Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Many Musings with August Moon Prompts

Hello and greetings to everyone who is visiting from August Moon 14, the writing prompt series hosted by Kat McNally. It's been wonderful meeting new creative folks, making some new connections and reading what others have to say on the prompts we have received in the past week and there have been some juicy writings out there, let me tell you!

Today I will be musing on the following prompts:

Roadblocks or Just Detours?
Manifesting
Just One Thing
Time and Inner Space

Some of these prompts are related and some are not...or so I thought! Be sure to grab a favorite cuppa since this is yet another long post if you read it all at once or you can jump to each prompt by looking for the colored titles.

FYI: The first prompt is the longest with 'manifesting' and 'time and inner space' being the shortest...

***   ***   ***

ROADBLOCKS
The prompt that came to my email was this:

"Roadblocks or just detours? What tends to trip you up? What is your kryptonite?"

When this prompt popped into my inbox, it got me thinking about what I wrote when I began to set my INTENTION at the start of this writing series, particularly, what I wrote about people that I feel are blocking me:

To rid myself of my angry feelings towards those who have been nasty and selfish to me so I can move forward in my life

I morphed this intention into something that actually works for me and my real needs right now, which I'll come back to when I write about MANIFESTING later in this post, but I want to review this 'intention' because this problem has been my personal kryptonite for a very long time now...

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this blog post by Danielle Laporte and it resonated SO STRONGLY, because the nasty, selfish people in my life were so aptly described in this blog post and my REACTION to them, even more so. Here are the words that illuminated my situation so brilliantly:

"There are endless reasons why someone or some situation might be 'bad for you.'
Subtle-but-perpetual criticism, toxic complaining, disconnection, narcissistic energy suckers, sheer boredom…
Take your pick of vibes that you’d rather not be around.
But a key reason that situations can be bad for you isn’t necessarily because of what a person or circumstance does “to you” — 
it’s how you will have to conform to the situation. The hurt happens when you shrink.
You will have to say less, dull your shine, pull in your power. You will play smaller, act dumber, mince your words.
You will restrain your magnificence — out of fear, or out of logic, or out of the intelligence to survive."

(Italics, boldness and color added to the key words in this illuminating wisdom are added by me)

In my original post, I used the phrase 'fringe-dwellers' to describe these people, which got some appreciative comments from some of my new visitors! I called them 'fringe-dwellers' since they do live on the fringe of my life, but the phrase provided Ms. Laporte is so much more on target: narcissistic energy suckers

And that narcissism is what makes these people so nasty and selfish. While these people do live on the fringe of my life, they have just enough presence on my radar that each encounter is like being in the presence of kryptonite, because of all the pulling, dulling and shrinking that takes place within me...

And when I think of why this pulling, dulling and shrinking takes place, it is because the narcissists don't like anyone else taking up their space!

Which is why they appear so selfish to me - my friends aren't threatened by my brilliance and, luckily, I have a few wonderful friends that remind me of how fabulous I am and how happy they are to have me in their lives.

SECRET: I'M the lucky one to have these treasured friends!! ;)

I most certainly do not get this positive acknowledgement from the fringe-dwellers in my life as they have never really wanted to learn how fabulous I am...and, believe me, I'm more than fine with that!

Unfortunately though, I have to tolerate them regularly throughout the year, which is always painful for me due to the amount of shrinking I have to do, and then the memories of these encounters invade my peace of mind, making the presence of these narcissists an almost daily one, which brings the anger and resentment that I know has been blocking me from my joy and financial abundance...

But as the years pass, my tolerance for shrinking stretches thinner and thinner and it gets harder and harder to do 'the polite thing' and keep my mouth shut...

If I look at the question in the prompt sent to me from Kat, 'roadblocks or just detours', it helps me stand back a bit and come to the conclusion that these fringe-dwellers are really just attempting to roadblock my JOY, probably because they have no authentic joy of their own.

Maybe if I view the time spent in their presence as 'temporary roadblocks', it will allow me to see these 'hazards on the road' as hazards I have the POWER to avoid in my own life, so I can adjust the course of my path accordingly. And with this I just might be able to make those nagging memories more like 'detour pitstops' and use them to help me realign back to myself.

They say that 'success is the best revenge'. If that's true, then maybe one day I can see those narcissistic energy suckers as a positive thing in my life. After all, if there is something a narcissistic energy sucker can't stand, it's the success of an empowered, brilliant being of JOY...or worse - being ignored by an empowered, brilliant being of JOY! ;)


MANIFESTING
The prompt that arrived in my inbox was this:

"Put out the call! Who can help you in manifesting your dream life?"

I think I unconsciously put out that call with the intention I made at the start of August Moon:

My intention is to continue with my creativity AND to search the company of other creative souls, because I know that those who serve their creative impulses are people of kindness, generosity and humor, things I need in my life right now since I'm having trouble remembering how to treat MYSELF with kindness, generosity and laughter

Now, while I just made mention of a few dear friends who are happy that I am in their life (and I feel the same about them in my life!), I have felt the need of a strong support system as I continue to navigate the waters of self-employed, self-sustaining Creative Work.

I once read this brilliant quote:

Employees commiserate, entrepreneurs BRAINSTORM

And reading this quote was like a light bulb switching on in my head. It clarified why I have been slowly distancing myself from the friends who are still living in the environment of corporate office life, a life I just can not return to if I want to retain a shred of my sanity!

Unfortunately for me, the friends who are still in corporate office life are commiserators, more interested in complaining about their work situations than they are invested in changing them.

I've reached a point in my life where I can no longer relate to this way of thinking or being. Over time, I've come to realize that I was never really good at it anyway, which explains my unhappiness and dissatisfaction with corporate office life. It's hard for me to listen to toxic complaining when I'd rather be brainstorming...or taking positive action.

Though I need a strong support system to help me navigate self-employment, I have the added challenge of trying to figure out what or how I want my creative work life to LOOK. There are many venues I have pursued so far and there are yet a few more channels I could pursue to earn an income to support myself. I've created a few opportunities for earning money, but the one thing I have yet to create for myself is a support team of creative cohorts that are also navigating the waters of self-employed self-sustaining creative work. Having such a team of creative people would be wonderful...

But as I mentioned at the start of this post, I have been making some wonderful connections through August Moon, so who knows? Maybe the support team of creative cohorts might be found among these kindred spirits!


JUST ONE THING
This prompt is rather challenging:

"What about your multiple selves? How could you cultivate a life that truly reflects all that you truly are? I invite you to spell out the range of things you are and would like to be"

The challenging part is not the multiple selves part - that is something I've been familiar with as I have winded my way on my path as a Creative Beast. In fact, sometimes I've felt a little like a split-personality as I enjoy both being in the company of others AND lots of time spent in solitude, but having multiple interests as channels of creativity - sewing, collage art, mixed media, book making and knitting, fashion designer and costume maker - has been a challenge as I forge my own path of self-sustaining self-employment...

Within this prompt is the musing that 'putting pressure on your dream life to earn you money can somehow rob it of all its joy' and the reflection that 'it can also result in feeling a total failure if it doesn't come to fruition in the time frame required'.

But the times when I feel most 'joy-less' are the days when I am using certain creative skills to earn money that I've long considered retiring - my sewing skills*.

If I were able to conduct teaching more workshops, or to have online workshops, where I could help others learn self mastery in creativity, and gain personal growth with creativity which I find brings great Joy to others, this would be ideal but this path has been a very slow one to take hold.

So when clothing alterations come my way for earning money I take those projects on, but alterations do not make my heart sing. When recently had to I put out a call for sewing work with a dear colleague, due to some urgent money needs, I admit it was with a heavy heart...until she presented me with a project to re-construct an existing garment by making a new pattern with a better fit. This was an interesting project and when lovely fabric entered the picture, it made the project even more joy-full to work on.

Recently, I've been in contact with a fellow participant in August Moon to take on a long-distance sewing project, something I wouldn't normally do if accurate measurements were involved to create a fitted garment. However, this project is to take a most beloved and well worn existing garment and to make a pattern from it so multiple garments can be made and worn before the original finally falls apart.

This is something I can relate to as I myself have made patterns from existing garments so I could have multiple versions, in favorite colors and patterns, without wearing out the original garment too quickly! When we women find a garment that fits in a way that is comfortable, in a color we love to wear and makes up skip and jump with joy when we wear it, then we want as many of these 'magical' garments as we can find!

And so it's begun to dawn on me that perhaps I can still utilize my sewing skills, but in a way I hadn't considered before - to help others give much loved and cherished garments a new life in a new fabric.

It is still a way to use some old skills and a way to bring Joy to people with my sewing, something I very much enjoy the prospect of!

But to cultivate a life that reflects all I truly am might start to look like this:
  • To continue making art-full books that are purchased by enthusiastic customers who enjoy unique and art-full handmade books
  • To make special, one-of-a-kind gift items that bring Joy to others
  • To find a way to conduct workshops that help people gain mastery with creative skills and gain self-esteem through personal growth and development
  • To find more ways to utilize my pattern drafting and sewing skills to help others give new life to old but much beloved garments
  • To have a handful of students to teach and to pass along my sewing knowledge to
I think there is way to embrace all these parts of myself into a fun and enjoyable creative career!


TIME AND INNER SPACE
Now here is a juicy prompt to think about:

"How will you make time work for you? How do you work and give as much as is adequate but ensure that you have enough left for you?"

THAT is a question for the ages! And it is a question we all look at on a daily basis, whether working an office job or working for yourself...

After my experience with my last full time office job, which I've touched upon in this blog post and shared more details in this blog post, I've learned that giving ALL of myself away to the goals of others does not serve me physically, financially, emotionally or spiritually.

I also know that 'all work and no play' can bring back the burnout quickly and I try to take steps to keep the burnout at bay:
  • I make sure to take a nice hour-long lunch that is usually accompanied with a fun tv show or movie watched while eating
  • I have several short breaks in my day to have a little coffee with a chocolate covered biscotti or do a little work in the garden patio sweeping, re-watering or just pottering about among the plants or I take a late afternoon 'reading nap', where I read a few pages from a book and hope that a little nap takes place
  • I might take a quick trip to my local library on my bicycle, getting a little exercise as well as a book!
As I creep closer and closer to 50, I find Time does run ever faster with each passing day, sometimes faster than I can keep up with, so I try not to bind myself to any particular 'schedule' of accomplishment or goal-achieving in regard to my creative career. This helps me to keep from 'feeling a total failure' if my creative work life 'doesn't come to fruition in the time frame required' because if I don't set a time frame, then there is Space and Time to allow nice surprises into my life, and opportunities to explore that I might not have considered if I kept to a strict schedule.

Since much of my creative life has always evolved organically, it seems to be working for me, so I'll continue my meandering ways and I'll continue maintaining a balance to enjoy my work and enjoy my life.

***   ***   ***

Thanks again to all those visiting from August Moon! There is still time to sign up and get your prompts delivered to your inbox and you are welcome to share your musings publicly or to write on them in your journal - its your choice!

* - The reasons I've often thought of leaving my sewing skills behind are humorously pointed out in this blog post I recently discovered and point #1 relates to what I covered in my blog post here today regarding alterations and WHY they don't make my heart sing! ;)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Coming Out of the Closet and Other August Moon Prompts...

Today I am tackling more writing prompts from Kat McNally's August Moon writing series and I am excited about the first one today:

COME OUT OF THE CLOSET

This prompt is asking us to delve into our closets and get curious about the personalities we find in them and I couldn't be more excited about writing on this prompt!

In the email I received from Kat, she asks the question:

"What's hiding in your closet?"

Well, as a book lover, it shouldn't surprise you to learn that I have BOOKS in my closet...


But they are not just any books - they are books about STYLE. They are books about how to wear clothing that suits your figure. There are books on how to use accessories and books on how to look for fabulous second-hand clothing, whether true vintage or just great clothes for less at your local thrift shop, something I've done all my life...

Individual style is something I've aimed for all my life, and costumes are something I've always had an affinity for, so many items in my closet have a hint of costume, or Fashion History, about them.

I was never one for trends, though I kept my eye on what was happening, but I've always been drawn to clothing with a history, whether it was vintage or second-hand clothing, and with my love for vintage things I began to accrue a collection of wonderful vintage hats, with a few contemporary ones, followed by a love of whimsical handbags, which turned into a collection of its own!

Now, I have written about my background in Fashion Design and Pattern Drafting here before but what you don't know is that I really studied pattern drafting so I could make myself better fitting garments and costumes!

I also had problems with ready-to-wear due to my figure being a small height frame with larger than usual breasts. Due to this problem, I began to find advice for how to dress for my figure to enhance it, since wearing billowing large tops only made me look pregnant! This is where my collection of books on STYLE and FASHION began to form.

With the advice from my style books and my skills in design and patterns, I've crafted a fun wardrobe for myself that makes me happy to look at as well as wear...and what I tend to wear are lots of SKIRTS!

I don't wear pants or shorts very often, and I save jeans for cooler weather, preferring to wear boots with my skirts in cold weather.

I have many t-shirts for my skirts since they stretch over my larger than usual breasts - button-up tops just don't look good on me and the buttons always gap.

I wear flats most of the time, but have a few heels for holiday 'dress-up'!

I love dresses, but it's hard to find ones that fit well, so lately I've been making dresses using recycled t-shirts and I've been having a lot of fun making them!

These days, I do lean toward classic silhouettes, without a lot of frippery, but spice up the outfits by using colors and textures in my fabrication. If I find myself wearing a 'traditional silhouette' outfit, then I add visual interest with my accessories of scarves, jewelry, hats or handbags...or a combination of all of the above!

And I check in at two favorite blogs to get "outfit inspiration" regularly:

The Sartorialist always inspires me with how others use clothing as a means of creative expression

Advanced Style is ALWAYS inspiring me with how the older generation still takes the time to 'dress-up'...and it gives me hope that I will still look fabulously stylish as I get older!!

Looking into my closet I see color, texture, pattern and a touch of whimsy, never forgetting that one should always have fun getting dressed to face the day, whatever comes!

Lately though, since I spend most of my time doing work at home, I don't have the opportunities to 'dress-up' and it saddens me. I spoke about this with a dear friend from my days of costume work and she reminded me of the fun it is to get dressed. I even spoke about this with my life coach Pete and he also reminded me that its okay to get 'dressed-up' JUST FOR ME, even if no one else see it.

So that is something I am planning to do more of in the weeks to come, or at least to figure out a fun and colorful 'uniform' to wear while working at home, which leads me to the next prompt...


PERFECT WORK

The next prompt from Kat is this:
"what would your perfect work day be like? the work itself does not need to be clear...it could be your craft, hobby, the way you tend to family..."

I've come across variations on envisioning the "ideal day" for work or life. I often have a hard time writing these things out because I have many variations on what would make an 'ideal' work day, but I can put my finger on a few key elements of what an ideal work day would look like for me:
  • Hosting a workshop with enthusiastic students who are eager to learn creative techniques
  • Creating some unique and art-full books that will be bought by excited customers
  • Having several sewing students I can pass along all my sewing knowledge to
  • Having a sewing project that is fun for me to work on and makes the client happy when completed
  • Touching base with blog buddies near and far
  • A delicious lunch in the company of creative friends
  • A quiet afternoon reading in my comfy chair and having a little nap!
  • An evening spent with my dear boyfriend whether having dinner at home or at a favorite restaurant
Looking at this list, I can see that an ideal work day involves both time spent with people and time spent doing work in solitude. It also involves helping others with creativity by teaching them or making something for them.

I definitely know an ideal day means not having to drive in traffic!! ;)

Reading this list makes me feel happy and excited, which leads me to the next prompt...


ON FIRE

The actual August Moon prompt is this:
"what are the signs that you are on fire? Erm, not literally! What I mean to say is how does it feel in your body when something gets you going?"

Let me share something that happened yesterday:

I decided I would spend some time playing with my rubber stamps to make some decorative envelopes for mailing things. I began to get excited as I was choosing the stamps and the colors of ink I would use. I had a fun animated film playing in the background that has fun, energetic music in the soundtrack. Playing with the rubber stamps while having energetic music on made me FEEL LIKE DANCING!

With other activities like sewing or making books, I do not have that dancing feeling, but that is because its hard to dance and sew or glue covers at the same time!

But with all my creative activities, I can definitely say that the predominant feeling is one of FOCUS and INTENT...

...and with the focus and intent comes ACCOMPLISHMENT...

...and the accomplishment achieved always makes me feel happy...

...and PROUD.

***   ***   ***

Many thanks to the participants of August Moon for leaving such lovely and encouraging comments on my INTENTION post! I'm enjoying reading what others have been writing so far and you can too by checking in at Kat's blog to see who's linked their contributions. You can also join the fun and receive the prompts in your email by signing up HERE. You can write publicly or privately, it's your choice!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It's Time for August Moon 2014

It's that time of year - time for the August Moon...

Which means it's time for daily writing prompts hosted by Kat McNally from "I Saw You Dancing" and the prompts will be just as juicy as last year...

And I will be writing a day behind, like last year, due to the time zones between Australia and America!

Which means I will likely be writing about the daily prompts in groupings, like I'm about to do today...be sure to grab a favorite cuppa because this is a LONG post!

***   ***   ***

This year, the writing prompts are being delivered straight to my email, instead of checking in at "I Saw You Dancing" and what I'm enjoying about it this year is that the emails have a little more detail to help me dive in/dig deep into the prompts as they arrive. The first three prompts I've been given so far are:

INTENTION
RIGHT NOW
LOVE

Lets see what I will do with these prompts...

INTENTION
"share what you want to explore over the next two weeks. In particular, consider the crossroads at which you find yourself, in any aspect of your life"

Let me start with the crossroads:

I am depressed...
  • Depressed about my lack of income, despite my efforts at making a creative career take form
  • Depressed that my workshop offerings at my local community college adult education department have yet to yield a single student and the workshops are cancelled before they even begin
  • Depressed about my lack of a functional studio space
  • Depressed that my lack of a functional studio space means I lack a teaching space too
  • Depressed about getting rid of/giving away so many of my own belongings when I moved to a new home at the beginning of the year
  • Depressed about living in a space that, while MUCH nicer than my old digs, has very little of 'me' to feel at home in
  • Depressed about people on the fringe of my life whose nasty, self-absorbed behavior nags in my memory so much it makes me angry
  • Depressed that these 'fringe-dwellers' will remain in my life due to 'family ties', whether my own or someone else's...

I am depressed...but I've been here before and I know the drill...

Some of these issues have been tucked away and some of these issues I manage to ignore until certain times of the year come around, but lately, many of these issues nag at me so much that it drives me miserable and I sense it is blocking me from financial abundance.

Now, having been at this crossroads before means I have tools to work around these issues, but I also have more tools than before to attempt to work THROUGH these issues...

And yet...
  • And yet, these tools are not exactly providing the strength and fortitude I need to move forward in my life, hence, my overwhelming feeling of being BLOCKED
  • And yet, I can't help but think of how long I have managed to keep pushing through it all and functioning enough to earn a living - until now...
  • And yet, I can't help the nagging feeling that maybe this IS my karma, that I will ALWAYS be surrounded by nasty self-absorbed people, and that FINANCIAL ABUNDANCE is not for me, not in this lifetime
This is the crossroads I find myself at - in need of yet more change in my life, but feeling too overwhelmed to tackle it alone and alone it must be because no one else can do this work for me.

I would love for my intention to be this:

To rid myself of my angry feelings towards those who have been nasty and selfish to me so I can move forward in my life

But I think the best intention I can manage is this:

My intention is to continue with my creativity AND to search the company of other creative souls, because I know that those who serve their creative impulses are people of kindness, generosity and humor, things I need in my life right now since I'm having trouble remembering how to treat MYSELF with kindness, generosity and laughter


RIGHT NOW
"what is it that you do now? Tell us what fills your weeks, days and hours"

My daily schedule is a troubled one these days. Once upon a time, I was able to work WITH Time, but these days, Time eludes me and Time is a tricky devil that greets me every morning.

Kat made a wonderful suggestion in her daily email to 'spend five minutes each Friday morning making a list of everything I’d done during the week" as a way to more easily 'locate the themes that are emerging from my list' and discover 'what is missing'.

I have yet to make the list since this prompt came at me on a Sunday, but I will definitely put this into action at the end of this week to see what discoveries I make. In the meantime, I do know a few things that find regular time in my weekday and here they are:
  • A morning walk most days (despite an Achilles injury I sustained a few months ago)
  • Watering the plants in the Garden Patio after the morning walk so they get water before the day gets hot
  • Breakfast in my 'reading nook' reading books from the library and I have a few in rotation!
  • Sewing work or some creative work making books or mail art postcards
  • Dealing with the dishes and loading the dishwasher - this is the first time I've lived in a place that has one of these, so it's pretty new to me!
  • Some house cleaning, vacuuming or laundry
  • Late afternoon lunch after whatever work/house cleaning I've been doing, which is always accompanied by a new or favorite movie
  • Evening shower before my dear boyfriend arrives home from work - my transition from day into evening
  • Watching favorite shows on Comedy Central with my dear boyfriend before going to sleep - good laughs help me end my day on a positive note!
The weekends are rather haphazard but always spent with my dear boyfriend and I can count on one or all of these to take place:
  • Breakfast out at least once during the weekend
  • Dinner out at least once during the weekend
  • A trip to a garden shop
  • Antique shops or flea markets
  • A fun movie
  • Home cooked dinner made by my dear boyfriend every Sunday night
Just looking at these lists, I think I see some patterns emerging...I'll ponder this and come back to it!


LOVE
"What do you love? Look at your CD or vinyl collection, bookshelves, magazine subscriptions, Netflix choices, your DVD library, the shows you tend to record...What sorts of themes can you detect? What do you tend to be drawn to?"

This line of questioning is pretty easy to answer...

MUSIC: REM, Joni Mitchell, Beatles; Alternative Latin, Nortec Collective; Classical with an emphasis on classical guitar and featuring favorite composers Mozart and Leos Janacek; favorite movie soundtracks like "Amelie", "Chocolat", "Midnight In Paris" (all with a French theme, I'm realizing!) but above all else, JAZZ...

BOOKS: many, many craft books, with a heavy lean toward Book Arts - making books, whether traditional or art-full/altered, art journal books for healing or celebrating vintage goods, lots of knitting books and a few mail art books; I also have biographies, books on the African American experience, some cookbooks that focus on the art of Tea and lately books borrowed from the library are books on French culture or social/cultural studies such as "Talk Like TED", but lately, I've been collecting books on flowers and botanical prints...

MOVIES: in my personal collection of DVDS, there is a heavy lean toward Costume Dramas, some romantic comedies and movie musicals and there are Pixar animated films bought by my dear boyfriend knowing how much I like them; in my Netflix queue are foreign films (again, mostly French!), more costume dramas, more romantic comedies, some animation and an old favorite tv show (I'm currently going through 'Frasier'!)


COLLECTIONS: this is hard since many of my collections are still packed away but one of them comes to mind - my collection of carved wood blocks for printing fabrics...

ARTWORK: again, difficult to answer since I have yet to hang a single thing in the new place, but most of the art I hung in my old place were life drawings made by me; a print of a young 'Dickensian' girl surrounded by books and French words; photos of peonies or artful calendars with colorful artwork by artists I admire...

'Say someone found all of this evidence many years after you’d gone: what conclusions would they draw about the things/ideas/people you loved?'

Now THAT is an interesting question and I'd say a tricky one to answer but I think the conclusions to be made by what I love to read, listen to or watch could be this:

She was a woman who was interested in the past and the present, yet was excited about what lay ahead in the future. A woman who surrounded herself with color, beautiful music, and beautiful objects. A woman who loved to learn about the world around her and to learn about the people in that world. A woman who loved to exercise her brain by reading, knitting or by creating artwork. She was a woman who was meant to live in PARIS!! ;)

 ***   ***   ***

A warm thanks for stopping by and reading through my entire blog post! I hope you enjoyed my musings today. If you are interested in joining the fun, stop by Kat's blog to sign up for the writing prompts for August Moon. You are welcome to participate in any way you wish, whether by writing publicly or just in your personal journal!

Be sure to stay tuned for more August Moon writing in the days to come!