Opening to Spontaneity

I’ve become too fond of the regular and the familiar lately, I think. I find myself hoping for fun surprises throughout the day, but the real question is, am I willing to allow spontaneity into my life?

I’ve always been open to change; it’s the reason why the rooms in my house change labels frequently. My dining room has been my kitchen in the past. My kitchen has been my sitting room. The current sitting room used to be the dining room. Do you remember Tom Hanks’ decorator client in Sleepless in Seattle? The contractors and Hanks are standing around joking about how she’d like them to pick up the house and flip it around.

I tend to see that as doable.

But still, those changes were ones I controlled. And that’s the key here. Spontaneity means giving up that control, that firm, solid grip on the steering wheel of life. Being open to spontaneity requires me to relax that grip, to embrace the beauty of uncertainty.

It’s coming to me, bit by bit. Because when I think of a life filled with wonderful, spontaneous moments, I can’t help but smile. That’s what I want. The element of fun surprises, a life of spontaneous joy.

And it starts with allowing.

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Stillness, Friendship, and more Stillness

It’s only 1 in the afternoon but my day has already been so incredible. Lately I’ve started practicing stillness, and I find I’m doing it mainly because I enjoy the feeling so much – it takes me a while, maybe five minutes or so, but then it comes, that sense of expansion that takes me deep within. And it really is so beautiful.

This morning I signed into Facebook, something which I don’t do very often – and I discovered my friend Helena online! It was so much fun chatting with her. We go back a long long way, and now it feels like she’s not far away at all, even though physically she’s half the world away. Her evenings are my mornings. Thank goodness she’s a night owl!

I intend to make room for more stillness tonight … and so my practice goes. Meditation has always been challenging for me, but stillness is not. I’m not sure why, except that maybe it just comes down to semantics for me. Maybe I have a lot of “stuff” tied up with the notion of meditation, stuff that doesn’t come up in stillness, because I know the stillness is always there, I haven’t lost it, I always have it. It’s just a matter of being aware of it.

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Showing Up

What perfect timing.  My friend Beth sent me a link to this wonderful Youtube video featuring Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, in which she gives her take on creativity. The idea of this conversation between me and this something wondrous outside of myself, that sense of connection, is absolutely wonderful.

And what I love the most? I just have to show up – show up in front of my writing software, show up with pen in hand, pad on lap, show up, show up – that’s my job, and then it’s a matter of trust and openness.

I love it.

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My Little Red Book Winners!

Here are the winners for of the My Little Red Book giveaway! I went to Random.org and drew five numbers. The winners are the five people whose comment numbers matches these five random numbers:

Mindy (Comment #5)
Morna Crites-Moore (Comment #41)
Dolly (Comment #29)
nfmgirl (Comment #86)
Chelsea (Comment #77)

I have emailed all the winners, and once I get everyone’s snail mail addresses, I will forward the addresses to Hachette Books. Hachette Books will then send out copies of My Little Red Book.

Thank you everyone for participating – it’s been fun getting to know everyone better!

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Today’s Inspiration: Zendalas, ZenTangles and Mandalas

I have this thing about mandalas, and I’ve always been fascinated by ZenTangles, so it was a real delight to come across this video today:

 

 

Perfect inspiration. And I noticed she uses two types of pens – fine line and thick line.

I definitely want to give this a try.

Found via Semicolon.

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Stepping into Prewriting with Collage

I took that step today, finally! After thinking about it and thinking about it, I finally  just went and gathered together a pile of older magazines and sat down with them at the kitchen table. Dylan kept me company – he cut shapes from paper to glue into a collage, while I went through a few of the magazines.

It felt a bit funny at first. The story idea that I decided to start with is one for which I know the ending (kind of rare for me, that). And I hadn’t been intending to start my prewriting with collage experiment with this story, either – but the other night, I was lying in bed and all of a sudden the entire first scene started playing out in my mind.

It’s a scene that I’ve actually written out before, but I never liked it. I felt I didn’t know my characters well enough, so everything was kind of rickety and wooden.

But that night, I got to know my protagonist a lot better. And that’s when it occurred to me that she would be an ideal way to start experimenting with prewriting with collage.

One thing I’d already decided I would do was use the collage method to help me get to know my characters better. I have tried almost every method of developing a character out there – creating character profiles, interviewing my characters, writing their journals, doing stream of consciousness writing about their lives – and nothing has really ever worked for me. Since I find writing to be so much easier when I really know my characters, I usually end up writing some wooden first chapters until the characters start coming alive for me.

So I thought it would be perfect to use the prewriting with collage method to develop my characters! And I’ve decided to couple it with the cool lapbooking technique that I learned last year when I was looking at homeschooling resources. (Here’s a great YouTube video showing a trains lapbook, to give you an idea of what can be done, if you haven’t come across lapbooking before).

A file folder for each character, and then a large collage for the entire novel – that’s my plan, anyway.

When I started tearing out the pictures, images and words that called to me, I was trying at first to focus on my main character. But after a while, I’d find images that suited other characters, or the novel as a whole. So in the end, I decided to just tear out anything that felt “right” for the book. What I’ll do is collect a large pile of images and words and colours, and then I’ll start sorting and creating the individual folders as well as the large collage.

And the most important thing of all – I started! And it’s as fun as I thought it would be.

If anyone is interested in doing prewriting with collage, I’d love to hear about your progress!

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Taking Risks

One of the things that really resonated with me as I’ve been visiting various Next Chapter book club posts is this: risk-taking, from the heart.

In 12 Secrets of Highly-Creative Women, much of the risk-taking that’s talked about is based on the calculated risk. The one that you plan out with your head – hopefully in accord with your heart.

But the risks I’ve been thinking about lately are all very much heart-based. Intuitive leaps into the worlds of my desires.

Today I woke up, and I realized, I’m in prep mode.

Not quite there yet, not quite ready to make that intuitive leap, the one that scares me, the one that will continue to scare me, but when it’s time, I’ll know. I’ll know because I will have this feeling of trust.

Trust that the ground won’t fall away. Trust that I’m in for a solid, grounded landing. Trust that all that I do, will always be what’s right for me.

And at the root of this trust: faith.

I feel that faith within me – it’s just that it’s not quite strong enough yet. But today, I decided to be more open to that faith, to nurture it, to help it grow.

And when intuition meets faith … there is the expectation of great, beautiful, wonderful things.

For now? I’m in alignment with this prep phase. And that’s really what matters.

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Encouragement, One Brave Step, and Inspiration

nextchapter12whiteThis week’s Next Chapter topic comes from Chapter 3 of the 12 Secrets of Highly-Creative Women: Following your Fascinations. Jamie asks us to share what helps us find the courage to take the risks necessary to make our dreams come true, and then challenges us to take one brave step towards our dreams.

Encouragement

I believe that in every moment, whether or not I’m aware of it, I am always choosing my identity, and my world is always a reflection of this choice. And when I find myself mired in doubt or floundering in worry, what works best for me is to remember that, as the Field Center puts it, there is no time off from my consciousness. These reactions come about because I’ve lost sight of who I want to be; I am out of alignment with the me that I truly am. And so it’s a matter of coming back into alignment.

Easy to say, but sometimes very challenging to do! So here’s what I turn to when I find myself seeking re-alignment:

Imagination. I make the time and take the moment to embrace my imagination, and allow myself to feel everything I feel as the identity I’m choosing. This goes beyond mere visualization; I never know what might come to me, but I open myself up to the vision. I need to have the willingness to do this, but when I do, it can be magical.

Friends. I’m fortunate to have two different groups of very special women friends who are always there for me, who listen without judgment and offer tremendous support for the me that I want to be. They inspire me with their lives, and who they are, and their words of wisdom and support often lift me right out of doubt into the magic of flow.

Play. This can be writing, reading, taking out some of my art supplies and just having fun with everything. It can be watching a movie, listening to music, plotting out a story. It can mean taking a walk, going shopping, going online in search of inspiration. And the key is to have fun; I never get into that wonderful feeling of play if I haven’t first let go of the idea of results. Often it’s that feeling of “where will this lead me?” that leads me out of the dreariness of fear, doubt and worry.

Sleep. My greatest challenges seem to arise when I’m tired, exhausted, fatigued – I feel like I can’t access the energy to do anything, to be anything, to feel anything. Problems appear where there were none before, and trite things magnify, gain in size and loom over me, filling me with emotions I don’t want. And when that happens, sleep is the revitalizing ingredient. My body is telling me to take it easy, to rest, and when I honour this intuition, and rest, the energy inevitably comes back.

These are the things I reach for most often when I find myself out of alignment with who I want to be. They work – often it’s just a matter of remembering that each of these things are there to help me out.

One Brave Step

This week, I intend to (finally!) start prewriting with collage – it’s something I wrote about a few weeks ago, and I have this very strong feeling that it’s something I’m meant to be doing, that it will open up my intuition in a way I’ve been desiring for a long time. I felt so motivated and excited when I discovered this – and then found myself stuck in a week filled with deadlines.

The deadlines, I know, were simply a reflection of the fear I was feeling, that smaller me that I was being, the one who was unable to reach out and embrace the creativity that leads to the fulfillment of my dreams.

But I have the supplies. I have the time. And I have the encouragement of being part of this group of creative women bloggers, and truly, as I visit each one of you, I feel your energy and it is such an amazing, wonderful feeling. So this week, let this be my one brave step – plunging into the joy of prewriting with collage.

On Honouring My Inspirations

I didn’t end up writing a post last week for Chapter 2’s look at honouring our inspirations – I thought about it a lot, though, and I was able to get around to reading a few of the groups’ posts. So I wanted to finish up this post with my thoughts on what inspires me.

For a long time, I stifled my femininity. I found myself in a world where being a woman wasn’t much admired, and I fought for survival by pushing away all the parts of me that were feminine. And it isn’t such a surprise for me to look back and see that my creativity faded during this period of my life.

Eleven years ago, I left that life, and since then I’ve been on a journey of rediscovery. Slowly, I began to become open to the feminine within me, and I’m happy to say that I have reclaimed that part of me now. It’s been an interesting journey, especially since it wasn’t something I clearly understood at the time.

And so today, I honour the beauty and the inspiration of the feminine.

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My Little Red Book Giveaway!

owohbadgeroundz-1

Update: The giveaway has now ended and comments on this post are now closed. Winners of this giveaway have been announced here. Thank you everyone for participating!

Yesterday I was surfing around, and I came across One World – One Heart 2009, a wonderful site whose aim is to foster connections among bloggers in the art and creativity world:

The common denominator in blogging is that we all have stories to tell….be it through visual means or life stories or the day-to-day or art work or handwork of varying kinds or poetry and journaling.  We can be inspired or inspire others by finding a blog and taking the time to read/see someone’s story. Often times a spark happens….this palpable spark of recognition through kindred understanding and shared passions in life. It is in those times when we take a moment to comment and comment again…….when those comments are reciprocated a discovery is made that we share commonalities which connect us sight unseen.

I read this and fell in love with the idea, and after surfing through the list of blogs on the site, I really wanted to join in. And then, synchronicity – if you’ve been reading Belle Enchanted, you know how much I adore synchronicities! Hachette Book Group asked if I’d be interested in hosting a giveaway of a wonderful book that will be released in February! The timing could not be more perfect. I have a review copy of this book – My Little Red Book, by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff – and looking through it, I know it’s a book that many, many of you will love.

I have FIVE copies of the book to give away, so there will be five winners!

littleredbook Before I get to the rules, here’s a synopsis of My Little Red Book:

MY LITTLE RED BOOK is an anthology of stories about first periods, collected from women of all ages from around the world. The accounts range from light-hearted (the editor got hers while water skiing in a yellow bathing suit) to heart-stopping (a first period discovered just as one girl was about to be strip-searched by the Nazis). The contributors include well-known women writers (Meg Cabot, Erica Jong, Gloria Steinem, Cecily von Ziegesar), alongside today’s teens. And while the authors differ in race, faith, or cultural background, their stories share a common bond: they are all accessible, deeply honest, and highly informative.

Doesn’t this sound like such a wonderful book? The stories in here are at times poignant and at times humorous. Some of my favorite authors have contributed (like Meg Cabot, Michelle Jaffe, Gloria Steinem) but the stories are written not just by well-known authors, but by women from all walks of life, young and old, from around the world. There are artists, students, business people – a long list of women sharing their memories.

The Rules:

1. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post (just scroll down to the comment box at the bottom of this page), and in keeping with the theme of One World One Heart, and I’d love to know one unique thing about you! And make sure you enter a valid email address so that I can contact you in the event you win.

2. For extra entries: Help me spread the word about this giveaway! You will receive an extra entry if you blog about the giveaway with a link back to this post. Not a blogger? Not to worry – post about it at Facebook or Twitter with a link back to this post. You must, however, come back here and leave me a separate comment with a link to your blog post, Facebook comment or Twitter tweet. You can receive up to three extra entries, but you must leave a separate comment for each one, as I will be doing the draw using Random.org and the winners will be based on their comment numbers (note: you can only win once, however – the prizes must go to five different winners.)

3. Giveaway End Date: All comments must be received by February 12, 2009, at 5:59 pm EST. Winners will be announced on the evening of February 12, 2009.

4. Eligibility: This giveaway is open only to US and Canada residents – no PO boxes, please. Quebec residents are excluded, and you must be 18 years of age or older at the time of your entry.

I am so sorry this giveaway can’t be global, but unfortunately, Hachette Group can only ship the books within the US and Canada. And I apologize for excluding Quebec residents, too, but Quebec has very strict regulations about contests and giveaways.

5. Prizes: Five winners will each receive one copy of My Little Red Book. Value of each prize: $14.99 US/$16.99 Canada.

6. Prize delivery: Hachette Group will ship the books directly to the winners. If you win, I will collect your mailing address to give to Hachette Group.

So please, fill out a comment – I look forward to meeting you all! Good luck, everyone!

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What Are Your Beliefs About Time?

I’m in the middle of an experiment with time – an experiment with my time.

You see, two days ago, I literally looked up (at my monitor, that is, which was displaying my Basecamp calendar, where I keep track of my deadlines) and realized I was going to be knee deep in work for the next five to six days.

Not good. How had I let the time slip by me like that?

And that’s when I started thinking about my beliefs about time.

The Field Center teaches us that time is just a construct of reality. It is what we believe it to be. Both past and future are as flexible and malleable as the present.

It is in the present that our power resides. There is, after all, only the now.

I began thinking about what I believed about time. And when I fished each belief out and took a good look at it, I knew they were beliefs I definitely did not want to hang onto.

I could see them glistening in front of me. There is never enough time. Time is too precious to waste. Time slips away so quickly. If I had the time, I would be able to _________ .

And so of course, my days are generally crazy-busy. I never seem to have enough time. The days pass by in the blink of an eye, and before I know it, I’m deep in the middle of the next season, wondering, where did the time go? And when I have a moment of time, I agonize over how I should spend it. Time was too precious to waste.

I knew, after all, that if I only had the time, I would be able to accomplish so much more.

An interesting thing happened while I was thinking about everything that I believed about time. Suddenly, I began remember how I felt about time when I was a child; back then, time stretched out, gleaming, in front of me, filled with so much possibility and potential.

Every day when I got home from school, I had time to read, to write, to watch TV, to play.

On Fridays,an entire weekend stretched out in front of me! What bliss!

Saturday afternoons we’d all head over to the library for books and then dinner, maybe at Mr. Mike’s Steakhouse, which I loved, maybe just a hotdog, which I was okay with, as long as I could get a pizza dog. Saturday morning and Saturday evening, however, were all mine. The mornings would be spent in anticipation of the library, and the new books I’d be getting; the evenings would be devoted to reading, dreaming and writing.

Sunday mornings we’d have dim sum with my father’s friends and their families, all seated at one large table. I’d be allowed to take a book with me, and while the other kids fooled around, I’d read while carts filled with freshly steamed shrimp dumplings, glistening white folds of rice noodles and savory and garlicky ribs glided by our table.

The rest of Sunday was all mine. I usually spent it dreaming, reading, writing.

And then there was the thrill of the summer holidays. An entire two months of time, to do with as I wished.

Two days ago, those feelings about time flowed back to me; I could feel the joy and the glee that I felt about time. I could feel how time is always so abundant.

When did my beliefs change? The changes were infinitesimal when I was in high school; I barely noticed. In university, it felt like I had more time than in high school; my days were far less structured, and I could study when I wanted to, as long as the studying got done before tests and exams. I could work on assignments when I wanted to, as long as the work got done by the due date.

Time began changing when I started working full-time. My commute was long, and suddenly, time was being wasted. My days were not my own; I had to work to the rhythm of someone else’s schedule. And when I had a baby, time became even more compressed. It wasn’t simply time anymore. It was time pressure. Very little time, so much to do.

Does becoming an adult mean you have to change your beliefs about time? I decided, no, it didn’t. I only changed my beliefs because that’s what everyone else did. I’d heard so much about the time dilemma. It had to be true. And so it was.

So two days ago, I decided to play a little experiment. I was facing five deadlines in six days; one deadline is actually an equivalent amount of work to two projects, so it was more like six deadlines in six days. Certainly not a good situation, “time-wise”, based on what I believed about time.

So I decided to choose to believe differently. That first morning, rather than rushing to my computer to start working, I sat in the living room with my cup of coffee, and called up those long-ago feelings about time that I had as a child. I remembered the thrill of having so much time, the bliss of an abundance of time.

I let myself rest in those feelings. Time IS abundant. I do have the time to get things done. I have the time to play. Time passes slowly and deliciously.

The results?

Well, I haven’t done anything creative the past two days, but my deadlines are being met, easily and effortlessly. I am half an hour away from finishing up the one deadline that’s equivalent to two assignments.

Much of my work is done on the computer. It requires a certain amount of thinking. A while ago, I experimented with listening to audiobooks while I was working. Back then, it didn’t work. I couldn’t do the two things at once. Invariably, I’d end up typing the words I heard, rather than what I was reading and thinking.

Yesterday, I discovered that this has changed. I’m able to listen to non-fiction audiobooks while I work. I started with the Field Center course, moved onto this wonderful lecture on consciousness and creativity by David Lynch, then finished up my night with Bruce Lipton’s lecture on the New Biology (if you’ve never watched this video I highly recommend it – here is part 1 at Google Video and here is part 2). When I start work today, I’m going to be listening to Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe. I don’t know yet if I can listen to fiction and work at the same time, but for now, I’m getting to lots of non-fiction that I hadn’t had the time to get to before.

I’m getting my work done, and doing something else that’s enjoyable at the same time. If you’d asked me last week if I could do this, I would have said, sadly, “Not a chance, unfortunately”. Today, it feels like time has doubled for me. I’m getting my work done, and I’m listening to a book that I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time.

And I even have the time to write this post! Update: Thanks for all your wonderful comments. I finished my last deadline a day ahead of schedule! And now the whole rest of the week stretches out in front of me, filled with lots and lots of time!

What are your beliefs about time? What would you do with your time if you discovered that time was an abundant and delicious resource?

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