Life

The Type of World We Live In

“The way we choose to see the world creates the world we see.” – Barry Neil Kaufman

Long before I learned about the law of attraction, I understood that the world becomes what you expect it to be.

My understanding began when I was working as a journalist in the breaking news and police beats. I spent my days covering crime, accidents, natural disasters, and all around bad news. After less than a year in this position, I woke up each morning believing the world was a pretty terrible place.

In hindsight, it’s not surprising. I was immersed in the pain and suffering happening around me. It was all darkness. I questioned the point of it all. Did I really want to be in a world like this?

Something had to change and quickly. I could see the dark road I was heading down. So, I decided to challenge myself: find three good stories for every one bad that I had to cover. It was tough at first, but before long I was reminded of the brightness filling this world.

Recently, I’ve found myself checking in on the daily news cycle more than usual. It doesn’t take long before the undercurrent of the negative news ocean begins to drag you down. There’s some heavy stuff happening in the world…

But there’s a whole lot of amazing happening too.

It’s time to focus on the AMAZING with the very first installment of…

[insert drumroll here]

The Type World We Live In!

In this series, I will answer the question “What type of world do we live in?”

Let’s get started!

We live in the type of world where our furriest companions show us, through their example, that the power of love brings us all together… even when it seems we have nothing in common.

Just one example of why dog is GOD spelled backward. 💖

Creativity

The One Where Ivy Pretends To Be a Poet

“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.”
— Carl Sandburg

I often look for quotes to use as inspiration, especially when I’m getting into my writing space. The quote above, by American poet Carl Sandburg, instantly caught my attention.

I couldn’t wait to share it. But as I typed the words, I started to question if it was smart to quote a real poet in a blog post where I’m pretending to be one.

But the words were too hauntingly beautiful to not share.

That’s the power of good poetry, isn’t it?

As you can probably guess from today’s title, I attempted to write a poem for one of my creative practices. It’s definitely not a Carl Sandburg quality poem, so turn down the expectations a lot.

Before I share the poem, how about an update? This will put a little space between the mastery of words shared above and my juvenile attempt below.

I’m happy to report that I’m 10 days into my creativity challenge, and I have not missed a single day. Carving out time to be creative is getting easier. I’m starting to look forward to this time. I’m also starting to see increased creative flow during my 9-to-5 job.

Today’s attempt at poetry… please enjoy.

Butterfly

Do you know the beauty that we see
when you spread your wings and fly from the tree?
The colors you wear, they sparkle and gleam,
But did you notice when you woke from your chrysalis dream?

From the mess and muck, you broke through and now live,
A new version of you to the world you now give.

Did you know you’d fly when you were stuck in the ooze,
Or did you think this is it, I surrender, I lose.
When you woke and saw walls, did you want to give in,
Or was there just enough light to know how to begin?

How long did it take to push and breakthrough,
and finally realize you’re a new version of you?

Can you see all the elegance, the style, and the grace
that now lives because of the mess you embraced?
The power, the triumph, the story you tell
is one of true beauty arising from hell.

You shattered, broke down, became a puddle of goo,
then rose and made your whole life brand new.

What a lesson you teach to all those who will hear,
even the darkest moment is nothing to fear.
For without the mess, your wings wouldn’t unwind,
so you could be you and learn to fly high.

Creativity

Channeled Writing, Uke Lessons, and Expansion

“The qualities of creativity and genius are within you, awaiting your decision to match up with the power of intention.”

Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote this in his book “The Power of Intention.” I found this quote while looking for something to create on the first day of my 90-Day Creativity Challenge. As a long-time student of Dr. Dyer’s, I instantly looked for the source of this quote and then purchased the audiobook.

Dr. Dyer always seems to show up unprompted when I’m on the verge of a breakthrough. So it’s not surprising that this book sums up my deepest desire for this challenge  to open the floodgates and feel, for the first time in my adult life, fully connected to the energy of creativity.

I’ve spent these last few days exploring this idea presented by Dr. Dyer. I started with a guided Japa meditation that focused on the idea of expanding the mind about what’s possible (spoiler: literally anything you want).

This encouraged me to further tune into this idea during a channeled writing session, also commonly known as automatic writing.

Automatic/Channeled Writing is a journaling practice where you focus on a topic, idea, energy, your higher self, etc., and write what comes through. No judgment, just write. It’s a practice I learned from Sara Landon last year. It’s been a very grounding and inspirational practice that I don’t do nearly enough.

After the push from Dr. Dyer, I decided to tune into the energy of creativity. I was really taken back by the message that came through:

Jump, dive, indulge. Soak in the energy that is surrounding you. Sink further, for the enjoyment you seek is far below the surface, where there are no rules or expectations. Dive deep with free form exploration. Paint with no sketch. Dance with no reason. Make up your own music. Just do. Be the reason, the practice. Let the energy flow fully and allow yourself to be surprised. You don’t need to know how. Just do. You’ll learn that you already knew the way, the method, the purpose, the technique.

When the surprises start to reveal themselves, you’ll plunge deeper into being, deeper into intuition, and deeper into your very soul. Create without looking, start with no plan. The plan will be revealed as you take motion.

As with every automatic writing session, I was shook with the words on the page. To be honest, I’m still wrapping my head around it all.

Today, I decided to get out of my head and dive into a learning space as I picked up my ukulele for the first time in months. I played a little freestyle and then felt called to take part in a Masterclass session with Jake Shimabukuro, one of the world’s most phenomenal ukulele musicians.

Within an hour, my heart was dancing and I learned a few new things. Playing the ukulele always brings me to a place of pure joy. It’s a total win to now have some advanced techniques to build on as I get back in touch with this passion.

That’s about it for the challenge update. Five days down, 85 to go.

Creativity

Guardian Angel Pup (1/90)

For the first day of the challenge, I started with a fun memory of my guardian angel pup. I love you, my dear Rocket. Thank you for being my side, my dear Rocket, and reminding me to have more fun.

Today my creative practice was playing around on Canva. I made this image, created another of Miss Daisy (to be shared later) and designed some quote memes to share during the challenge. ❤️

(1/90)

Creativity

Challenge Accepted

Last year I gave myself a personal challenge 90 days of intentional creativity. The idea was to force myself to be creative, every day, for 90 days in an attempt to break through the creative road blocks I had built around myself.

I wanted something extreme. A challenge that would force me to step up and take control of my creative aspirations. I was only using my creative skills for others, never truly enjoying the process of being creative.

The result…

Yep… I blew it. After a week, I just stopped.

I’ve spent much of my free time in the months since then dissecting the challenge. What went wrong? What I could have done to prevent it all going wrong? You name it, I overthought it.

My biggest takeaway was that I had set myself up for failure by putting a lot of weight into the motivation that created the challenge. My “why” was strong enough to create the challenge, but not strong enough to push through the inevitable adversity that I would face.

After lots of self-reflection and consulting with my creative community, I’m ready to re-launch this challenge with the structure, definition, and truth that was needed the first time around.

STEP 1: Define the Challenge

The challenge is to spend 90 days being creative, just to be creative. The purpose of this challenge is to celebrate, engage, and approach creativity in intentional ways.

STEP 2: Rules/Guidelines*

  1. Spend at least 15 minutes a day being creative, even if it feels forced (which it will sometimes… and that’s okay!) Really commit for 15 minutes and be intentional. It’s only 15 minutes, you can do it.
  2. No judgment of the process or end results. Enjoying the daily creative practice is always the goal, but sometimes “pushing” may be required.  Just start, do, and don’t judge.
  3. The creative practice for the day is anything that intentionally engages creative energy including arts, crafts, music, writing, creative problem solving, cooking, baking, playing, photography, dancing, etc.
  4. It’s okay if the creative act leads no where. Creating something that can be shared is awesome, but this doesn’t have to be the goal every day. Just get creative. It’s only failure if you don’t try.
  5. Doodles count! The bar of the creative act needs to be low, because the purpose is not to create an award-winning piece of art. The purpose is to just be creative, period. No expectations. Just be creative.
  6. Try new things! There are 90 days in this challenge. That is a lot of opportunity to try out some new skills.
  7. If you don’t feel like being creative, then make something “ugly” on purpose. Channel any negative feelings into something creative. Use creativity as therapy.
  8. Use material on creativity as motivation. Find books, YouTube channels, blogs, etc., on creativity that inspire you.
  9. Rewards are important! Set small goals and reward the effort.
  10. Take on a few fun, bigger projects that may take a few days to complete. If you fail at them, who cares. No judgment. Slap some glitter on it, call it a beautiful mess, and blog about it.

If any of these guidelines aren’t working, then throw them out and replace them! This is supposed to be fun and creativity sometimes needs adjustments to work.

STEP 3: Share Expectations

The ultimate expectation is to show myself that I can do this, especially after failing the first attempt, but I also hope a few additional things come from this challenge…

I hope the floodgates of my creativity burst open. Creativity is a practice. I think intentionally committing to tapping into creative energy will cause the door I’ve felt has been blocked to break open. I want to feel my creative energy fully flowing and be able to tap into it in a moment’s notice.

I expect that creativity in all areas of my life will benefit from this challenge, including creative tasks for my 9-to-5 job and creative day-to-day problem solving.

I want my inner creative child to feel seen and heard. I’ve always been creative, and lately I’ve felt my inner child screaming at me to play with her. My hope is that at the end of this challenge, she’s proud of me.

I hope to have fun and learn a few new things. Hopefully, I’ll also discover some new skills that I excel at and enjoy.

STEP 4: Set a Start Date and Go!

The challenge begins February 1st. Let’s do this!

Creativity

It’s Only Failure When You Stop Trying

“It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.”
Zig Ziglar

If you’ve been following the blog, you’ve probably noticed my absence. Unlike the star of one of my favorite movies, I haven’t been using my absence to enjoy much-needed time off.

I’m okay… I just let “life” get in the way.

I write it as “life,” because our time is what we decide it will be. I’ve let my days be filled with work and have been burning the midnight oil for so long that my intention for the creativity challenge was put on the back burner.

But the best part about being the creator of your own life is that you can dust yourself off and start all over again.

 

Dale Carnegie once wrote, “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”

In the past few months, I have certainly felt both discouragement and failure over my creative journey. Discouragement that I couldn’t find the time to enjoy being creative, and failure knowing that the only way to “find” time is to create it.

It seems a little ironic, doesn’t it? Here are I was failing at my 90-day creativity challenge because I wasn’t creating the time to fit it into my schedule.

As the law of attraction shows us, focusing on my feelings of lacking in my schedule was simply creating more lack. I was inviting the busyness of life to overwhelm me.

 

I think when you “know better,” the lesson hits even harder. Cue the guilt trip. Cue the self-bullying. Cue the internal lecture.

Eventually… like an hour ago… I decided to work through the emotions, stop working on a weekend, and write about my experience on this blog.

Finally… a step in the right direction!

Now that I’m traveling in the right direction, it’s time to re-start the challenge with new insight and lessons under my belt. Cheers to a NEW BEGINNING!

Zen Sunrise
Creativity

Creative Help for Breaking Through

“Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”
Edward de Bono

These last two weeks have been a bit of a ying and yang in the area of creativity. At times, usually when I’m at work, I’ve felt the creative flow moving into my path. Beyond work hours, it’s been a struggle to get in the creative zone.

I mentioned this challenge to a dear friend and neighbor who offered a creative and unexpected solution to my block EMDR Therapy.

My neighbor, Eric, is a certified therapist. He’s shared his thoughts on EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) with me for a couple of years. Most recently I’ve read about Prince Harry sharing his experience with EMDR. Eric uses EMDR Therapy to help his patients heal trauma, overcome fear, and move past blocks to unlock their true potential. My son was one of his patients. EMDR helped him heal and overcome the extreme bullying that he was experiencing in school.

When he mentioned that he wanted to do an EMDR session with me to help me overcome my creative block, I jumped at the opportunity. I saw firsthand how much this helped my son, so I wanted to experience it for myself so I could gain a better understanding about it. During this challenge, I said I wanted to experiment. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to stand up to this goal.

Before I share some details, let me back up and tell you a little more about this type of therapy. According to pyscom.net, “EMDR therapy is a phased, focused approach to treating traumatic and other symptoms by reconnecting the client in a safe and measured way to the images, self-thoughts, emotions, and body sensations associated with the trauma, and allowing the natural healing powers of the brain to move toward adaptive resolution.”

I’ve never worked with a therapist prior to meeting with Eric for this EMDR session, so I really didn’t know what to expect. After having a conversation to help identify the root of the thoughts contributing to the block, we dove into the EMDR part of the session. Using a combination of sound, vibrations, eye movements, and visualization, Eric walked me back to an event in my past that we had identified as the sole contributor to my limiting beliefs.

We unpacked a lot during the session… a lot more than I expected.

He helped me identify not only what my limiting beliefs were, but also the reasons these limited beliefs had such a strong hold over me. Through the session, I learned how much trauma I was holding onto and was able to release it and begin healing. I also learned more about how trauma is stored in our subconscious. The event we identified was something I thought I had moved past, but I learned there’s a big difference between moving beyond trauma and healing trauma.

Eric described EMDR to me as “defragging the computer.” This is a really good description, because it felt like the frayed connections between the left and right sides of my brain were fixed and the hidden, temporary files (the ones that often slow down a computer) were removed.

I walked into the session not really knowing what to expect, but ready to feel more inspired. I left the session with a deeper understanding of myself and feeling a renewed sense of freedom. That relaxed, lighter feeling instantly led me to feel more creative.

In the days following the EMDR session, I continued to feel lighter and healed. I decided to do a follow-up session to help concrete the progress made, and all I can say is WOW. This follow-up session was filled with ah-has, confirmations, and feeling like I had mentally upped my game. I went into the days that followed with clarity and a closer connection to myself.

I don’t know if EMDR works for everyone, but I suspect it would help in some way. I was really blown away by the experience. As I start this next week of the challenge, let’s see what unfolds.

Creativity

Releasing Expectations

Author Elizabeth Gilbert once said, “Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing it craves is the process.”

This quote really sums up what this 90-DAY Creativity Challenge is about, but releasing expectations over the outcome of a creative practice has been easier to talk about than execute this week. I think this is partly due to the creative practices I chose for this week, but it’s also clearly part of the process of breaking down my inner perfectionist.

I attempted to start the week with creative journaling. I’ve missed this practice. For years, I would start my mornings with Rocket outside writing in my journal. He would hold space close by in the grass being his adorably wise self. It was my favorite way to start the day. I began this challenge by attempting to share this morning routine with our new puppy, Daisy. I was able to write  a sentence and half before Daisy would draw my attention to her by digging in the yard, trying to eat a rock, or whimpering for attention. While I did enjoy the time outside, my journal would close after about 5 sentences because it was impossible to focus and be in the creative practice.

Then I decided to dive into some fun, light-hearted design with Canva. The idea was sparked by a friend Lauren Pennywell, who spoke at the virtual conference we hosted at work recently. Lauren has a unique and quirky design style that I love. So I created a few Canva designs. This is my favorite one:

For this upcoming week, I have set some goals including sharing more with you about my progress. I will be dusting off my beloved ukulele, trying my hand at poetry, and maybe getting a little crafty. I also expect to see this inner perfectionist pop in this week, but this time I’ll be ready.

via GIPHY

yellow flower and sun beams
Creativity

The Power of Intentional Creativity

“The qualities of creativity and genius are within you,
awaiting your decision to match up with the power of intention.”
– Dr. Wayne Dyer

A few months ago, I was faced with an opportunity and need for re-evaluation. I had been burning the candle at both ends for over a year. After surviving the ongoing stresses of a pandemic, drowning in the crushing grief of losing my best friend, juggling increased and new job responsibilities, and overseeing the busy world of my teenage son’s virtual school, I realized the stream of creativity that I once felt fully engaged with had disappeared. The only time I was engaging with my creative mind was for my 9-to-5 job and every effort had begun to feel forced and empty.

My music had silenced. My personal writing had ceased. The special DIY touches for the holidays, which always brought myself and my family joy, were replaced with whatever was available on Amazon Prime. My soul was unfulfilled and worn out. My inner child was screaming for me to stop and color with her, but her crayons were broken.

It was time for an intervention.

via GIPHY

After trying to “fit in” creative practice moments into my overflowing schedule quite unsuccessfully, I meditated, prayed, and tuned in for inspiration.

As usual, the inspiration came in one of the most unlikely of places.

Clubhouse. Yes, the new the drop-in chat-based social media app everyone keeps talking about.

It my very first day trying out Clubhouse. I was listening to a conversation between Mark Drager, host of the We Do Hard Things Podcast, Evan Carmichael, a legendary professional coach, and my friend Bo Hawkins, the master of connection and breakthroughs in the professional world. I was on the call because Bo invited me to check it out. I stayed because I wanted to be present for his parts of the scheduled talk and show my support.

The conversation between the panel of experts had veered into an unexpected direction focusing on Mark. He was one month into a 90-day fitness challenge called “The Chunk to Hunk Challenge.” During the first month, he celebrated his birthday and had enjoyed a piece of  cake. His fitness coach supported the idea, but Evan, Mark’s mentor, did not. They started talking about the motivation and reason for starting the challenge and by end of the conversation, Mark had decided to re-start the challenge.

The entire conversation ignited a spark in my creative mind. What would happen if I committed to a public challenge like Mark had? 90 days of creative practice, documented on this blog and social media for accountability. Could this help me find my lost stream of creativity?

I shared the idea with my husband and my most creative friends. They were all supportive and added extremely useful insight about how to structure the challenge, set expectations, and creative practices to try.

I committed and set a start date, only to let is pass with the same excuses that led to the creative block.

So it’s time to commit right here and right now.

via GIPHY

My 90-day Creativity Challenge starts right NOW!

The guidelines for the challenge are simple. Every day, for 90 days, I need to take part in a creative practice with no purpose other than to enjoy the creative practice (which means no 9-to-5 work allowed). The daily creative practices don’t have to work towards a final project or be work that I’ll use for anything, but they can be. I’ll let the creative flow decide the outcome of the practice. Experimentation and “failure” is encouraged. If I try a new kind of creative skill and I suck at it, who cares! The point is to tap into the creative muscle each and every day with no strings attached.

I’ll make sure to share these kind of failures in the most “nailed it!” way possible. 😀

In an effort to learn from Mark’s lesson that led him to start his challenge over, I’ve worked on clear expectations and ways to overcome some of the possible challenges. For instant, I realize that on some days creativity may feel forced. That’s just life, and it’s okay. I’ll honor whatever comes up. The point of each day is to show up and put in the effort.

The next 90 days are all one giant experiment. Can 90 days of intentional creativity open the flood gates for my creative mind to shine? I have a feeling it will.

via GIPHY

Life

But what is grief, if not love persevering?

“It can’t all be sorrow, can it? I’ve always been alone, so I don’t feel the lack. It’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve never experienced loss because I’ve never had a loved one to lose. But what is grief, if not love persevering?” – Vision

This week has been a challenging one, because it ended with Rocket’s first birthday not physically with us. For the last 10 years, Rocket’s birthday has kicked off a 3-month string of birthday celebrations. We would start on March 19th by putting up a “Happy Birthday” banner for Rocket that would stay up through my son’s birthday in April and my birthday at the end of May. We would fill the living room with balloons, put a candle in a cupcake, and help Rocket blow it out while telling him that he was the answer to all of our birthday wishes.

This year, we hung a new “Happy Birthday” banner, blew up some balloons, made puppy chow, and shared our favorite memories of Rocket. We decided as a family that March 19th would forever more be known as “Rocket Day.” It would be an official family holiday.

The boys of the house have made it though the weekend so far without crying. I, however, woke up crying and haven’t stopped for long. The quote above has come to mind more than once this weekend. When I first heard it, I thought of Rocket. 

“But what is grief, if not love persevering?”

Before Rocket came along, I wasn’t much of a crier. He taught me that it was okay to be sad sometimes. Somehow he always knew when I was about to cry. He would come over, moments before the tears fell, and put his head against me. Whether it was from a sad part in a movie or a broken heart, he always knew and held space for the emotions to come through.

Our first annual Rocket Day, which we turned into Rocket Weekend, has been a bit uneventful. The boys have spent the weekend diving into video games in their respective gaming locations (aka the man cave and the teen boy room). As for me, I’ve been powering through it as best I can. The pandemic blocked any attempts at a big blow out, but I think that’s okay. I wouldn’t make it through any type of social gathering without breaking down. I feel like Rocket would be okay with that. Instead I spent time outside with Rocket’s little sister Daisy, who joined our family a few months after he passed. We sat in the grass, watched the clouds roll by, and tossed a tennis ball. All activities that I know Rocket would approve of.

I’m planning a big celebration that I hope to host next year for the neighborhood dogs and close friends of Rocket (it’s a big list, he was a bit of a social butterfly). But until it’s safe, any kind of social gathering will have to wait.

This year, I’m holding this thought closely, “But what is grief, if not love persevering?”

It’s a beautiful way to look at grief and loss. Neither can exist without love. It comes to reason that the deeper the love, the deeper the grief.  What a blessing it is to know a love like this.