Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shout Out to Free Spirits!

I'm a free spirit badge
I want to take a moment to thank some of you who are proudly displaying the "I'm a free spirit" badge on your blog - fabulous women like KellyKat, Yvonne, Megan, Manon, Suzy, and Jacs.

I believe a free spirit is someone who is dedicated to creating a life they love, while living more boldly, fully and freely.  They take time to go deeper. They enjoy the discovery. They accept their fears and take risks.  They shine from the inside out.

You.  Yay, YOU!  You are a free spirit, too.
You are an authentic, creative, brilliant BEing.
And I believe in you.

Get messy.
Embrace imperfection.
Live NOW.

...and always,

be you!

Feel free to grab a badge, too, and link it to here or here.
And let yourself be freeeeeeeeeeee.

How to be a free spirit list

Your Personal Reflection:  What is a free spirit to you?

(If you are displaying a badge, or decide to grab one today, let me know so I can give a shout out to you, too!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Embracing Your Right-Brain

Free Spirit Spotlight Graphic
If you've been bouncing around the blog world these days then there's no doubt you've come across the free spirit and super fabulous Jennifer Lee, founder of Artizen Coaching and author of The Right-Brain Business Plan.  I've been an admirer of her work for a few years now and was ecstatic to see her new book.

I took a FastTrac program several years ago to write my business plan.  I loved the course.  I stayed up late every night working on my content, mission statement, marketing plan...  And then it came time to do those darn financial statements.  I stumbled.  I procrastinated.  I froze.  Looking at spreadsheets...ick...even the word Excel made me cringe!  And to this day that detailed business plan is stuffed in a 3-ring-binder on the top shelf of my office closet...unfinished.

I'm happy to say that Jennifer's new book is just the kind of inspiration I've needed to dust off that binder and get working on my plan again.  She embraces the creative spirit in us all and guides us to celebrate the right-brain.  It doesn't matter if you don't have plans to start a creative business, Jennifer's insight will provide you with a fresh perspective on loving the whole YOU.  

Enjoy her Free Spirit Spotlight interview...

How did you get to a place in your life where you can fully embrace yourself as a creative being and entrepreneur?
It's been quite a journey!  I'd say the biggest influences that have helped me embrace that I am a creative being and an entrepreneur have been my coach and leadership training and then just taking the leap.

I actually drew a decade in review at the end of 2010 and that really depicts a lot of the key things that have happened throughout my journey to where I am now.

As a creative being, sometimes we can become consumed by all of our million ideas, so we end up doing none of them because we can't focus!  What are some tips you can offer on how to commit and stay focused?
Write all of your ideas down.  I like to put them on sticky notes and move them around.  I might want to work on all of them at once but when I map them out on a calendar it becomes pretty easy to see when I'm doing too much.  I find working with a coach can help me sort through which ideas make most sense for me to focus on.

I love how you say in your book, "The challenge is when left-brain thinking comes too early in the visioning and planning process and kills the party with its questioning, judgment and need for every single piece of the puzzle to make absolute sense before taking that first step." What are some ways you suggest keeping that left-brain at bay during this much needed creative stage?
Give yourself some healthy doses of what I call Left-Brain Chill Pills.  These are simple practices to help quiet your judging mind. One of the first things to do is to acknowledge that both your left and right-brain bring different gifts to the table but that at the beginning stages of an idea, the right-brain needs to take the lead.  You can let your left-brain know that you'll need to tap into its skills and expertise a little later when you need to do research, list out your to-dos, and take action.

What would you say to those who feel stuck, scared and overwhelmed - and just don't know where to begin?
Trust that you know more than you think you do.  Just take the first step and you'll start to gain more confidence and momentum.  It's important to have lots of great positive support when you're taking those first steps so make sure you have a few encouraging friends or creative cohorts to lean on.

So many of us have issues with time - feeling like we never have enough of it.  How do you manage your time and make space for your creative dreams?
While I'm pretty ambitious in my professional life, I keep my personal life pretty simple and drama-free.  I've learned to say no to things that drain my energy or aren't the right fit. I also block out time in my calendar for my creative dreams and I don't schedule over it. During that time I let my phone go to voice mail.  I use the application called Concentrate to keep me focused on my projects for hour-long intervals and then I take breaks.

How do you maintain a sense of balance in your life?
I practice self-care Fridays.  I don't schedule meetings on those days.

What's your favorite art medium for self-expression?
Hmmm, it's too hard to pick just one.  I go through phases, but I'd say throughout my whole life, painting has probably been my favorite.  I like how fluid and freeing it is.

What is a free spirit to you?
Someone who listens to her intuition and follows her inner muse.

What inspires you?
Nature, beauty, creativity.

What do you do for fun?
I do art, take photos on my iPhone with Instagram, spend time with my hubby, hang out with friends, play with my dog, read.

What do you envision for your creative future?
More happiness, abundance, and play.

Thank you, Jennifer, for giving creative spirits everywhere the permission and tools to shine in business and in life.

To learn more, visit The Right-Brain Business Plan website.  And to connect with Jennifer, check out her personal blog or find her on Twitter @artizencoaching.

Your Personal Reflection:  What one creative dream do you have that needs some attention?  In what ways can you start embracing your right-brain and celebrate YOU as a creative dreamer and entrepreneur?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nourish Your Mornings

vegetarian egg scramble

I've been in a bit of a cooking rut over the last few weeks.  This kind of happens to me when a new season comes along.  Last Monday it snowed and I vowed that would be my last pot of chili until next fall!  By the next day it was nearly 70 degrees and I couldn't even get myself to eat the leftovers.

My husband and I spent some time together at the bookstore over the weekend.  We love to grab a bunch of magazines and hang out in the coffee shop.  He reached for house and design magazines while I was drawn to the cooking ones.  And after an hour of sifting through them, I felt reinvigorated to get creative in my kitchen.

In the last few days I made a southwestern salad with avocado-lime dressing, soba noodle salad with ginger-peanut dressing and tonight we are having black bean and toasted corn soft tacos. (All recipes from Vegetarian Times' special Quick & Healthy 30-Minute Meals magazine.)

I've got kale chips in the that what I smell....?

Ok...I'm back and happy to report the kale chips aren't burnt and actually taste really good!

After beginning the green smoothie challenge on Sunday, I've changed up my morning routine a little.  I start each day with one large green smoothie. And then a few hours later I have a late breakfast.  Here's an easy, healthy and super yummy egg scramble that I made up yesterday.

vegan egg scramble 2

Vegetarian Egg Scramble
2-3 eggs
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1/4 cup diced red pepper
salt & pepper to taste
fresh avocado (optional)
whole grain English muffin (optional)
(I used an organic spelt muffin.)

Scramble your eggs like you normally would.  I don't use much dairy in our house so I mix a little almond milk in with my eggs.  Right after adding the eggs to the skillet, add all the other ingredients (except avocado).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Top the egg mixture on a toasted English muffin.  Yum...

kestans smoothie

And this little guy can't get enough green smoothies!  He was sick yesterday and his cold is completely gone.  He's rarely sick and never stays sick for long, but man, I'm sure the smoothies aided in his speedy recovery.   

If you would like to join us for the green smoothie challenge, read my last post for details.

Your Personal Reflection:  How do you nourish yourself at the start of your day?

(I took these photos today after feeling inspired by Darrah Parker's photo class going on at the Wish Big E-camp.  So many creative beings in the world...(like YOU)!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Seeing Green

green smoothie

I wanted to send you a little green today as we invite the first day of spring our way!  Woo hoo.  I know so many of you are ready for this time of year, and even though it may not be spring where you live, no matter what season it is, I'm sure you can feel the energy that comes from change.

Many of the past Inside Out explorers and me are starting a green smoothie challenge today.  We signed up here where we'll receive free inspiration for the next 14 days.  Then, we'll share how we feel on our private class community.  I did one of these last year and I loved the way it made me feel. (Talk about energy...)

If you'd like to join us, sign-up to receive the daily emails from the Green Smoothie Challenge site.  Then, simply enjoy one green smoothie, preferably for breakfast, (and using organic produce if possible) for the next 14 days.  You can share how you feel on my Flickr Free Spirit Knits group page - upload photos there and join the discussion!

Here's the smoothie I started with today.  Don't be scared - it's so good!  (And my 3 year old loves it, too.)

Green Banana Smoothie
6 large romaine leaves
2 bananas
2 cups of water

Put all the ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth.  Drink and enjoy!!

Your Personal Reflection:  In what ways can you welcome the new change of season into your life?

Reminder:  The Wish Big E-Camp starts tomorrow!  Are you ready to kick your spring into high creative mode?  No art experience necessary.  Check it out here.

And come back for a visit on Wednesday as I have a very special Free Spirit Spotlight interview to share with you!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Creative Living & The Ten Minute Doodle

If you have yet to listen to Jamie Ridler's podcast series, Creative Living, then you must head on over there!  I had the privilege of speaking with her recently and shared a little bit about my creative journey.  You can listen to that interview on her blog today, where you'll hear me talk about how I came to embrace myself as a creative being, how I practice each day to find and maintain balance, and advice on how YOU can express your inner artist (we all have one)!


And, see that new "Newsletter Sign-up" button on the top-left of my blog?  Please take a moment to send me your email address and I'll make sure you get some buzzin' inspiration sent your way.  My new monthly newsletter, Create the Life You Love, will be full of tips and resources related to creativity, wellness and mindful living.  


Yesterday I had about ten minutes of free-time, so I ran to the art room, grabbed my markers, sketchbook, tea and turned on my Ani DiFranco (who I heart so much!) Pandora station and started doodling.  It was mindless.  It was fun.  It was energizing.

The Ten Minute Doodle

Can you spare just ten minutes today to create a doodle of your own?  I bet you can! Here are the guidelines:  Use simple materials, like crayons, markers or colored pencils. Choose an animal, random design or any image that you can draw quickly.  Don't think about it.  This is a doodle - not a perfect masterpiece!  Turn on some energizing music and let your mind go.  Play with lines, colors and designs.  Doodle away - with no judgment.  If you are feeling stuck or rigid, give yourself only ten minutes, and draw with your opposite hand!  Have fun...  

Also, I've created a new Flickr group.  It's a place for you to share your photos and join discussions about the self-discovery journey.  How about uploading your doodle today? Join us at Free Spirit Knits - Create the life YOU love! Flickr group.  I would love to see you there!


The doodle clock!




Your Personal Reflection:  Can you give yourself permission to enjoy just ten minutes of creative play today?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Looking Back and Giving Back

photo cowboyhat

I'm loving my break from work deadlines to tackle some of the lingering projects I continue to push to the back of the taxes, backing up computer flies, packing the winter clothes and getting ready for spring.  Taxes have to be done this weekend.  Then, it's deciding which seeds to start planting for our garden. And after that...the project I'm the most excited to conquer is sifting through my digital photos and videos of the boys.

Here's my plan...  First, to organize my iPhoto library - clear out the old photos, organize the ones I'm keeping and back them up!  Then, I'm going to pick my favorites and make a photo book for each boy.  Then, I will go through all of our home videos and make DVD's so we can actually watch and enjoy them, and not let them get lost in computer-land.

I started organizing just a few photos this morning and I am so excited to dedicate some quality time to this project.  It could be daunting if I really take a look at just how many photos I have to go through, but I am enjoying moving at a slow pace.

And for some reason...this project is just a little more fun while wearing a cowboy hat.

I'm realizing that one of the reasons I am falling in love with photography is that it is giving me the visual tools to document my children's history.  Isn't that cool to think about?  Someday, they will look back on all of these memories and be reminded of the special times and love that they were surrounded by during these precious years.

photo boys
As I look through my photos I've been reflecting a lot about what it means to be a mother. With all the devastation going on in the world, sometimes I question what life is all about. It makes me think about how I'm contributing to the world and how I can continue making it a better place.  A friend and past Inside Out participant reminded me yesterday that one way to give back to the world is to raise our children to be responsible, loving, and compassionate beings

And that is why I am passionate about creating the life I love, and inspiring others to do the same, because when our life-purpose is aligned with how we are living each day, then we have no other choice than to be joyous and happy.  And teaching our children that happiness comes from within, is a great, wonderful gift.  When we feel happy at our core we feel moved to share that happiness by being of service to the world.  

Growing, being, laughing, doing, documenting, sharing, giving, receiving...  That's what my photos remind me of, and that's why I am dedicated to being more present in my life...and going deeper along the way...

Your Personal Reflection:  What do your photos say about your history and how are you making the world a better place?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Space to Play

wild flower doodle closer
I spent all last week creating the content and visuals for my upcoming workshop Play, Create, free!  This e-course will be offered on March 22nd as part of the creative offerings during Wish Big E-camp.  I hope you will consider joining us.  All of the courses (10 total!) and fun things planned sound simply amazing...and what a fabulous time of year to nourish your creative soul!

This is the first like...forever...that I don't have a single deadline or work project to finish up.  So I'm taking full advantage of this much needed space for a little "me time" and a lot of playtime with the boys.  Kestan and I had fun making art together today like this flower doodle.  And I've got a few sitters scheduled this week so I can get myself back to the yoga studio.  Ahhh....having space to breathe and be with little plans is oh so very nice...

Your Personal Reflection:  Do you have enough space in your week for creative play and your own personal wellness?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Beginnings...

simple flower

Find the seed at the bottom of your heart 
and bring forth a flower. 
-Shigenori Kameoka

Happy March!  We have had an awesome winter - staying home, enjoying the abundant snow, having fires, making cookies and lots of snuggling.  Even though the weather is still pretty chilly, I find my excitement rising just knowing spring is near.  

With spring coming means it's time to get started on planting our seedlings.  Last year was the first time we attempted a full-size garden and this year we are doubling our plot at our community garden to a 10 by 25 foot space.  Any tips and suggestions for getting started, since I'm still a newbie, are much appreciated!

Getting ready to plant seeds got me thinking about how preparing and caring for a garden has such similarities to the love and attention our own lives need.  I share more about this in a new article for Rhythm of the Home magazine.  Feel free to stop over there and read, Cultivate New Beginnings and Allow Your Dreams to Bloom.

And don't miss the amazing giveaway going on right now on the Rhythm of the Home blog!  They are giving away amazing prizes and all you have to do is leave a comment by this coming Monday.  

One prize includes a spot in the upcoming Wish Big Ecamp that I'll be teaching at in just a few weeks.  (So excited!)  One winner will enjoy a spot in this weeklong adventure which includes 10 creative workshops, plus tons more.  It is going to be so incredibly nourishing, inspiring and fun!  Will you be joining us?

Your Personal Reflection:  What excites you about spring?