7 Steps of Creating – Week 7 – TRUST

“Therefore the Master takes action 

by letting things take their course. 

He remains as calm 

At the end as at the beginning. 

He has nothing, 

Thus has nothing to lose. 

What he desires is non-desire; 

What he learns is to unlearn. 

He simply reminds people 

of who they have always been. 

He cares for nothing but the Tao. 

Thus he can care for all things.” 

—TAO TE CHING

Ooh!! I love the above verse from the Tao Te Ching. This is one of those passages that I re-remember every time I read it! Like, oh yeah, that’s right…I have to let everything “take their course.” Why did I forget that?

Of course, it’s tough to allow things to develop and unfold in their natural time. I know I get impatient just waiting for the tea kettle to boil! Accepting the natural development of things requires TRUST. Which is the seventh and final step in this ‘ol blog series.

As creators, when we have a deep trust in timing it allows us to find the place within where we can “remain calm,” and also be open and present. This gives us to access to our great well of wisdom inside — which we need to be the best artists that we can be.

I always have to remind myself that peace is an inside job. I love that line from A Course in Miracles: “peace begins with me.” Gabby Bernstein has an exercise she teaches where you count on your four fingers with your thumb: Peace. Begins. With. Me. I find this very helpful when I get caught up in stress — like when I’m going through security at the airport, or during a hectic tech rehearsal!

We can take this into our art and learn to sit in peace at every stage of a project: as blocks occur, as problems arise, when conflict comes up, when our own natural fears and reactions rear their ugly head — then we can see that these are just passing moments in the human existence. They don’t have the power to take our peace away, unless we let it.

Another great reminder in this verse is when it states the Master “has nothing.” I interpret this as not being attached to anything. Not clinging to one particular person, or situation. When we aren’t attached to a project having to manifest in any particular way, we can really listen to Life telling us where to go and what to do. We are not stuck on our own way, and the Universe always has a better plan than what we have in mind.

“He simply reminds people of who they have always been.” That is our job as artists, isn’t it? We are here to bring great virtues through our art to others. We are here to say the truth out loud, to expose injustice, to stimulate joy, excitement, and laughter. We are here to help people remember their spirit, to see Oneness, and to see that we are all connected.

So, what are some of the ways we can work with TRUST in our masculine and feminine energies?

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The Feminine Principle behind Step 7:

LETTING GO…

Letting go…it ain’t always easy!

I think Life sometimes asks us let go of “stuff”: people, places, ideas — so that we can remember that our happiness is not in the world of form, its in the Source. The things we think we are looking for, they aren’t on the outside, they are on the inner.

We all have to deal with “letting go” on a daily basis…whether its in how a meeting might go or our plans for the day… It’s a releasing of control, a release of inner grasping, or even inner labeling. As soon as I feel like I might be fighting or pushing against life, I know its time to let go…step back…surrender…

As an artist, there are so many times I thought a project was going to happen this way, and then it didn’t. And I had to trust there was a better way trying to emerge, and there always was. I’ve had times were I lost who I thought was the perfect lead actress for a part, only to find someone better. After it happens enough times, I don’t worry about loss, because I know its an infinite Universe, and what is RIGHT for me, always comes to me.

There is a spiritual teacher named August Gold who I adore,  she talks about shifting our inner dialogue from “Why is this happening TO me?” to “Why is this happening FOR me…?” It’s a really powerful exercise, and it keeps us from playing victims in our lives.

For example, we’ve all had a relationship or a job end abruptly, and thought “why is this happening TO me?” But if we can do a 180 on the question, and be able to look how this situation might be here to benefit our soul, to give us what we are REALLY looking for, then we see how Life is trying to help us.

When I find that I’m really holding onto something, or trying to fix or control it, I just imagine myself holding it up and letting it morph into a balloon as it floats into the sky… it becomes weightless, and at that moment, I give up carrying the heavy load around with me…

Once you play with the magic of letting go, you start to realize something very powerful: you’re actually making room for what wants to come towards you…and sometimes its exactly the thing you just let go of, but it a better (and more appropriate) way!

The Masculine Principle behind Step 7:

KEEP ON KEEPING ON

These the Masculine and Feminine Principles are often opposites…so, as we let go, we also need to “Keep On.” Letting go isn’t about not taking action, its about taking the right action — inspired action.

When things get tough, its easy to want to bail on our dreams. Or, as we get closer, there is often a point where we may be tempted to self-sabotage.  We may be tempted to somehow cut and run, pushing our soul’s work aside. We may be tempted to hide or shrink from our light — sometimes because of bad feedback we’ve gotten from others, or sometimes we can get stuck in some negative thought pattern. Whatever comes up – no matter how rough it gets – the most important thing is NOT TO GIVE UP. Think about something as basic as exercising the human body – it is only after our muscles at first collapse and “break down” that we are about to gain the strength and results we have been seeking.  It is at precisely this point when we are about to make real progress.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” — Calvin Coolidge 

I know Life is a self-refining system. The Universe wants us to evolve.  And we will be given those opportunities to grow, and it often looks like struggle or hardship. But what is really happening is that our soul is being asked to expand, to get bigger. I’ve heard it said that we will be given a dream that is bigger than we are, and then we have to grow bigger (often through challenges and obstacles) in order to be able to be large enough to hold that dream.

“The most essential factor is persistence – the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.” — James Whitcomb Riley

Discouragement is part of life, it happens. As the quote above says, its inevitable. But its our job to rev our own engines and up our own enthusiasm. We can stand in peace, knowing that our good is on the way, and the seeming road-blocks are just part of the creative process.

When things start to become slow, or I feel like I’m not seeing the progress, I like to think of it as “under ground” time. There are things going on under ground: things growing, shifting, and changing that I just can’t see yet! And soon it will be Spring and I will see the fruit of my labor.

I like to think about how many start-ups were built, slowly, brick-by-brick. People just doing what they love created something massive. It’s a little bit of work consistently over a long period of time that creates real, lasting change.

So, we keep on keeping on as we keep letting go…

Sometimes, I imagine holding one in each hand: my right hand continues to move forward, build, create, and generate while in my left hand, I continue to surrender, listen, and release attachment to the “how.” Then, I get to live in the amazement of how Life makes my dreams come true in the most beautiful, miraculous, and unexpected ways…

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That’s it for this series! Have you enjoyed it? Are you ready for another series? I would love if you left me a message below…

Also, if you are in NYC, Natalie Roy and I have 3 more nights left to our Revol-YOU-tion workshop: April 12th, April 19th, & April 26th. Drop-in!

If you are in LA, we are doing our Revol-YOU-tion Workshop there in one weekend, May 15-17!

For more information on either workshop email: [email protected]

7 Steps of Creating – Week 6 – MANIFEST

We’ve all heard the term “MANIFEST.”  Especially in spiritual circles.  So much so, that sometimes you might want to roll your eyes if someone tells you they are “manifesting” something…

I think that’s because when we hear the term, we can think of it as passive “hoping” and wishing.”  And, let’s be honest, that doesn’t feel true. We all know there’s more to creating what you want than that.

I see “manifesting” as a very active term. It’s a verb.  As artists, that’s exactly what we are doing when we create something out of nothing. We see/feel/hear something in our imagination, and we bring it into the world.

Something internally clicked for me about the word “Manifest” when I started reading Neville Goddard. Neville was a new thought leader and mystic, who started in the theater (and worked with the Schuberts!), and then became a great lecturer and author. His books include “The Power of Awareness” and “Your Faith is Your Fortune.”

One of his quotes that I love says: “Health, wealth, beauty, and genius are not created; they are only manifested by the arrangement of your mind – that is, by your concept of yourself…Your reactions reveal where you live psychologically; and where you live psychologically, determines how  you live here in the outer visible world.” – THE POWER OF AWARENESS, Neville

He was a bad ass. He knew about doing the work on “the inner,” and talked about how  “the outer” became a reflection of those inner beliefs.

“Change your conception of yourself and you will automatically change the world in which you live. Do not try to change people; they are only messengers telling you who you are. Revalue yourself and they will confirm the change.” ― YOUR  FAITH IS YOUR FORTUNE, Neville

What I love about this is that it gives us the responsibility (and opportunity!) to change our concepts about ourselves. It makes me look at what ideas I’m carrying around in my head, and how those thoughts might be asking for attention. They point out places where I need to examine my belief systems.

So, in these Feminine and Masculine aspects of “Manifest,” we are going to look at how we become active participants in creating our work and our lives.

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The Feminine Principle behind Step 6:

PULLING IN

We are all connected. And since this world is energy, we are always connected to everything we need on the energetic level.

I like to think of it this way: I couldn’t have a desire for something if it didn’t exist in the world and actually want me too. It’s supply and demand.

So, I have this meditation exercise I do, and I call it “PULLING IN.”  I sit in silence and I imagine that I have these alive energy strings that are emanating from my body…they stretch outward – and reach infinite lengths – connecting to the thing that I wish to manifest. Then, I imagine my body as this magnet, totally turned on and pulling to me the thing that I desire. I actually see it, in my mind’s eye coming toward me.

There’s a few things I love about what this exercise creates in me: 1) It raises my expectancy level. Instead of going through life feeling disconnected to something, I actually feel very connected to it, and I now I’m looking for it to come my way. It helps me experience the world with new eyes. 2) It also raises my energy. Because now I sense it coming to me, I start to get excited! My vibration gets higher, and I walk through the world with an inner knowing, feeling completely charged. 3) It makes me ready for the unexpected in life. I never know what channel something might come to me through, and so it opens me up. I become more receptive to the different ways life is communicating.

“We can have anything that we can accept mentally: but if we cannot accept it mentally, we cannot get it – no matter what we do.” – Catherine Ponder

The Masculine Principle behind Step 2:

BECOMING AN EXPERT

Become the Michael Jordan of what you do!  In this part of manifesting, you don’t wait for what you want to come to you – you go out and become the thing you want. Take joy in developing excellence at what you do.  Become a master.

“A staff is given only to he who already holds one.’  — Zen riddle  

There is magic contained in the dedication to the mastery of our craft.  When we become masters of something, we breakthrough boundaries and limitations and enter into a realm where anything is possible.

If you are called to be a street sweeper, sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven  composed music, or Shakespeare  wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” — Martin Luther King 

When we show up to our life with devotion and presence, it puts us in touch with our personal power. When we do our work with an eye for excellence — not to get anywhere — but because we see it as a gift, it can’t help but be attractive. We take our eye off what we want to get, and focus on what we are here to give, and our lives starts to glow with the powerful authenticity of our being.

Steven Pressfield has an incredible book called “Turning Pro.” It is ass-kicking in the best possible way. There’s so much gold, it’s hard to just pull one quote, so I’ll pull two:

“Our intention as artists is to get better, to go deeper, to work closer and closer to the bone.” — TURNING PRO, Steven Pressfield

“When we raise our game aesthetically, we elevate it morally and spiritually as well.” — TURNING PRO, Steven Pressfield

I think when we create, we are trying to get to a place inside of ourselves that is the most true. And only we are in control of that. When we touch that place in us, and bring it into the world, we are touching what is sacred. We are actually making the divine manifest.

So, try holding one in each hand — PULLING IN and BECOMING — at the same time.  See what happens when you experiment with feeling of what you want coming towards you, as you actually work on becoming that thing itself.

And let me know what happens!

7 Steps of Creating – Week 5 – TRUTH

What is creativity if not a way to express ourselves? And to fully express ourselves, we must tap into our TRUTH.

Unfortunately, I think we get it backwards sometimes. We can become so concerned with being successful (with people liking or approving of our art) that we stop “tapping in” to our own voice. But it’s by listening to ourselves — the deepest part of ourselves — that we can really bring something of value in the world.

This week we look at Step 5 – TRUTH.

That’s it! It’s you, baby…what YOU GOT inside.

I like to think of TRUTH as our inner voice, the center, our core.

Within us lies something that is so incredibly unique, and at the same time, completely universal. This is your power. Own it. Treasure it.

The interesting thing about Truth, is that we all know when we see it. What are we responding to when we see a great movie, or read a fantastic book, or a moving piece of theater? Some Universal Truth has been hit upon that we can deeply feel. It’s what is really Real. And we can feel our souls responding.

This is why we became artists in the first place. Because we want to share what we have inside.

“But you have It within you. That which you are seeking, you already embody within yourself. It constitutes your very being.” — LIVING BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, Joel S. Goldsmith

I think that’s the beautiful thing — this Truth is already within us. It is us.

In our feminine energy, we are going to get quiet, still, and listen to it. And in the masculine, we are going to act on that truth, and speak it out loud.

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The Feminine Principle behind Step 5: 

LISTENING TO YOUR INSTINCT, AND TO THE UNIVERSE…

There is a part of ourselves that is always communicating with us, letting us know what is right for us in this very moment.  As artists, we can learn how to fine-tune ourselves to the “still small voice within” as we move through the world.

We’ve all felt our intuition. We’ve all had the experience of creating and been “told” exactly what to do. Our best work is when we listen to our instincts, our intuitive impulses. This is how Spirit intercedes and guides us…

“The reason you listen to your vibes is to surrender control so that the Universe can step in and help you. God knows better than you how to take action in most situations, so relax, get out of the way, and let it happen.”– Sonia Choquette

When we trust our instincts and follow our “hits” (as I like to call them), we find we are leading magic lives. This is true in our work, and also in our lives.

Steve Jobs, a lifelong meditator, was outspoken about listening to his intuition. This is where he said his ideas came from. His Truth was his guiding force:

“Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” –Steve Jobs

Yep, Steve did a good job listening to himself and look what he was able to create! Not too shabby! I like when he says our intuition already “knows what we want to become.” He knew our guide is inside. I also love how he discusses not letting the “noise of other’s opinions drown out” that voice. We will always be surrounded by people who think they know better. Sometimes those opinions are coming from fear. Or what the status quo is. But no one knows the way for you like your heart does. That’s why we need to “tune in.” Our Soul already knows the way…

Listen to what Oprah has to say. I think she’s done pretty well for herself too:

“I think the thing, the one thing that has allowed me to certainly achieve both material success and spiritual success, is the ability to listen to my instinct. I call it my inner voice. It doesn’t matter what you call it — nature, instinct, higher power. It’s the ability to understand the difference between what your heart is saying and what your head is saying. I now always go with the heart. Even when my head is saying, ‘Oh, but this is the rational thing; this is really what you should do.’ I always go with that little… feeling. The feeling. I am where I am today because I have allowed myself to listen to my feelings.”

So, don’t take my word for it, Oprah and Steve Jobs — take their word for it! Listen to your instinct. Listen to the inner voice. It’s all there.

How do we do this? 1) Get still and quiet for a few minutes, 2) Release your thoughts and breathe, 3) Ask a question, 4) Write down what comes. I love doing this exercise with people. Because the “inner voice” never fails. It’s always there. Telling us exactly what to do, and even how to do it.

The Masculine Principle behind Step 5:

ACT ON YOUR TRUTH AND SPEAK UP

This is something I know — the more we listen to our instinct and act on it, the more it shows up! It’s like a muscle that keeps getting stronger and stronger!

Sometimes our instincts might tell us to do something “wild” and we go with it! Then something wonderfully unexpected happens. It’s like when we get a hunch to go into a store, and we see an old friend who tells us exactly what we need to hear. By experiment, we can learn that there’s an intelligence deep inside of us…and the more we trust it, and take risks, the more it pays off…

This step is also when you realize that WHAT you have to say is valuable and that no one has a voice exactly like yours.  When people ask you what you are working on, do you lower your voice and scuff your feet?  Or, do you own your voice and tell them with enthusiasm about what you are working on?  The world needs your special spark. Just listen to Martha Graham and one of the best quotes EVER!!!

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” – Martha Graham

We all must be courageous enough to put the Truth of who we are into our work, then it will shine from within. Tennessee Williams said, “if the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.” 

This is not to say that you have to be aggressive or wrapped-up in your ego — or use your voice to squash someone else. This is actually an opportunity to acknowledge that your truth and light are coming from a place larger than you. It’s “I’ve been given this message and I respect and honor it.” When you do this, you can see that what you have to share is actually a gift…to you and to the receiver.

In the same way, we have to respect the Truth inside of others. I always think about this in collaboration. I like to think that Spirit plants a little bit of the answer inside each of us and so we have to communicate to find the solution. It’s like someone has half the key, and someone else has the other half and you have to say it all out loud to find the truth.

Truth is powerful. And it “unlocks” our lives. We can see this in our work — and also in relationships, with family, and in business. Whenever the truth feels REALLY SCARY, that’s probably a great clue that we absolutely need to say it. We can trust that our voice is potent, and when we put it into the world, there will be a powerful result.

And Truth is not just a one time thing. Recently, I had a situation where I was scared to speak up and say what was in my heart. I finally did and I was terrified. And it was actually extremely powerful when the other person validated what I had to say. I felt an extreme sense of freedom, as well as an acceptance of my own instincts. A few weeks passed, and a similar situation came up, and guess what? I didn’t want to speak my truth AGAIN! In fact, for about a day I went around feeling sick because I didn’t want to confront it. I had to tell myself “authenticity at all costs.” When I finally spoke my truth, guess what?  That sense of freedom and self-acceptance was back, and the entire situation opened up…

Pema Chodron, the Buddhist monk, has a quote that hits me to my core: “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”

Isn’t that wonderful to know? We must look for the fear! Actually, the things you feel the most afraid of talking about is where something is lurking that wants to be in the light. Something that will set you free.

This is what I know, if you want to feel fully alive — if you want your work and your life to crackle and pop — the Truth is where to begin.

Let’s root ourselves in the Truth of who we are so that we can own it, and know it, and share it with others.

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What resonated for you in this blog post? Let me know!! I’d love to hear your thoughts…

7 Steps of Creating – Week 4 – TRANSFORM

Ooh!! This is a juicy one! This is where the good stuff happens…

TRANSFORM

This is what I know: following our dreams is a path that brings us back to our wholeness.

That’s right, and you can’t go on this journey, or even bring a new creative project into the world, without undergoing the process of transformation. It can be messy, challenging, pull-your-hair-out frustrating, and scary. But that’s because something is happening deep within us. Our path wants to bring up all the unhealed parts of ourselves and to heal them.

So…every time I direct a show, I know that show has come into my life to teach me something, and to help me to change, grow, and evolve. There is absolutely NO WAY that I’m going to be the same person that started that project. In fact, I know I HAVE TO GET BIGGER every time I give birth to something new.

Now, this isn’t exactly an easy process… Think about birth itself: it ain’t clean or painless, but it is a miracle.

This is the week where we acknowledge that as we move through the process of creation, we better be prepared for things to change.

It’s the Butterfly Process. In order to become something new, we have to let go of what we have been…

The Feminine Principle behind Step 4:

The 3 R’s: Reprogramming, Reaffirming and Reframing

“We are what we think.  All that we are arises with our thought.  With our thoughts, we make our world.” –The Buddha 

Often, to manifest our dreams we are going to have to let go of an old way of thinking. We all have old mental patterns that are keeping us stuck. When I talk to people who are feeling like they can’t break through, they usually have a list of reasons why their dream can’t work (lack of resources, time, age, etc). The truth is, the only limitations are the ones in our minds. We may need to change our neuro-pathways to rewire how we look at the world and ourselves in it.

This means Reprogramming our thoughts, Reaffirming the vision of our Best Selves and Reframing the context of how we see our world.

What do these words mean? I’ll tell ya!!

To describe this whole “3 R” process, I’m going to take you through my weight-loss journey, and describe how I used these methods to transform myself physically….

Okay, I’m 25 years old, I just got my undergraduate and masters degree in under 5 years, produced and directed the original production of “bare” and sold my first film…but guess what I wasn’t doing? Taking care of my body! I had gained A LOT of weight. And I mean, A LOT. It was stress, over-working, hiding, and overall just not thinking enough of myself or my body. But inside, I knew this wasn’t me. I had a VISION of who I really was as my best self, and in my best body…

And I had NO IDEA how to get there.

So, I decided that I was just going to try to “point in the direction” of who I really was…I knew if I pointed in that direction long enough, I had to get there.

REPROGRAMMING:

One of the first things I had to do was “reprogram” my thoughts. These are all the fearful, ugly thoughts that rattle around in our brain. The egos little lies about what we can and can’t do. I knew that underneath all that extra-weight were “untruth’s” about myself that I had to change in order to have the slim, healthy body I desired.

Examples of  negative core beliefs that I had:

“I will never have the body that want”

“I don’t have any discipline” 

“I’ll make some progress, but then I’ll sabotage myself”

“I’m not a great athlete” 

“I’m lazy”

“I just wasn’t born with good genes”

So, this is when I first discovered the Flip Exercise. Basically, you take the negative core beliefs (the fears inside you) and you flip them to its opposite, see below…

“I don’t have any discipline”  flips to “I have amazing self-discipline and I can do anything that I set my mind to!”

“I’ll make some progress, but then I’ll sabotage myself” flips to “I am determined to reach my goal, and if I have a minor set-back, fine. I will get up and try again. If I keep trying, I MUST get there!”

“I’m not a great athlete” flips to “I was perfectly and divinely created and my body has capabilities that are just waiting to be discovered!” 

“I’m lazy” flips to “I am full of energy, focus, and determination. I am unstoppable!!!”

“I will never have the body that want” flips to “Exactly what I want is on my way to me right now. My body is self-correcting, and if I nourish it correctly, it will respond in kind! It’s on the way right now! I feel myself getting more healthy this very second!”

I like to flip the fear it to its biggest opposite. I also like to use powerful words that have an emotional feeling behind it.

Now, some people have told me that if the flip is too big — too opposite — they have a hard time believing it. So if your fear is “I never have enough money” and “I’m a magnet for abundance and money comes to me easily and effortlessly” feels like too big a stretch, find the flip that works for you. Some like the phrase “I’m willing to believe…” So you could flip to “I’m willing to believe that I’m abundant and that money is on its way to me now.” Experiment until you find what works for you!

You can use this for your writing, or getting your movie made, making money, or really ANYTHING that you want to create. But if you investigate your thoughts, you’ll find that there’s often little stories hanging out in your psyche that are untrue and they want to be healed.

This is what I know, the Universe is on our side. But we can’t receive what it wants to give if our thoughts are standing in the way…

REAFFIRMING:

We’ve all probably heard the words: “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

We create our deepest held beliefs about ourselves. One of the ways we can get into our subconscious thoughts is through affirmations.

Florence Scovel Shinn, one of my favorite spiritual teachers, talks in her books about our words as incantations. There is power in the spoken word. By our words, she says, we become creators, master artists.

Now that you have flipped fears, you have the opposite, transformative statement. I like to call these Power Statements. And when I was on my weight-loss journey, I PUT THEM EVERYWHERE. Put them in my purse, in my wallet, on my mirror, EVERYWHERE! Basically, anywhere I looked everyday.

Then, as I would come across my statements during my day, I would say them out loud, with power and purpose. I would feel the words in my body. And I would feel them as true.

Every time you do this you are REAFFIRMING. Your subconscious is listening to you. Your very cells are believing you and you are becoming what you say.

REFRAMING:

We also have to reframe experiences that we have created a negative context around. We have to shift and change our paradigm in order to grow.

There’s been many times were I’ve talked to actors, who have had such negative experiences and beliefs around auditioning, that before they even walk into the room, their bad story is weighing them down…

Maybe you have issues around trust, so collaborating is a challenge for you? Or you were taught to repress your voice, so confrontation brings up fear?

“Reframing” is when we create a new, uplifting story around something that we have an old, negative experience around. For 25 year-old Kristin, I had to reframe my experience around working out. I remember when I first started, I had to tell myself that it was my privilege to go and enjoy walking on the treadmill. I would focus on how good it felt to move my body, how proud of myself I would feel after, how the afterglow would give me extra energy in my day. I would listen to my favorite music, and enjoy the sauna after. I created the positive story so that it became an experience I looked forward to. I also had to change my story around the foods I ate, and reframe my experience around grocery shopping and preparing meals. I mentally saw myself creating a gorgeous, healthy meals and made it a luxurious experience. You see, my relationship to my body, my health, and my meals couldn’t change until my story changed.

It took me from 25 to 27 to reach my goal weight, and I kept the weight off for ten years now. I’ve had people ask me, “how did you make the weight loss permanent,” and what I say is that “I changed my thoughts.” I realize now that the weight-loss was a wonderful learning tool that taught me that I can do ANYTHING through the power of my mind and inspired action.

Once I had these tools, I applied them to my creativity and my art. I saw where fears and negative core beliefs that were holding me back in that arena, and then all sorts of exciting breakthroughs began to happen!! Whether we are creating in our life or in our art, it’s all the same principles.

The Masculine Principle behind Step 4: 

MOVING THROUGH FEAR.

One of the things that makes us all the same, is that we all experience “fear.” No one doesn’t have these sneaky little lies that pop into their head.

It’s interesting, when fear is locked up in our minds — when it is private — it can feel very big and scary. I find that when I share my fears with others, and bring them into the light, they lose their power.

The truth is that fear is an illusion. Those things we worry about so deeply are not even real. And I think Life wants to teach us how “not real” they are.

When we start to act, and actually MOVE THROUGH our fears, something amazing happens. We feel totally, radically, and magically alive. Discovering that the fear is not real is incredibly empowering!

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” – Henry Ford

Fear is so sweet and well-meaning. It’s just the misguided part of ourself that wants to warn and protect us from the scary things it has conjured up about the unknown.  Fear wants to keep us small and safe. But something happens if we stay contained in our safety…we start to get stagnate, we start to feel numb, life starts to feel like we are going through the motions…and we often have to find a way to silence our inner voice…and we do that through alcohol, over-working, shopping, gambling, eating, obsessing over other people…whatever your drug of choice is.

Our Soul longs to grow, and it MUST. It will not let us hide behind our fears. And if you want to feel truly alive, moving through the fear is the first way I know to get there.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

So, in your creativity, in your art, in your life, where are you allowing fear to keep you small? Have you shared this fear with someone else? Is there an action you could take that would push you into the unknown?

I feel like if we could all “out” our fears, we would see that we are not alone. That we are all in this together. If you feel so brave and courageous today, try sharing your fears in the comments below…or share one step you could take today to move through your fear.

As soon as you take the action, you will start to feel vibrantly alive…Fear is that cocoon we must break through – the skin we must shed – to become the butterfly.

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

7 Steps of Creating – Week 3 – PROCESS

We’ve all heard people say it, “it’s the journey, not the destination.” And I know, I know…it’s so frickin’ frustrating!!! We all want to be THERE already. We want that script to be written, to book the juicy role, to have the movie green-lit, and for the show to be on Broadway. We are a results-oriented culture — we can’t help it! But by being too focused on the end-game, we miss what is trying to happen right now.

To accept this beautiful life as an artist, we have to learn to fall in love with the PROCESS.

The 3rd Step is all about that: acknowledge, accept, and allow where you are.

The Process of Creating will demand that we be in the present moment, where all the good stuff happens. We have to let go of the past and trust that the future will unfold as it should. If we can do that, we harness our strongest point of leverage.

Here. Now. This is where your power is.

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” — Kurt Vonnegut

The Feminine Principle behind Step 3:

LET IT FLOW

In this step you are encouraged to get messy with your ideas!  Play!!! Brainstorm without boundaries and write that first draft with zero attachment – let go of perfection!  We gotta first allow crudity in order for our true genius to emerge unencumbered by the “when’s,” “if’s,” and “but’s.”

I like to call it “Bless the Mess!”

Sometimes, when I’m writing, I just have to tell myself “be free.” I just have to keep repeating this in my head, so I don’t get attached to having to be “good.” I need permission to not be perfect. When I’m in the state of allowing, then I can be open, and that’s when a miracle might happen. I may get surprised by something that pops in my head, or discover one of those happy accidents.

Einstein knew this: “To stimulate creativity one must develop childlike inclination for play…” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ”It is a happy talent to know how to play.”

I like to think of it as “in the sandbox” time…Throw the dirt on the walls, get messy, be child, be silly…If you are having fun when you are creating, chances are THAT vibration is going to show up in your work, and its going to translate and be contagious to those that see it.

When we are letting it flow, our subconscious gets to work through us. Often it knows what to do more than our conscious mind does. I like how Miles Davis put it: “I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later.” He knew something was coming through him that was faster than his mind would compute. It was coming from his soul, and it had an intelligence all its own.

In order to get into this zone, we have to come to what we are doing with an open heart, judgement free, fully-engaged. So, shake off where ever it is you think you are trying to get to, open up, and HAVE FUN!!!

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” — Dale Carnegie

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves.” – Carl Jung

The Masculine Principle behind Step 4:

CREATE ORDER

These Masculine and Feminine Principles are almost always opposites. So after we get done “letting it flow,” then its time to go back through and “create order.” This is where the editing happens, when notes are given, and the work is refined.

It’s discernment. It’s trimming off the fat, and focusing in on the essential. It’s asking the tough questions, and rising our game so that we can be our best.

I think it’s really important to make sure that we don’t do this step too soon. This where people freeze up. They never get a page written, because they are too busy making sure every sentence on the first page is exactly right.

The novelist Dominick Dunne said, ”The best advice on writing was given to me by my first editor, Michael Korda, of Simon and Schuster, while writing my first book. ‘Finish your first draft and then we’ll talk,’ he said. It took me a long time to realize how good the advice was. Even if you write it wrong, write and finish your first draft. Only then, when you have a flawed whole, do you know what you have to fix.”

It’s as if “letting it flow” is like dumping all the raw material out onto the table.  Then we step back, look at what we did, and see where improvement is necessary.  But we need to able to see the whole, in order to evaluate it. It’s at this time that we can reflect,  ask questions, and get input. Finally, we are ready to step in, using our craft, and  start shaping.

I find that the great thing about this step, is that if we ask others, we will find out what’s needs to be fixed in our piece. Of course, anyone who has gotten Studio Development notes, knows that there is plenty of bogus feedback out there. Everyone has opinions, and sometimes those opinions are based on personal beliefs and they aren’t true for your work. In order to discern good notes from bad, I like to use this rule for myself: 1) if someone gives me a note, and it feels like truth in my body — fix it; 2) if three people give me the same note, it’s pointing out an issue — fix it.

“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.” – Arthur Plotnik

This is our job. To be able, and willing, to do both. To fall in love with the great mysteries that occur when we are playing in the creative process, and to fall in love with the refinement.

As we do this, we realize “there’s no ‘there’ there.” The only thing that we have is loving this sweet job we have of making something out of nothing.

I hope you enjoy the process of where ever you are today!

7 Steps of Creating – Week 2 – SHOW UP

The Second Step in these 7 Steps of Creating may seem, uh, self-evident? But the Second Step is to SHOW UP.

I know, “duh.” Right? But sometimes “showing up” is half-the-battle…

I was talking with a friend this morning about how sometimes we have to trick ourselves into working out. Like, let me just put my work out clothes on…OR I just have to get my feet inside the gym…

I think it’s because we often look at a big task and feel like we have to scale the ENTIRE MOUNTAIN. And, also — as Steven Pressfield talks about so well — our small-self, or our “ego,” has Resistence to what our Soul wants to become. And we have to push through that Resistence, or that discomfort.  That’s part of “Showing Up.”

But something else happens when we SHOW UP.  Magic.

This is when the character voices start talking to us. When we see what needs to happen in the scene. When the melody just comes. When you hear exactly the right string part in your song. The words appear on the page.

See, Magic…the unexpected goodies of creativity… can’t happen UNLESS we show up.

I love this quote by Thoreau…

“I have learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.  He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.” — Henry David Thoreau

I frickin’ LOVE that! We will pass “an invisible boundary.” I know this is true! As I have said before, creating is communing with the Divine. And that is why I show up to create. I want some of that sweet other-wordly lovin’! I adore how my body feels when I know Spirit is passing through and coming onto the page, or into the scene, or whatever.

So, what’s your art? How do you show up for it? Is it sitting down at the computer? Showing up at the easel? Sitting at the piano? Our gifts want to flow through us and TRANSFORM our lives, but we have to Show Up for them. It’s a two-way street.

As Joel Goldsmith, one of my favorite spiritual teachers, said, “We are antennas for the universal human mind…”

Okay, so how do we “Show Up” in our Masculine and Feminine energies?

The Feminine Principle behind Step 2:

DOWNLOADING

In downloading we use our intuition; we open and ask to be given instructions, divine ideas, or “inspired action.”  It’s about getting quiet, and becoming available to receive. It can happen while we are driving peacefully through a beautiful day, on a hike in the mountains, sitting and having a cup of tea. It’s when our mind is still and empty, and we can become powerful receivers.

It’s catching the Magic.

You can hear it in Mozart’s description of how ideas would come to him:

“When I feel well and in a good humor, or when I am taking a drive or walking after a good meal, or in the night when I cannot sleep, thoughts crowd into my mind as easily as you could wish. Whence and how do they come? I do not know and I have nothing to do with it. Those which please me, I keep in my head and hum them; at least others have told me that I do so. Once I have my theme, another melody comes, linking itself to the first one, in accordance with the needs of the composition as a whole: the counterpoint, the part of each instrument, and all these melodic fragments at last produce the entire work.”Mozart

I love how he says that he has “nothing to do with it.” I know this is true! And the thing is, a lot of times we put pressure ourselves that we have to “be good,” “be smart,” “be original,” but all we really have to do is be OPEN. Be ready to catch.

Elizabeth Gilbert, her famous Ted Talk, discusses the ancient Greek and Roman’s opinion about genius and creativity: “People believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons. The Greeks famously called these divine attendant spirits of creativity “daemons.” Socrates, famously, believed that he had a daemon who spoke wisdom to him from afar. The Romans had the same idea, but they called that sort of disembodied creative spirit a genius.”

There was an interview with Michael Jackson where he said that melodies would come to him in his sleep, and he had to wake up and write them down or “God would give them to Prince.”

I think there’s something wonderful about thinking of our best ideas as this gift that comes from our Higher Self, or Source, or whatever you want to call it. I know for myself, a lot of my staging will come to me a visions right before I fall asleep. And when I’m directing, its like there is a voice, whispering in my ear, telling me what to say…

So, if “Visioning” is how the IDEA appears to us. Then “Downloading” is the repetitive, daily action of becoming clear and open to SHOW UP for the divine information.

The Masculine Principle behind Step 2:

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

This can be so simple!  It means just what it says: take action.

So, whatever you were “given” in your downloading process. Do that. Write down the scene. Start the painting. Call the person.

And remember, you don’t have to complete the entire project here (Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?), just take that next step.  Even if it seems silly or is met with resistance.

We can take the next step with an easy, light touch. We don’t need to force it, or push it. In fact, I believe in the Creative Process, when things start to get “hard,” it’s often because you are going down the wrong road. When things get “hard,” I step back, take a breath, change my scenery, and then all of the sudden, a new idea will “pop in.” A new way of looking at things…

We are not supposed to know “how to get it all done.” So, don’t worry about the “how’s.” It’s not your job. Usually, you can only see 200 hundred feet in front of you. And then more will be revealed to you as you go…I think of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Do you remember, toward the end of the movie, Harrison Ford is in the temple, and then he steps out into nothingness, and the rest of the path appears? I know that is what it is like pursuing our vision…we take a step, and  the next step shows up.

So, all you have to focus on right now, is showing up each day, and doing what is in front of you to do.

Hopefully, with joy and gratefulness for getting to be the Wonderful Creator that you are.

“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” – Goethe

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