stress reliever.
7 - Pay your bills on timeAvoid the stress of late notices, extra charges, and your credit record being jeopardized. It takes a little organizing, so have a specific place to put all bills and pay bills every 2 weeks. Be sure to record in your checkbook and keep your checkbook up to date.
8 - Stop procrastinatingThat means stop putting off till later what you need to be doing now. You know the end result of procrastination - feelings of guilt, inadequacy = increased stress levels.Determine why you're procrastinating. Feeling overwhelmed by a project? Try doing little bits at a time. Are you avoiding something because it's unpleasant? Just do it! Waiting for just the right time? It usually doesn't come.Fear of failure (or even success)? Visualize a good out come. Feel the need to be perfect? Set a deadline, do your best, and realize that your 80% could be someone elses' 100%! You'll always feel better when you do it and have one less thing on your mind.
9 - Think the bestWhen you expect bad things to happen, you are programming yourself to feel anxious, actually attracting and bringing on bad experiences. This can bring out the worst in you and in others. Choose the opposite. Believe good things are going to happen. You will attract good things. Of course, bad things happen to everyone, but keep looking for the good. You usually find what you look for.Set your mind on things that are beautiful, noble, happy. Have a grateful attitude. In the worst of affairs, there's always something to be grateful for. Look for that. Say to yourself "Something good is going to happen to me!" Expect that to be true!
10 - Get help for life issues that are out of controlWhen life stresses are getting to an unhealthy level, seek help, buy a book on the subject, look it up on the internet, talk to a counselor, ask a friend for help, get professional help.A certain amount of stress is normal. An unhealthy stress level over a period of time takes its toll on your body. How you prepare for facing stress and how you deal with it is the key. You might be surprised at how just a couple of life style changes can make all the difference in your stress level.Warm RegardsNAFISAH

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy For No Reason, by Carol Allen

Does your happiness always feel just out of reach, especially in these uncertain financial and political times? Are you sure that once you have that thing - the right job, the perfect partner, a great set of abs - you'll be happy at last? But have you noticed that once you get to whatever (fill-in-the-blank) goal, you feel about the same as you did before? So you take off after some new elusive dream that you're sure will really be the key to the happiness kingdom at last...
Well, guess what? According to a recent book, Happy For No Reason - Seven Steps To Being Happy From The Inside Out by Marci Shimoff (with Carol Kline), this is exactly how most people operate - they think that happiness comes from outside of themselves, and that the right "mix" of circumstances will magically usher those good feelings forward.

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Science says...But a whole host of recent scientific research has proven it's not what happens to you that makes you happy or even unhappy long-term. In fact, a famous study tracking both lottery winners and paraplegics found that a year after becoming rich or paralyzed, a person's happiness level was restored to where it had been before their life-changing event.
So what can you do to be happier without waiting on some external factor (that won't have a lasting impact anyway) coming to your aid? According to Shimoff, a New York Times #1 best-selling author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and a featured teacher in The Secret (film) it's easy - all you have to do is raise your "happiness set-point."

Genetics vs. experienceYour "happiness set-point" is a fixed range of happiness that's been created by a combination of roughly 50% of your genetics and 50% of your life experiences. Obviously you can't change your DNA. But the good news? There are many simple mental and physical habits you can form to raise this internal ability to be happy...

Shimoff recommends:
1. Believe the universe is out to support you. When you have the fundamental assumption that forces are working for your highest good, you tend to take things more in stride and enjoy your process.
2. Stop "happiness robbing behaviors" such as complaining, blaming, and feeling shame. Shimoff suggests putting $2 in a basket every time you do, to help you become more aware of this misery inducing habit.
3. Don't believe everything you think. Here's why - the average person has 60,000 thoughts a day. And a whopping 80% are negative and many aren't true! Thoughts like, "I'm not good enough," "I'm not pretty," "No one likes me," "I'm not ready," are nothing more than the chatter of an anxious mind, but they act as brain poison - literally activating the parts of the brain associated with depression and anxiety, while positive thoughts do just the opposite. So pay attention to your inner voices and counter the grumpy ones with more supportive, cheerful ones.

These simple yet effective suggestions are just a sampling of the myriad ways that anyone - rich or poor, single or married, with flabby abs or sporting a killer six pack - can incorporate into their daily lives to raise their emotional mojo, and make the world a happier place, no matter what world markets or politicians do.

I don't know about you, but I feel better already.

Carol Allen is the host of Enlightening Relationships on Karma Sol Radio and the author of Love Is in the Stars, an eBook about the intersection of astrology and relationships which can be found at a website of the same name.
Listen to Carol interview Marci Shimoff on this week's show...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Your Alter Ego

Hi Halloweeners,

Below is a recording of a creative expression exercise you can do with your alter egos for Halloween.
Have a wonderful Halloween, give yourself permission to embody imagination, silliness, or at least a comfortable pair of slippers.
Click Here
Or download for your MP3 player.
The recording is a little under 13 minutes for Halloween luck and you can stop and start it during the creative exercise according to how much time you need.

Trick or Healthy Treat,
Jilpkin AKA Jill Badonsky

This was fun. My alter ego was a dominatrix. Maybe I'll post mine later. ;-)