Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kestan Wisdom

Mountains with Sun
Photo by Chris Duh.

Words spoken by my wise little 3 year old...

Heaven is a planet.  
There are stones and fire on it.  
And there is magic grass on it that makes people new again.  
Heaven is a magic planet. 

Your Personal Reflection:  What do you think?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Miracle of Life

Utah Mountain Range
Photo by Chris Duh.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  John Muir

A dear family friend passed away on Friday at the age of 36.  He was too young. And yet, his life was so incredibly full as he touched so many.  The celebration of his life was beautiful, awe-inspiring, sad and joyous.  He came from a family so grounded, so compassionate and so loving - that they are an inspiration of what living fully truly means.  
This friend loved and respected nature.  And his adventurous spirit would call him to the mountaintops where he could see the views, feel the peace, and connect to the miracle of life.

And although it is so hard to say goodbye, we know his love, his likeness, and his gentle spirit lives on.   

We are all one.  We will all take our last breath one day.  So until then, I will forever be inspired by my friend and his dear family to embrace, respect and be grateful for my breath in this moment.  And I will think of our friend each and every day as I am reminded to expand into the greatness of life, to live more fully, to be of service, to make deeper connections to others, to hug and kiss my friends and family and to say "I love you" even more...and...to let the mystery be...

Your Personal Reflection:  There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.  - Albert Einstein

Take your deepest breath, live your fullest life and see the miracles all around you - today and every day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Change is Happening All the Time

Change in Seasons
Photo by Chris Duh.

Your Personal Reflection:  Are you noticing the changes taking place around you?  What about the changes happening within you?  Slow down today and simply notice...  What do you see?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chuck the "To Do" List & Get Outside

exploring outside

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. -Lao Tzu

I can't seem to get enough nature these days.  So on this particular day our "to do" list was happily left behind to "do this" instead.  And while touching the dirt, feeling the warmth from the sun, smelling the fresh air, tasting the woods and seeing the joy in my boys - nothing else mattered.

Your Personal Reflection:  What would happen if you throw out your "to do" list today? How about doing just that and see what it feels like when you stop rushing around and make time to reconnect with nature.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mothering with heART Update


Hey YOU.  I'm on a road trip for a family wedding but I wanted to post a quick update.

Many of you have expressed your interest in my newest e-course, Mothering with heART. And I'm SO grateful and happy about that.  But I wanted to let you know that this course will not be ready by the dates I had originally stated.

Some of you also mentioned that you were waiting to take this course instead of Inside Out.  So if you are one of those people, please know that Mothering with heART won't be offered as an e-course until at least after the first of the year.  I'll explain why soon.  And there will be some other fun things we can do together that relate to this class.

So sorry about that.  Sometimes you just gotta slow down and not rush the process...

If this news happens to change your mind about signing up for Inside Out:  A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery, you can still register by this Monday, September 12th. Class starts that day.

Big hugs and I'll see you next week after we do lots of playing, dancing and cake eating!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Awaken to Your Authentic Exceptional Life

Free Spirit Spotlight Graphic

Sometimes when I'm feeling confused, down or just plain blah, I get a jolt of inspiration when I read about the journeys of other women - how they cope, what energizes them, and how they find courage to stay true to themselves.  This next Free Spirit Spotlight shares with you one such woman - where when you read a small piece of her story you can't help but take a deep breath in and smile.

It is a privilege to introduce you to Kelly Dahl.  She is a mother, personal coach and a lover and explorer of life.  Pour yourself a cup of coffee, kick up your feet and sit back while you enjoy her very personal, honest interview as she shares how she's learned to dig deeper,  take some risks, and ultimately follow her heart down a path towards her authentic, exceptional life.
Tell us a little about yourself and your creative life.
Why is it that this question freezes me up? Who am I? Well, I am a person who is always seeking and working to figure that out, to grow and learn and expand all the time. I am my role as wife and mama, editor of Sparrow Magazine, personal coach and blogger. I love being with my 5 year old son and 2 year old daughter. I love being with my husband and experiencing the miracle of growing, learning, and figuring out life together. 
I never really thought of myself as a creative person until Inside Out helped me fully embrace the glorious creative being inside of me. I can now see that creativity has been the spark illuminating everything that I’ve done. I was a middle school English teacher for several years before returning to get my Masters in Social Work. Most of my professional life has been dedicated to helping young people better understand themselves and the world around them, to gain the strength to go out into the world capable of seeing their dreams come true. Many of the young people I’ve worked with have had a variety of obstacle on their path, in the shapes of poverty, substance abuse, victimization, and cognitive, physical, and mental health differences. I know now that at the heart of all the work I’ve done is creativity, in my ability to connect with people different than me, and my ability to see the tiny sparks of hope in any situation.
Now creativity is part of my every day. Whether I am creating art by myself or with my children, or even just making a grocery list. I try to do things in a way that inspires me, that makes me happy, and that has a little bit of beauty in an every day task.

How did you get to a place in your life where you can embrace yourself as a creative being?
This can still be a struggle. Most of the struggle comes from the judgmental voices that I hear all the time. “You aren’t good at drawing and painting. Why are you wasting your time and money on that? There are so many people who are so much more creative than you. You might like that, but you don’t have the raw talent it takes.” 
I was never a stand-out in the creative pursuits. Honestly, art classes were some of my lowest grades in school. But I was always happiest doing creative things. 
The first step for me was really taking the time to recognize the judging voices. I’ve spent a good amount of time analyzing some of the sources (mostly past experiences and relationships). By exploring that I can sometimes name the voices or put them in context. This helps take away their power over me. I’ve also realized that my self doubts and the judging voices are going to be there no matter what. So sometimes I just hear them and say “Okay, you’ve said your piece. Now I’m going to do mine!”
It’s not a perfect system. I still get insecure and doubt myself. But most of the time I can just be free to create as I wish.

You mentioned that you took the Inside Out e-course - can you share a little bit about what you gained from taking it and how it helped you along your creative journey? 
Inside Out was a life-changing experience for me. I was a part of the very first run of the course back in January of 2010. At that time I was in the depths of many struggles....possible post-partum depression, extreme exhaustion from never sleeping for more than 3 hours at a time, living in a new city where I didn’t have any friends or support. It was a very tough time. 
Inside Out was a life line to other like-minded women. It also was the first time I really focused on being creative without judgment. I connected with amazing women around the world who were having struggles very similar to my own. I also connected with incredibly inspiring women who do admirable things, and for the first time was able to see them as women just like me. This was a major awakening. I realized that it doesn’t take genius or extreme talent to create something amazing. It just takes deliberate action, the freedom to create a vision, and being open to the creative process. 

I participated in Inside Out a second time in January of 2011. This time I was able to dig even deeper and discover more about myself. It was really amazing to see the ways I grew between the two courses, to compare answers to some of the journal prompts, to see what obstacles I’d removed and what new ones had crept in. It was especially amazing to see that I had achieved some of my big goals. This made creating new goals that much more exciting, because I knew that I would see them come true.
I really loved being an active member of the Inside Out discussion forums. I’ve made some amazing friends through Inside Out, people that I know I can turn to for advice or if I need support. While these friends may live far away from me, I know they are there for me in whatever way they can be. These connections have made me a stronger person.
While the creative exercises opened me in new an amazing ways, the journaling was definitely my favorite part. I have always been a writer, and have looked to my journals to help me make sense of my life. The prompts in Inside Out took my self exploration and kicked it up a notch, helping me dig deeper than ever before. I now know myself better than I ever have in my life. I feel confident in the person I’m uncovering, like my true self is finally emerging and is ready to take on anything.

What's your favorite art medium for self expression?

Painting is my favorite medium right now. I love the fluidity and the unpredictability of it. When I paint I can turn off my thinking and analyzing left brain and just be with myself. I find it very meditative and soothing. If I’m having a bad day I can take out some paints, lose myself for even 10 minutes, and truly feel like I’ve hit my reset button.

What is a free spirit to you?

I believe a free spirit is someone who is living life on their own terms. A free spirit has created a life that meets their needs--creative, spiritual, financial, familial, and communal. A free spirit lets go of judgment and sees hope, beauty and love in everything.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I love to read, and do so all the time, whether it is books, blogs, magazines, or fliers hanging in the local coffee shop. I love to take in information, digest it, try to make sense of it, relate it to myself and others in my life. I even get frustrated sometimes that there aren’t enough hours in the day to read. 
My children are amazing sources of inspiration. I love to watch how my children embrace life with so few filters. When they dance they move their body every which way and you can just see how good it feels. When they create art they do so freely, often with their entire bodies. When they play they are loud and messy. While this can cause problems, like when sand is thrown or a toy is grabbed or the paint goes flying across the room, it is so inspiring to watch. I love how both my kids love to go up to strangers and exclaim something as simple as “Me 2!” (from the 2 year old) or “I go to Kindergarten now!” (from the 5 year old), as if everyone is thrilled to know these things. They are free from thoughts of “Do they like me? Is my outfit cool? Do I look fat? Do I sound stupid?” I know these inner critics will come along for them at some point, but I relish in the lessons they teach in being free, confident, and happy to be alive.

How do you manage to find time and make space for your creative projects?
One thing I do every Monday is what I call Weekly Inspiration. I take some time in the morning and look through some of my favorite books. I have a habit of reading books like I’m still in school, underlining passages, starring sections. I leaf through the pages re-reading parts I’ve marked, until I find something that really speaks to how I’m feeling that day, or how my week is looking. Then, I open my big art journal and create a page for that quote or phrase. I might create a background, or a doodle, or do something with the words. I leave the page open all day so that I can add to it when I have a minute or two. Sometimes the page is finished in the morning. Other times I don’t finish it until the next day. I take a picture and post it on my website as a source of inspiration for myself and others. 
I love having one little creative project that I can count on every week. I also love taking the time to really think about how I’m feeling and finding a way to express that in someone else’s words. 
For me, the biggest thing that allows me to be creative as a mama is to accept and embrace imperfection. If I want to create something while my children are up and playing, I will be interrupted and my arm will be jostled at some point. If I expect anything different I’m setting us all up for discomfort, frustration, and some sort of yelling episode. If I really have something I want to focus on I do it after the kids are in bed.

What would you say to those who want to live a creative life and find their artist within, but don't know where to begin?
First, I would recommend signing up for Inside Out. I think that is a great starting point for anyone. 
Then I would say practice creating freely, without judgment. Take a playful attitude to creating. Focus on the process, the feel of a paintbrush in your hand, the way the paint moves and swirls, the reaction between colors on a page, instead of thinking about the product. Don’t plan, just do. Then, put whatever you create away for a few days. Come back to it. It is always surprising how different your art looks a few days after creating it. 
Dive into the process again. And again. Make the time to create, just a little, every day. Add a doodle to your grocery list. Draw some spirals on paper with your kids’ crayons. Tear inspiring images out of a magazine and tape them on a wall in your bedroom. Even if it seems small and insignificant, taking a little time to be creative can open up so much more that you would ever think.

What new projects are you working on and where can we learn more about you?
I just released Sparrow Magazine - a project I put together with my lifelong friend Emilie. Sparrow Magazine is an online publication dedicated to inspiring deliberate living. Emilie and I both believe very strongly in the idea that if you are making wise, mindful, and deliberate choices in all aspects of your life you can do really amazing things. 
Every aspect of your life is connected -- the food you eat, the way you move your body, your home, your relationships, your creativity. Everything. When you nurture all aspects of your life it opens up enormous and glorious possibilities. Sparrow Magazine is about that. It’s about caring for your Body, Mind, Nest, and Connections so that your dreams can take Flight. The articles in Sparrow help inspire readers to do just that. 
We’re so excited about the incredible response we have had to our vision. There is an amazing community developing on our site as people are reading and commenting on the articles. Sparrow Magazine is a quarterly publication, free for all readers. Our next issue will take flight December 1, 2011.
Perched to Fly is my Personal Coaching site. I work as a coach helping people to live an exceptional life. I believe very deeply that everyone is capable of excellence. I assist people in defining their own personal life of excellence and then taking action on making their dreams a reality. My work is a merging of my background as a teacher, Social Worker, and therapist, as well as my own life journey as a seeker, explorer, and believer in the creative process. I provide inspiration, creativity exercises, ask big deep questions, help clarify and synthesize ideas and visions, and whole heartedly support people in creating a life of excellence. 

Thank you, sweet Kelly, for sharing your beautiful, honest, creative, compassionate spirit with us all.

Now, pour your second cup of coffee and get on over to read the first issue of Sparrow.

Your Personal Reflection:  In what ways do you allow yourself to go within and get more in touch with your true self?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

TRUST and Express YOUR Creativity

Today I'm sharing a few more testimonials from two past life-explorers who took my Inside Out e-course.

Free Spirit Spotlight Graphic

First, meet the beautiful, enthusiastic and 4-time-course-taker, Karen.  Here she shares a little of what she learned about herself from her Inside Out experience - including her ability to TRUST the process, to stop striving for perfection and to embrace her own unique brilliance.

How did taking Inside Out change your life?
I have gone through periods of doubting my own intuition, not listening to my voice, not believing I am a creative person, or that I can create my own life and live it happily not worrying about other's opinions.  Since taking Inside Out, I am learning to trust my own voice more.  I am finding my self, my community and my own special creative life.  I worry less about what others think of me and I am learning to just be ME and make that ME the best I can be.  I have learned that I can be creative and artistic, even if my art and my creations aren't realistic or perfect.  I am learning to let go more and be more free and find the balance of what works for me and my family.  I am learning to be more in the moment and be more creative with my daughter as well, which is a nicer way to mother!


What did you learn or take-away from this experience?
That I am a creative individual and I can create everyday.  I don't have to create for money, for acceptance, or for praise.  I can be creative in how I live, how I parent, how I cook and how I live my life. And I need to be creative everyday.  It feeds my soul and makes me feel as if I have accomplished something worthwhile.  It makes me peaceful.  And then I can fully support the creativity in my daughter or my husband.  So digging in the dirt for my daughter is more of a pleasure for me to watch than fretting about the dirty clothes she is making that I'll have to clean.  I can fully support my hubby's love of gardening, as it is his creative outlet.  I really feel how much creativity feeds us and now I know that I need it so much, I take time for it and I give others time for theirs.  If I don't create now, I feel it.  I get grumpy or cranky or rigid.  So my intuition is much more important to me now and I guide more of my life by it.  I am learning by taking Inside Out, to feed that inner voice and my own individuality and to love it all!


What did you love most about the course and the on-line community?
How open and honest we could be.  How much support we got and gave each other.  I loved the sense of community we had.  We felt we were in this experience together and we felt understood in our passage through this course and our creative makings and endeavors to be more creative and free.  The course was wonderful and I looked forward everyday to the readings and the play assignments.  Even though I took it four times, I still loved it and looked forward to it so much every time.  I always wondered, what will I uncover about myself today?  What will I learn?  What will I create or be brave enough to try?  This course really got me playing with art and I have NEVER done that before.  I always felt if it wasn't perfect, it was art.  I know better now and that is so freeing.

Would you recommend this course to others and if so, why?
YES, YES, YES!  Inside Out is so wonderful and I would hugely recommend it to everyone!  I learned so much and have grown so much from taking it.  Just to know there are creative people in the world who are reaching out to be more creative, more free, more themselves, is such a blessing in this world.  Taking Inside Out has led me back to who I was before I was taught to be like others, to buy into what others thought I should live like, look like, create like.  Now I am free of that.  Now I listen to my own voice and trust it.  Now I create.  It is imperfection I create, but it is okay and I'm learning to love that and just create and be me.


Next, meet the lovely, wonderful Carol.  Watch her video below to learn how Inside Out made a difference in her life, too!

THANKS to you both, for sharing a piece of your creative journey with us.

Your Personal Reflection:  What part of your journey are you ready to share with the world?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to Pick the E-course That's Right for YOU

Over the weekend I was making a welcome video for my upcoming Inside Out e-course and decided to make this very impromptu video to help those of you wondering how to pick the e-course that is right for YOU.

E-courses I mention in the video:
Megan Monique's e-course:  Sacred: A Journey through the Sacral Chakra
Amelia Critchlow's e-course: Experimental Art 
Tracy Clark's e-course: Picture Inspiration

My e-course, Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery starts this Monday.  Visit HERE to learn why I created the course.

Your Personal Reflection:  Today, take a moment to write out all of your celebrations and everything you are grateful for in your life.  Then, write about the things that may not be working as well.  Take one small step towards creating a life YOU love.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Why Inside Out? (and your chance to win)

Butterfly Taking Flight

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies. -unknown

When I launched the first session of Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery e-course in January 2010, I had no idea what was about to take flight.  The journey, the discoveries, the explorations, the support, and the love that have taken place over the last few years has been incredibly special.  I also had no idea that I would get the amazing opportunity to meet so many fabulous women from all over the world.  We have connected, shared and grown together.  And many, many of us have continued to build life-lasting friendships.

For those of you who are considering taking the 5th session of Inside Out this fall, but have yet to take the plunge, I am sharing testimonials over the next week from just a few of the creative explorers who found the courage to sign-up, dive deep and share a piece of their journey with the world.

Today, meet the lovely Lee...

BIG thanks to Suzy of Hip Mountain Mama for sharing why you loved taking Inside Out, and
to Jennifer of The GlutenFree Advocate for sharing your life-changing experience from taking the course, too!

Visit Roots of She and read my newest article Think a New Thought; Change Your Life - how journaling helps set your inner dreams free.

Two Chances to Win:

Visit Jennifer's site and Rhythm of the Home blog to enter for a spot in the upcoming Inside Out e-course that starts September 12th!

Your Personal Reflection:  Are you ready to celebrate your inner courage and make a change in your life?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rhythm, Sparrow & Your Chance to Win

Embracing Fall

Change is the essence of life.  Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become. -unknown

As we prepare for the change in season, NOW is the time to make YOU a priority in your daily life.  Stop by Rhythm of the Home magazine to read my fall article that gives you tips on making space in your schedule for the things that matter most to you.

AND, visit the Rhythm of the Home blog for your chance to win some wonderful prizes, including a spot in my upcoming Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery e-course! (Starts September 12th.)

Paintings Drying

There is also a beautiful new online magazine that came out today called Sparrow.  Their tagline is "inspiring deliberate living" and it's full of mindful, inspiring posts.  Check out my article, Play With Paint and Be Free.

Your Personal Reflection: The women who started these online magazines had a vision - they followed their hearts, took some risks, faced their fears and put a lot of hard work, love (and probably some tears) to make them a reality.  What small steps can you take, RIGHT NOW, towards a creative dream YOU have?