Thursday, May 27, 2010

Feeling Free

I can definitely feel summer just around the corner and even more so now that we are heading out of dodge for a family vacation to the Rocky Mountains.  This is the first time the three (and a half) of us have been on an extended trip - alone - without big plans or a family gathering of some kind.  I can honestly say, that beyond knowing where we are going to stay, we have absolutely nothing planned.  No agenda.  Nowhere to go.  Nothing we have to do.  And that's what I call a vacation!

I only have a few intentions set for this trip: 1) to spend as much of the waking day outside - in nature - as possible, 2) to throw away any sort of daily routine we are used to and never look at a clock, 3) to meet my virtual pal, Suzy, in person 4) to eat really well and 5) to relax and be fully present with my two favorite boys!

I am also planning to "unplug."  I know that I'll have to check my phone a few times and will post some photos to Facebook, however, I'm taking an extended break from the blogging world.  So, I leave you with just a few reminders while I'm gone.

Inside Out e-course starts June 21st!
Registration is NOW open for this wonderful creative adventure of self-discovery.  Don't miss your opportunity!  This is the last one I'm offering for 2010.  (Also, if you sign-up by May 28th, 30% of your registration fee will be donated to a charity helping the people of Haiti.)

A BIG thank you to Hip Mountain Mama for the opportunity to be a sponsor for One Small Change.  Visit HERE to see the sweet little write-up she shared about Inside Out.

Summer Camp e-course starts in August!
This is my newest class that I'm still adding a lot of yummy, messy, fun art and exploration to.  I haven't shared any details about the course yet, but you'll learn more when I "plug" back in to my blog some time in June.

For those of you reducing clutter to create space this year, our theme for June is "digital clutter."  Get started on those nagging computer files, clear out your email inbox and start organizing your digital photos!  Let us know of your progress on our reduce clutter forum. (To see a schedule of monthly theme's for the remainder of 2010, check out the right side of my blog.)

Your Personal Reflection:  I feel totally alive and rejuvenated when swinging on a warm day, feeling the sun on my skin and the wind in my hair, while chewing the juiciest piece of strawberry bubble gum.  When do you feel free?  I wish you THAT kind of day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Playin' Around

I'm having fun continuing to play around with my Iphone camera as I get inspired by the experimental art class I'm loving.  These few shots were taken at a picnic Kestan and I had in our backyard.

I love getting pushed to look at the everyday in a whole new way.

It rained for what seemed to be two weeks straight. So as a way to get out of the house and treat myself to life's little luxuries, I took us out to my favorite breakfast joint, not once, but twice in one week!  It was spectacular.  Kestan is a great restaurant companion, and as long as he has a few animals, some crayons or food, he's pretty content to imaginary play by my side.  I even pulled out a few notes to work on for an upcoming summer camp e-course I'm creating.  (More very soon!)

Hipstamatic is still my favorite Iphone app.  You must check it out if you like taking photos with your phone, but want to add some cool and simple vintage appeal.

And after a weekend of being sick, we were very happy to get outside yesterday just in time to enjoy the sunshine.

Your Personal Reflection:  Get out today and do something different.  Play, experiment, and have fun seeing the everyday moments in a whole new way.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Give to Yourself and Change Your Life

Learn the wonderment of receiving.  And you learn this, my beloved, by giving. -Goswami Kriyananda

One of my yoga teachers, Kriyananda, says that the greatest lesson in life is to learn how to receive.  He says that the best way you can learn how to open your heart and truly receive life's greatest gifts is to give.  

Fear causes you to contract.  Love causes you to expand.  In order for you to truly expand, you must love yourself first.  Love yourself - mentally, verbally and physically.  The more you take care of and love yourself, the more you can give.  Allowing yourself to live your dreams and be authentically you is the greatest gift of love you can give yourself.

"I'm an artist."  It took me years before I could say that without cringing or laughing or feeling just plain weird about it.  I can now say it with confidence.  I can also say that I am actually living, for the first time, the life I've always imagined.  I'm the happiest I've ever been.  This doesn't mean I'm happy all the time or don't have bad days.  It does mean that I've learned a lot about myself in the last several years, and that my years of searching and exploring have helped me get to a place where I now know I am the creator of my own life.

If you want to learn more about my self-discovery journey, you can see it here.  What I want to share with you today, though, is what it means to live from the inside out.

We've all been there - knowing we need to make some big changes but not knowing where to begin.  Or maybe we know where to begin, but we don't feel we have the time, energy or resources to get started.  It's so easy to keep doing the same things over and over, until eventually we find that the years have passed us by, and we still don't know who we are.  We have yet to connect to a greater purpose.  We haven't found ways to maintain balance.  We continue to find ourselves with less time, less money and less energy.  Will it ever end?

When I was really stuck in the muck and feeling trapped and unhappy, I turned to the things that have brought the most clarity and comfort to my life - art, writing, yoga and meditation.  Through practice and dedication, I discovered one thing that was really bringing me down was that I was always looking outward.  I thought if I had the better job, or more money, another degree, nicer clothes, or a bigger studio - that this is when I'd feel happy and complete, and my life would be "perfect."  I knew deep down inside, though, that the true work, the magic, and the great change I wanted to see, would happen (and would last) when I turned my focus inward.

I truly believe that when we start to look within, and explore, discover and reflect through art, writing, yoga, meditation (or other quieting, intuitive practices), we can reconnect to our creativity and authenticity.  We are all born with the answers - on how to live a balanced, peaceful, joyous life - yet through our life's journey most of us get lost along the way.  It is through the practice of going inside that we can remember and find our way again.

Inside Out e-course is a creative adventure of self-discovery that allows you to be YOU.  It creates a safe place, one where you can fully explore your dreams, your true feelings and what your heart wants you to hear.  It reminds you that there is no right way to be you, and that the right path for you is YOUR path.  It helps you be ok with messy, uncertainty and letting go of perfect.  It encourages you to take healthy risks.  It gives you permission to explore the endless possibilities that are waiting for you.  It dares you to dream in big and bold ways.

I created Inside Out - the e-course - to guide you to go deeper, so that you can create the life you love.  You take the course in the privacy of your own home and at your own pace, but have the option to connect, share and grow with a like-minded community of fellow explorers.  (Which, I have to say, is an amazing part of the process!)  The course is 4-weeks in length, but the magical discoveries you make along the way will last a lifetime.  

The next session of Inside Out is June 21st - July 16th and costs only $59.  (That's just $2 a day!)  This is the last Inside Out e-course I'll be offering in 2010 as I'll be on maternity leave this autumn.

My first two sessions have been wildly successful and it has been a huge gift to me.  When I first offer the course, I decided that I would offer it if I had up to 10 people sign up.  To my amazement, hundreds of beautiful souls from all over the world have shared this experience with me.  

To give back, and in honor of One Small Change, I would like to offer a special this week.
If you sign-up for the course by next Friday, May 28th, 30% of your registration fee will be donated to NRI Global Charity Haiti. (They still need our help!)

Feel free to email me directly if you have any questions about the course.

Your Personal Reflection:  What does it mean to you to live from the "inside out?" 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Get Inspired

I want to introduce you to some more of my friends!  Stephinie makes these awesome linen sling bags for mommies and your little explorers.  You must check out her Etsy shop and visit her Gypsy Forest blog.  She writes about nature, her kids, creating and shares the yummiest recipes each week.  Mango mint margaritas anyone?  (I guess I'll be making the non-alcoholic version - in case you haven't heard - baby boy number two is due in October!) 

Aimee is truly one unique artist and a super funny woman.  Go take a look at her inspiring creative space and then stop by her Doodleshop for tons of inspiration.  These two doodles are part of her new fabulous magnet collection.  Her art, her wit and her authentic nature always leave me smiling.

Sweet Patricia sent me this beautiful handmade creation as part of our personal card swap.  The back reads "Keep doing what makes your heart happy!"  She's such a delight and shares her journeys of creating and being a mother on her colorful blog.

Your Personal Reflection:  Where do you find inspiration?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Meet Amelia and Embrace the Artist in YOU

I have met so many beautiful souls through blogging and teaching my e-course, and I'd like to introduce you to one of them.  Amelia is a writer, blogger, artist and explorer of life.  She is dynamic, compassionate, warm and quite an inspiration!  Enjoy stepping into her world, and see how she works daily to create balance and joy in her life as a creative mother and businesswoman.  

I am currently a participant in her e-course, Experimental Art, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to discover and more deeply explore your creative side - we all have one by the way!
(Photo courtesy of Amelia Critchlow)

Tell us about yourself.
Ooooh, where shall I begin?  I am an artist and mother to two children and I live in London, UK in a little terraced house with a back garden. Right now the sun is shining (still not warm though) and I can hear birds tweeting in the trees - very English!  My own artwork consists of experimenting with a variety of media - I like using so many things that I find it hard to confine myself to one thing, hence being a "mixed media artist."  I find the world a fascinating place and many of the things in it, treating most things as an experiment is often quite exciting, and I also use art as a way of processing thoughts, feelings and experiences that I have had throughout my life.

How did your creative journey begin and how has it evolved over the years?
My creative journey began from the moment I was born in as much that I was born into a highly creative family.  My father trained as an artist and teaches and my mother trained as a dressmaker and is now a patchwork and quilter.  You can see both these elements in my own work. Both of my sisters are artist/makers, too, and whilst growing up I was always encouraged to make and create and do art - how lucky - I didn't realize just how lucky I was at the time to be encouraged in these endeavors.  Most people are not encouraged to see arts and crafts as proper or sensible subjects to study, which I think is a crying shame, as creativity and the arts foster great lateral thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as being very pleasurable and therapeutic!  I digress. I had my first child young and always went to evening art classes whenever I could, but it wasn't easy with childcare and finances, which is why I have developed the on-line experimental art e-course, because it is accessible to anyone at home with a computer!
(Photo courtesy of Amelia Critchlow)

From there, I had a very powerful dream whilst I was doing my English BA degree, telling me I should return to art.  It took me five years of wandering about before I applied to go back to college to study Fine Art only (my first degree was in English and Psychology) and when I did I KNEW it was the right thing.  I juggled childcare, working part-time and studying art part-time doing a foundation degree.  I then traveled around Australia for 3 months with my then 7 year old, and when I returned to the UK I decided I needed to do a BA degree in Fine Art part-time, so I could both look after my daughter, work and study art.  I did it.  It was hard, but it was the best decision I made.  I am now doing what I love (art) and sharing it with others via teaching.  I do shows and fairs regularly and love the idea of art as a platform for social change, as well as personal change.

Tell us more about your e-course and what inspired you to create it.
The key things that inspired me was the realization that whilst I enjoy teaching, many of the teaching jobs have to work to certain curriculum and criteria, and there is lots of paper work and shuffling of ideas to get your own ideas implemented in teaching.  I have worked in museum's, galleries, educational institutes, as well as teaching on funded community projects, and I really wanted to share what interested and inspired me and what I have learnt over the years that has helped combat that nagging voice that many of us have - "I'm not good enough at art to do it."  I also get this from the adults I have taught in family sessions whereby parents do art and creative things through their kids even though they want to do it themselves, but they don't for fear, or lack of confidence.  Kids pick up art materials so easily and create, and even though many adults want to do the same, they don't.  By doing this course at home you combat childcare, financial and fear issues all at once, as you only share work you are happy and comfortable to share with others on-line, and when you are ready.
(Photo courtesy of Amelia Critchlow)

I am putting in all the teaching methods I know to be experimental and free-flow, with an emphasis on PLAYING - art is truly accessible to ANYONE, and that's why this course is also designed for people who are already practicing artists.  It gives permission to play and experiment trying out new ways of creating and getting fresh inspiration.  On the course, at the moment, there are professional artists and those who have never done art before and everyone is being so supportive and encouraging and sharing ideas - even I am getting fresh ideas and inspirations from the class - it's great!

What excites you about life?
Gosh, what excites me about life, hmmmmm - many, many things!  I love the concept of creativity way beyond art.  I love where art meets life and once you learn to be creative on paper/canvas/in sculpture etc. you begin to realize how your life is one big creative act (or at least this is what I have been learning in my own life) once you realize this, the world becomes far more exciting if you stop to think carefully about what you would like to create next in your own life.  I am excited by books, people and philosophies in and on life that encourages us to be mindful and conscious of what we call forth and create as a result.  I enjoy the visual world, radical and creative thinkers, amazing places of natural beauty, people who have the strength and conviction to speak out about what moves them and live their message, rather than preach their message.  This is exciting.  Oh and art itself, of course!

What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity is a conscious set of decisions and actions that can take place on paper, and in your own life.  We are ALL creative - from the moment we get up and choose what to eat and wear, to how we decorate our homes - it's about getting conscious around those choices and then taking them further i.e. What do you want in your life and what do you want to do?  This is the same when you are considering the materials to use for a piece of artwork and what your theme is, and then what it is you are going to make.  Creativity is the basis of everything if you ask me!
(Photo courtesy of Amelia Critchlow)

How do you balance your art, your business, and your personal interests with being a mother?
This is an ongoing, and very difficult juggling act indeed.  I have a teenager going through teenage things and school exams, and a 7 year old who has special needs (asperger syndrome) and that in itself could become a full time job.  Art balances me, but it can often get sidelined.  I try to set myself days, weekends or blocks of time when I know I can create.  I also have to earn money and that's a reality and I decided that this year I was going to earn money from my personal passions i.e. making and teaching art.  I love doing this SO much.  So bringing my love of art into the same arena as earning money has made the juggling act easier, instead of earning money becoming another separate sphere to motherhood and art.  I can also work from home by running on-line courses which is perfect when you need to be around a lot for children and their (special) needs.

What would you say to those who may be nervous about art, or feel that they aren't creative?
I would say that we are ALL creative as I outlined above, it's about learning, refining skills, continually practicing the things you love and not beating yourself up if you can't do it the first time, or things don't look like you wanted them too (this includes life! - I know because I've been there many times!)  I would say life is too short not to attempt to get in touch consciously with the part of you that wishes to be creative (I've worked in a nursing home, too, and yes, life is far too short not to spend at least some of it doing what you love doing!!!)  Art for me is about combining things, making marks, playing and trying out.  We can all do that, every one of us.  It also makes for a happier person.  Show me someone who is engaged in a creative act, or a creative job that isn't happy and fulfilled!
(Photo courtesy of Amelia Critchlow)

How can we sign-up for your summer course?
Enrollment is now open for the summer course and you can click and join straight away by clicking HERE

There are a maximum amount of places on the course, so once the places have all filled up, I will close down enrollment.  Although I will be running further courses, I limit the enrollment because I give individual feedback to people doing the course and I want to ensure that everyone gets attention.

Anything else you'd like to share?
It gives me the greatest pleasure to be part of someone's journey into creativity and art, so if anyone is thinking of doing this and is nervous, please don't be!  I would love to have you join the journey and do the thing that is so enjoyable.  Thank you for the interview.  It's been a pleasure answering the questions!

I so appreciate you sharing your vibrant self with us, Amelia!  Thank you for allowing us to embrace our authentic creativity and helping us learn ways to feel more confident doing so.

Your Personal Reflection:  Do you feel creative?  What are some of your early creative memories?  Are you ready to face your creative fears and connect deeper to the artist in you? 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Open Road to Feeling Free

(Photo Courtesy of Lindsay Weiss)

I really love the breathing space I'm experiencing from slowing down this month.  I like not speeding ahead.  I like noticing the scenery.  The road is open, the sun is out, the air is fresh, P!nk is blasting through the speakers, and I'm feeling enlivened by new possibilities.  I think I could get addicted to creating space.

Many of you know by now that I'm focusing much of 2010 on reducing clutter to create space for what matters most in my life.  So many awesome bloggers and dreamers have joined me in this hard, challenging, rewarding task and I'm SO grateful that I don't have to do it all alone.

Sarah and I have created a casual list to help guide us as we sift and sort through our clutter for the remainder of the year.  This list takes us through the next seven months and offers a suggested area of focus.  Some of you have created your own list so please continue to do that!  But I know many of you have been looking for some simple ways to get started, and using a list like this one is a great way to begin.

You can find our Reduce Clutter; Create Space list for 2010 HERE.

As you work through your struggles, challenges and celebrations around clutter, please feel free to share on our Reduce Clutter forum.  It is in the sharing and connecting with each other that we tend to grow the most.  If you'd like to see the list of nearly 60 participants making space, visit HERE.

I'm looking for some new explorers to interview on my blog.  If you are interested in sharing some of your experience in letting go, or if you'd like to join the challenge, email me at  (Feel free to grab a reduce clutter badge to share on your blog.)

Your Personal Reflection:  Do you hold on to thoughts or things from the past?  How can you let go of more to create space for your dreams and the things that bring you the most joy in life?  Start today.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Had Fun Trying Something New

I took Kestan roller skating today for the first time and it was pretty darn hilarious.  I felt like we stepped back to the 70's.  The local Skate City offers a morning time just for 2-5 year olds.  I was only slightly disappointed to discover that mommy's don't get skates.  It was actually a good idea because I needed to make sure my feet stayed on the ground for his wobbly wheels.  

Slowing down this month has allowed me a chance to make space for a few things I have wanted more time skating with Kes, painting, clearing clutter in my art room, and playing around with this cool mosaic maker photo program.  I've been feeling really energized and having so much fun doing things out of our normal routine.

Your Personal Reflection:  Do you have a list of the top things you'd like to give a try?  Make a quick list now and see how many you can think of.  Can you try one thing off your list this week?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Life is Short - LIVE it Now

We recently took a road trip to Des Moines, Iowa to honor the life of my grandmother.  It was a wonderful, joyous celebration and so nice to see family members I hadn't seen in years.  This was one of three funerals that week and it sure has us reflecting on life in general and what it means to LIVE it fully and presently.

I've been more conscious these days of what it means to connect deeply to the people and experiences in my life.  This moment is only here for now, and will change.  I want to continue living the best life I can live - right now, and not wait for that perfect moment.  Because really, the perfect moment IS now.

Here are a few snapshots of our trip to the Heartland, that I captured in the moment.

Your Personal Reflection:  Life is short.  Is there someone you have been meaning to connect with in your life or something you've been meaning to do?  Call them today.  Do it now.  

And here's a good exercise to try while practicing living in the moment:  Everyone you come in contact with today - look them in the eyes.  See if you can challenge yourself by noticing their eye color.  It's all too often we move so fast throughout the day that we rarely take the time to do this.  Try it and let me know how it goes!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Less on my Plate = Delicious

I'm giving myself complete permission to slow down this month.  And I don't just mean move at a slower pace.  I mean...stop planning and doing so much.  Just when one project ends, I have 50 others waiting in the wings.  I'm tired of having to think about so much at once.  I'm in great need of enjoying the things that I usually don't set aside time for - like playing in my kitchen.  It's so easy to get in a rut and cook the same things every week, but I was inspired when I visited our local farmer's market last week.  The culinary school was giving demonstrations of this delicious soup. is divine.  And it's super easy to make. 

This is the season for asparagus so go out and try this meal.  You, and your family, will love it.

Spring Leek and Asparagus Soup
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter 
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
2 leeks, washed & thinly sliced
1 lb fresh asparagus, cut in thirds, reserve tips
1 tsp curry powder
salt & pepper to taste
6 cups of veggie (or chicken) stock
1 bunch chives, chopped (garnish)

Heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large pan.  Sauté shallot and the leeks until the white parts of the leeks are opaque and the green parts are brightly colored (about 3 minutes).  Aren't leeks beautiful?

Hint:  Thinly cut the leaks, using the white part and a little bit of the green, below the leaves.  Then, soak them in water and separate them with your hands.  This will ensure any sand or dirt gets washed away. 

Add asparagus (not the tips), curry, salt and pepper.  Continue cooking for another 3 minutes or so.  Add the stock and simmer for 15 minutes until the asparagus is really tender.  Puree the soup until it is really smooth - using a blender, Vita-Mix or immersion blender.

Return to the pot and keep warm.  In a small pan heat 1 Tbsp butter and sauté asparagus tips for about 5 minutes.  Season to taste, and top soup with the asparagus tips and chopped chives.

What a perfect spring meal!  Enjoy.

As I continue to move at a slower pace with less on my plate, I am excited to play more in the kitchen and try new things along the way.  

Your Personal Reflection:  What new things are you making space for this spring?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Enjoy a Creative Adventure this Summer!

I'm SO excited to open registration today for the third session of my e-course, 
Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery. Hundreds of explorers have joined me 
from all over the world and I hope you will, too. (This is the last Inside Out I'll be offering in 
2010 as I'll be on maternity leave this autumn.)
Enrollment fills up quickly, so reserve your spot soon. I can't wait to share this amazing, 
magical, life changing experience with you. Course runs from June 21st - July 16th.

To learn more, click here. To read testimonials from past participants, click here. To 
register, click here. (Gift certificates are available....fabulous Mother's Day idea!)

Your Personal Reflection: Are you ready to start living for yourself, and create the life 
YOU love, from the inside out?