Who Do You Need to Forgive?

When you look back on the journey of being an artist who do you need to forgive? I mean, if you've been doing this for any amount of time, there will be people to forgive.

The person who ripped off your idea. The person who told you to keep your day job after they saw what you made. The person who balked at your prices. The person who insulted you in front of your peers. The person who promised you that show (or book, or deal, or golden opportunity) and then flaked and disappeared. The person who never paid you for your work.

I could go on, but you get the gist.

When I look back at my creative journey and start to tally up what I call "a million little humiliations" I get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people I could forgive. And I feel bitter all over again. Why SHOULD I forgive them? What they did sucked.

But then I remember they're not the ones being held back by the past. They're not the ones hanging on to an unresolvable situation. They're not the ones waiting for an omniscient voice to boom from the sky, "You were right! They were wrong!"

It's just plain ineffective to live in the wounded place.

(How do you know when you're living in the wounded place? When someone presents you an opportunity and you approach it defensively. When you think about your past and feel bitter. When you overcompensate by trying to be perfect. When you turn down viable offers for fear of being hurt. When you believe all the negative crap people have said about you or your work.)

Talking about this today a dear friend and fellow entrepreneur reminded me that I am not the person I used to be. I am stronger, wiser, more powerful. And because of that I would never be caught alive in most any of those situations I used to put myself in when I was younger, situations that were breeding grounds for stress, anxiety and humiliation.

The great irony is that all of those hard moments with all of those jerks are what lead me to a place of greater strength. They're actually the reason my boundaries are stronger. The reason I can say no to opportunities that seem too good to be true. The reason I can spot a jerk, or a drama queen, or an abuser, or a hustler a mile away. The reason I value peace in my life above all else.

When I look at it through that lens and see the bigger picture, I know that my creative spirit was forged in the fire, and that I can forgive those people because they were part of one big, messy, painful soul plan that helped me step into my power.

And that's pretty cool.

But you know what else? There's one person who needs forgiveness more than any of these people. Me. (Extrapolating: the person you most need to forgive is you.)

I mean, how could we have let ourselves settle for less, or ignore our intuition, or stay in an abusive situation, or allow other people's opinions to shape us so thoroughly, or believe what that rejection letter said about work we knew was true to our heart?

I try to remember that we all show up with a stunted child inside, or with a family wound, or with an unconscious pattern, and when I remember that it becomes a lot easier to give myself a break.

Every one of us has been hurt by other people. The question is, will we keep letting that pain hold us back from our creative destiny, or will we release it and move forward?

Photo credit: Patrick Humphries/CC

 

Artists, It's Time to Get Over Feeling Icky about Self Promotion

As artists we strive to be authentic. We search for truth as we take something unseen and bring it to light. Our creativity is born of our unique vision, heart, and soul. It's hard then to see the concept of making a sale as fitting in with this pure self-expression. Time and again, through mass media and even our own artistic creations (particularly film and TV), we've been shown that salespeople are inauthentic. At best they're shallow and pleasantly disconnected (the QVC archetype), and at worst they're slimy, underhanded manipulators greedy for our hard-earned cash (the Snake Oil archetype).

With this kind of spectrum we're naturally repelled by the idea of trying to sell something.

We take the day job and keep art as a side gig or hobby, so it remains untarnished by the murky underworld of money. Yet, we simultaneously lament our lack of time and opportunity when it comes to our art.

Time and again artists who become successful at selling their own wares are seen as "sell-outs," the art world's dirtiest word and most scathing insult.

We've come to believe that artists who achieve status as not only full-time artists, but financially sound ones at that, lose something in the process - their soul, their vision, their edge.

This is unfair and a double standard. We can't yearn for a culture that supports artists then criticize those who receive support - monetary or otherwise. At this point in our cultural history, sales is no longer something to shy away from due to an outdated belief that doing so requires pimping a product we don't care about to an unsuspecting audience.

Selling is simply about finding a compatible home for the work we make so we can continue to make it. Today, artists who want to be doing it full-time must embrace making a living from their art, and understand that our creative expression doesn't just remain intact in the face of money, but thrives with the acquisition of it.

Truthfully, when we're turned off by someone promoting themselves it's not that they're promoting themselves, it's how they're doing it.

Being authentic is easier than ever. Thanks to the internet and social media we can now directly connect our daily lives with a growing audience. We can share images or thoughts about our creative process. We can ask questions to engage with fans, or for informative feedback. We can show works-in-progress, bringing people into the fold as we navigate our way through creation. We can even post about our kids, our animals, our food and more.

We can do these things, and we should if we want to be financially successful. These authentic day-to-day offerings are how we share our essence and our work with people we feel aligned with, people who want to own what we make. It's time for creative folks to show up, be visible, and let go of the idea that it's wrong to promote our work. The world needs successful, authentic, creative people who embrace their life's purpose by allowing themselves to be supported.

And, hey, even if you put yourself out there and don't make many sales for whatever reason (a reason you'll likely uncover if you keep at it), you can be sure that sharing your creative work will inspire other potential creators to express themselves, or encourage fellow artists to show up and be seen too.

If you want to learn to become a better receiver - of joy, pleasure, money, creativity, and more - please join me for theTao of Receivingonline program starting May 24, 2015!

Photo by MartinaK15/cc

 

Receive More. More Creativity. More Money. More Love.

I was tired. Tired of struggling with my creative work. Tired of being broke. Tired of working so hard and never getting over that elusive "hump" - you know, the place where once you get over it you can kick back and relax for a bit.

I asked the universe what I needed to do and the answer was, "Let yourself receive."

In the past month I've spoken with 10 experts around various aspects of receiving. I spoke to intuitive painting teacher Chris Zydel about receiving creativity; I spoke to business mentor Ava Waits about receiving money; I spoke with spiritual wellness Barbara Schultz around receiving guidance; I spoke with MA Yoga founder Jessica Jennings about the body as a receiver, and many more people about various aspects of receiving.

I took all those awesome conversations and used them as the basis for an online program that can help other artists or inner space explorers receive more - more love, more pleasure, more money, more creativity.

The Tao of Receiving online program starts on May 24, 2015 and will be a 40 day hands-on experience that uses participants own lives as the basis for experimenting with receiving more.

I'm excited about this program and its possibilities. I hope you'll join us!

 

Are You an Artist Who Gives, Gives, Gives?

When I was a child my mother once said to me, exasperated, "You can't save the whole world, you know!" Oh, but I tried.

Like many creative types, I was a sensitive kid. I wanted to fix everything. I wanted to make everyone happy, to make them smile, to take away their pain.

As a young adult, I spent many hours volunteering with a number of organizations, and even took a course called "Volunteering in the Community." Upon graduation I became a VISTA Volunteer (think domestic Peace Corps) for not one year of service, but two. Later, as a middle school teacher I brought students to tutor disenfranchised youth and to serve food in soup kitchens. I had them dumpster dive to find materials for an Earth Day-inspired "trashion" show. Later still I rescued an abused dog and took up fostering for a time, had Christmas parties where I asked folks to bring donations to the local shelter.

Through it all I was the friend who would listen to your drama, the one you could call at any time with any problem. I gave advice. So much advice. I was always there to "help." I was the employee that would settle for less so my employers could have more. I was the artist that gave her work away because she felt uncomfortable taking money when other people had nothing. Over and over again I relinquished my time, money, and energy in the spirit of "giving."

Guess what? I could not save the world. Surprise, surprise!

Turns out there's a reason the phrase "bleeding heart" exists. After years of giving, giving, giving - much of it with misguided intent - my heart felt drained. (So did my adrenals and my bank account!)

In short, I was tapped out. Fried. Toast. I mean, I even went to the doctor to get tested for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

It has taken YEARS of retreating, regrouping, and redefining myself to become rejuvenated again. I have learned the importance of balance and boundaries. I have learned that over-giving creates dependency and powerlessness. I have learned no one is going to value you and your time if you don't value it first. I have learned that money is an important and necessary tool.

Alas, old habits die hard it seems, because not long ago I felt the weight of a challenging situation in my life. I asked my Invisible Support Team (ie. guides, angels, dearly departed dog - you get the gist) to tell me one thing - just one! - that could change this situation in my life in a permanent and lasting way.

The answer was, "Let yourself receive."

In thinking about that nugget of inspiration I realized that many people confuse receiving with taking. Taking is greedy and selfish and comes from a place of fear. Receiving is natural, joyous, and comes from a place of empowerment. There can be no giving without receiving.

When we give without receiving we create imbalance.

With this in mind I have created a new online program that will allow me and a group of like-minded artists and "inner space explorers" to understand receiving in a deeper way, most especially in a way that shifts our thoughts and behaviors.

The Tao of Receiving program is a 40 day experiment that uses our own lives as Receiving Laboratories. It's designed to help you receive more - more love, more forgiveness, more money, more joy. You can find out all the details here.

If you can relate to my story about giving, giving, giving, I do hope you'll join me from May 24th to July 2nd, 2015 for this one-of-a-kind program.

In the end, when we give and receive equally and from a place of love, we are doing all of us a great service.

Photo Credit: Purple Rain/CC

 

Are You Leaving Enough White Space?

In the film industry when a producer, manager, agent (or, more likely, their assistants) receives a screenplay, the first thing they are said to do is flip through the pages looking at the ratio of white space to black text.

If there isn't enough white space the script automatically goes into the rejection pile. It sounds harsh, but it's for good reason since, generally speaking, one page of a screenplay is equivalent to one minute on the screen.

The white space shows the executive that the writer understands this tight, relatively unforgiving structure. It lets them know the writer did not succumb to flowery, descriptive language, that they likely didn't include a boatload of unimportant details, and that they didn't - God willing - meander.

In screenwriting and in life white space is necessary.

The presence of white space in screenwriting holds the promise of a focused, nuanced, yet engaging and entertaining script. It says, "I'm readable! I might even be a page turner!" That white space is breathing room. It's the pause between ideas, or the time jump between locations and scenes. White space is an exhale.

In life the white space reminds us that we cannot exist within the constant chatter of metaphoric black text. We cannot focus only on output and accomplishments. We must build in the pauses and breaks, because they allow us to rest and help us gather momentum to give birth to the Next Thing.

The birth metaphor is apt, because as with childbirth, we artists conceive, gestate, and labor. The white space is pregnancy, and it can't be rushed, hurried, or skimmed over. Yet, in our culture, we aren't taught to value the white space.

We are taught to be Productivity Machines, and, therefore, are prone to imbalance.

If you don't regularly step back and look at your creative practice as a whole, I recommend it. It's a living thing and it needs tending to. Ask yourself, "Am I leaving enough time in between? Am I exhaling? Am I balanced and focused?"

When we honor the white space we bring ourselves back to center and allow for a more fruitful creative life.

 

Don't Do What I Did

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table ptg

When I was a budding screenwriter I would do more than 20 revisions on a script before sending it to contests, managers, or production companies. Typically, professional screenwriters do 3 to 5 revisions before sending their work out. So even though I had to tack on some extra work for being a newbie, 20 revisions was total OVERKILL. It's no exaggeration to say that I spent years doing something that should've taken months. Instead of having 10 screenplays in my arsenal, I had 3. Some lessons I've learned in hindsight:

* Trying to make each work perfect is short-sighted. Instead of looking at your creative practice or creative career as a marathon, you're treating like a sprint. In doing so, you sacrifice the big picture for the small.

* The quest for perfection comes from a place of insecurity. We claim that we're only trying to "do our best," when really we're obsessively looking for flaws and missteps and systematically eradicating them in order to avoid the judgement of others.

* The most successful people abide by the rule of, "Done is better than perfect." Instead of giving in to the fear and mistrust of our own abilities, we have to retrain ourselves to do our best within the time, energy and expertise currently available then move on to the next so the work can continue to flow - and grow.

If you find yourself tending toward perfection more than completion take a look at your motivation. Is it driven by love or fear? If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't belabor my work. I'd have released it sooner rather than later and let it live on its own. Too many creative opportunities passed me by while I was searching for "perfection."

 

New Year, New You.

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 12.29.36 PMHow's About A Gift For You? A new year is upon us, so it's the perfect time to take stock of what worked in your creative life last year, what could've been better, and - most importantly - what you want to make happen in 2015.

I've made a 15 page playbook called "New Year, New You - A Creative Abundance Playbook" and I'm gifting it to all my creative cohorts! Just right click on the title and download away.

Wishing you nothing but love, peace, good health, and creative bliss for this year and beyond.

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All Creativelike: 6 Questions with Children's Book Author Anika Denise

I recently had the great pleasure of producing and directing the above book trailer for Anika Denise, a wonderfully talented and wise children's book author. We had a blast filming her delightful family (and - extra bonus - there was copious amounts of chocolate cake!) Anika wrote about the production experience on her blog here, and I'm thrilled to feature her here today as she answers six questions about creativity and business.

1) Anika, can you tell us a little about the creative work you do? I'm a writer—mainly of children's books, although I also write poetry. Picture books were a first love, and I continue to enjoy reading them, writing them and collecting them. I love the interplay between words and illustrations, the perfectly placed page turn, the wide open wordless spread, the economy of language, the rhythm and pacing. As an art form, picture books are unique to me and endlessly fascinating. I'm not a visual artist, but I think visually—and write that way—so perhaps that's why I'm drawn to the them. I also write early chapter books and middle grade novels.

2) How would you define creativity? Creativity is channeling the gifts within you, outward. It's energy. It's how you enter the world. It can be derived from joy, pain, grief, bliss—whatever, but creativity to me is the essence of an individual, put forth. Something of the person is then recognizable in whatever he or she has created.

Conversely, I think our creations shape us. We understand ourselves a little more. We grow and change through them.

3) What are your daily and weekly habits and practices? I'd love to be able to answer this question with a more assured "this is what I do regularly," but my life doesn't work that way right now. I have three kids, one not yet in pre-school, I'm married to a freelance illustrator whose schedule can be erratic and demanding, so I work when I can, for as much time as I can manage. I have an informal bargain with myself to write at least five days a week (which I routinely break). My writer's life is unbalanced at best, consisting of long stretches of productivity followed by just as long periods of distraction. I think the key is, I understand that this is a temporary situation, that my schedule will normalize as my children grow older, and the time for a more stable writing routine will come. In short, I don't sweat it. I congratulate myself on being able to create among the chaos! If I do anything with regularity it is this: when inspiration strikes, I give over to it entirely and enjoy the process. I get outdoors for a little while every day. I try to get enough sleep. I read. Books are vital. They're the air I breathe.

4) How do you handle the balance between the creative and business ends of things? That's a very timely question. I'm in the midst of launching a new picture book and doing everything I can think of to publicize it. Publishers' marketing budgets are shrinking, which means more of the promotion falls to the author. So, at this particular moment, it feels like the business end is eclipsing the creative side, but again, it's about acceptance. Giving my book a better chance in the marketplace is a worthy endeavor, and although it pulls me away from writing, it's what I have to do. Also, I feel like marketing is creative work and try to view it that way. The book trailer we did, for instance, felt very much like making art to sell art. I love that.

5) Any advice for aspiring children's book authors? Read as much as you can. Keep writing and finish, even if you feel it's not perfect, or needs work. Finish the draft. Join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and go to the conferences and local chapter events. Put yourself out there. Be fearless.

Practice, patience and perseverance rule the day in this business.

6) What's next for you? Next up is a picture book with HarperCollins Children's called, "Monster Trucks!" releasing in 2016. Until now, I've exclusively worked on books with my husband Chris. This will be the first one I do with a different illustrator, so it's a new experience for me. Nate Wragg, a visual development artist for Pixar, has signed on to illustrate. I'm excited to see how he brings it to life. Chris and I have another picture book in the works, and I continue to slowly develop longer works of fiction that I hope to have under contract soon. I just need to follow my own advice: be brave, and finish.

Anika Denise is the author of “Baking Day at Grandma’s,” (Philomel, 2014) “Bella and Stella Come Home,” (Philomel, 2010) and “Pigs Love Potatoes” (Philomel, 2007.) In 2016, HarperCollins Children’s Books will release her forthcoming title, “Monster Trucks!” Her books have been praised by Parents’ Choice Foundation, The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews and the Rhode Island Center for the Book. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Barrington, Rhode Island. For more information about Anika’s books, visit her website.

 

Why Don't Money and Creative People Seem to Mix?

closer headshotIt's a question I've been pondering for awhile. So I was thrilled when Ava Waits, an entrepreneur that I admire, asked me to be a part of her ongoing interview series about prosperity. It was the perfect chance to dig into this question.

On Thursday at 1:00 EST, Ava and I will be chatting about creative people and money, specifically about why creative folks are often broke BUT how they also hold the greatest prosperity potential (Yay!)

It's FREE to sign up (and you don't have to listen live as a replay will be sent afterwards.)

Topics of convo will be:

~ Why Creativity is Essential to Receiving Money

~ 6 Reasons Artists Reject Money

~ Easy Prosperity Practices to Up Your Money Mojo

Is it uncomfortable to talk about art and money? It sure is. But it's SO IMPORTANT, because when we don't have a good relationship with money it affects how self-expressed we are. Being fully self-expressed - the true mission of an artist - requires being unencumbered by fear, worry, doubt, and everything else that goes along with being broke.

Sign up here to join usThere is no catch. Just a good old-fashioned chat with two inspired gals!

If you want more info about clearing up your relationship with money, check out the Starving Artist No More E-course, Money Magnet Session, or the Prosperity Practices for the Creative Soul.

Also you can receive some free goodies when you sign up for All Creativelike newsletter HERE. (And don't forget you can find me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, Etsy, Instagram, Pinterest and Goodreads too!)

Revisited: 12 Ways to Kick Your Starving Artist to the Curb

As the one year anniversary of All Creativelike approaches, I’m revisiting some early content. This is THE most popular post I've ever written. Just a few weeks after launching this went viral. To date it's had almost 7,000 views, and has been shared by folks all around the world! Picture 16A dear friend visited me this week and the first thing we did, after securing our cozy corner table at the café, was launch into a conversation about her new boyfriend. (Yes, we are a cliché.) My friend mentioned that her new BF, a super talented artist, was having a lot of money problems, but had recently approached a buddy about going into business together. They were going to split all the profits 50/50 down the middle. When my friend pointed out to her new guy that he personally owned all $50,000 worth of gear they'd be using in this business and perhaps he should take a much larger percentage than his friend, he balked at her and replied, "That's not the way it is with artists."

OUCH. (interjection. See also: Ugh.)

You feel that punch in the heart? Yeah, me too. Because he's RIGHT. That isn't the way it is with artists, at least most of them. Most artists feel icky around money, especially when it comes to transactions with friends. Who am I kidding? Most artists feel icky about financial transactions with just about anybody, am I right? (That was rhetorical. We know I'm right.) Then we all sit around and wonder why we're always so broke and tired. Duh.

Here's the thing: we've been brainwashed, friends. Money is not the enemy. The enemy is LACK. Struggling to make ends meet is not helping your creativity in the long run, believe me. I speak from experience. Years upon years of financial struggle brought fatigue, sleeplessness, anxiety, ovarian cysts, broken relationships, and resulted in LESS creative work being made overall.

The great joke perpetrated on artists and creative people over the centuries is that money is evil and has no place in an artist's life. (Unless, of course, a Glamorously Wealthy & Eccentric Patron appears out of thin air, recognizes your unparalleled brilliance, and wants to fund your lifestyle. Um, good luck with that.) The cultural ideology that allows artists to feel noble in their poverty, while disrespecting the actual work they produce is, quite frankly, a bunch of bullshit. It's a scam, a sham and a fraud. The icon of the starving artist is an outdated model designed to keep us relegated to the margins. Imagine a world where artist and visionaries have true wealth. You can bet your butt this planet would be a lot different, a lot better, than the one we're living in.

Which is why I want you to make some money. No, not just "some money" actually, A LOT of money. Because you'll do good stuff with it.

Trust me, I know it's not easy to live in a society that devalues art. It's heartbreaking to have friends and family think what you do is frivolous. And it's disheartening to want more money, but have no idea how to make it. Even with all that junk and negativity, there are things we can do - that we NEED to do - to tip the scales in the other direction, the direction of money in your pocket.

So, without further ado, here are 12 ways you can change your mind about money and kick your starving artist to the curb.

1) Get better boundaries around money. Until you become financially solvent, stop giving your time, energy and skills away - to your friends especially. At the very, very least, set up a barter or trade. If you need to, tell your friends you're working on raising your wealth consciousness and need to decline collaborating with them until you get yourself in a better place. True friends will get it. When somebody approaches you about working together, ask them what the terms of the agreement are then practice this response, "It sounds good. Let me think about it and get back to you in the next couple of days." If, after a few days, it doesn't sound like something that's going to put money in your pocket, come back with a counter offer or politely decline. (I know, it sounds simple, but it's hard. Remember, practice makes perfect.)

2) Stop saying you "hate money." You really don't hate money. You hate greed. You hate conflict. You hate struggle. You hate manipulation. You hate racial and class divides. You hate worrying about money. Money is only paper that represents a trade of goods or services. Money is neutral. Changing the way you think about money is truly the first step in getting more of it.

3) Look to other artists who are doing it bigger and better. Can't figure out how to make ends meet? Find an artist you admire who does and study their behavior like a hawk. Look at their website, marketing materials, Twitter feed, daily habits, press and publicity, attitude, etc. Use them as a mentor and role model to help you live into a bigger, better vision of yourself.

4) Value yourself. Many people who are wiser than I have said it - there's a direct correlation between your bank account and your self-esteem. You have value. I don't mean that to be a sweet sentiment, I mean it literally. You have value, as in "monetary worth." Know it, believe it, practice it. And, no matter what anyone tells you, valuing yourself does not de-value others. It simply allows you to do what you came here to do - be a rock star creator who changes the planet for the better. Right?

5) Invest in yourself. This is like a zen riddle. "How can I invest in myself when I have no money?" The key is in understanding how investment works. It took me years to really get that true investment is not money that goes out into the world and doesn't come back like, say, the electric bill. True investment pays off beyond the original sum of money, and in a timely manner. When you, for example, enroll in a Photoshop class to hone your skills knowing it will get you more clients, that's a true investment. When you have a great idea for another short film, but lack an understanding of how that will further your creative career, that's not a true investment. It's an expense. (That one is taken straight from my personal history books. Ahem.) My largest financial pay-offs have followed investments I've made in getting more visible and more skilled in what I do, AND knowing that those investments would pay themselves back. It's about 1) taking the plunge even when you know you don't have the money right now, and 2) choosing wisely so the investment you make both takes you to the next level and expands your financial well-being.

6) Charge more for your work. If this blog post is resonating with you, chances are you're charging way less than what you should be. The trick is to know that about yourself. Here's an exercise: come up with the amount of money you're going to charge for your next book, or your next speaking engagement, or your new graphic design service and now raise it. Raise it until it's just outside your comfort zone, the place where you think to yourself, "I don't know, will people pay that??" The answer is yes. They will. Perhaps not your current clients, but certainly future ones, the ones you'd rather be working with anyway since they know the value of your work. (Hurrah!) Trust me, you will find people to pay you what you're worth. Once you raise your prices and see that people keep paying, you've successfully expanded your wealth consciousness. And by doing that you've helped pave the way to more income. Experiment with raising those numbers on a regular basis as your work gets more mature and your skill set grows. Employees at traditional businesses get raises every one to two years. Remember that you deserve one too.

7) Get clear about how much money you want. How much money do you want to make in the next year? If you don't know, find out! Start by figuring out your monthly expenses, multiply it by 12 to get your yearly expenses (include extra for unforeseen emergencies like car issues, computer failure, etc.) Then figure out the things you want this year, everything from more money for groceries to a painting trip to Italy. Add those two numbers together then divide by 12 to get your desired monthly income. Once you have that number, write out a plan as to how much artwork you have to sell, or performances you have to give, or services you have to offer every month to achieve that goal.

8) Cultivate faith. Even for people who have a spiritual belief system, faith can be hard to come by. The very act of doing it seems counterintuitive. "You want me to do something terrifying like spend money I don't have then pretend like it will all work out? Wha?" In my own personal experience, when I've acted on faith - that is to say, when I've moved forward in the direction of my dreams knowing that I would be taken care of even though I couldn't see how - it all worked out. Faith requires actively letting go of control and a constant commitment to trust. It's hard, nail-biting work. But, I've experienced faith as a state of being (beyond one's religious belief) that brings forth alignment, whether that be alignment with a new client, gallery owner or music gig. "Act as if" is the mantra to bear in mind when practicing faith. Give it a go, especially when you have nothing to lose.

9) Visualize having it. Again, wiser folks (such as Wayne Dyer, Shakti Gawain and, even, Albert Einstein), have more clearly articulated the whys and hows of visualizing. The gist is that picturing yourself, or your creative work, where you want it to be (instead of where it actually is) helps you in getting to that place. It's the practice of repatterning your thoughts to believe in possibility instead of lack. At the very least, this practice will make you feel good in your body. I love nothing more than waking up and thinking about my ideal writing studio. The sunlight, the white walls, the big windows, the bookshelves, the plants, and more. Instead of depressing me with a vision of what I don't have, it actually energizes me, and allows me to clarify the direction I'm heading in.

10) Remain active. Passivity and, even worse, resignation is the kiss of death. Stay active in your life. Don't have any money this week? Go into the basement and figure out what you can sell on Craigslist. Feeling terrified about looking at your credit card statement? Take a deep breath and open it. Write out a plan to pay it down. Do a Google search on "venues for potters" or "how to record your own album." Get out of the house and go to an artists happy hour or networking event. Keep living into possibility while you educate yourself. Whatever you do, don't sit around thinking money will fall from the sky or a knight in shining armor will save you. YOU are your own savior, and you have what it takes to get what you need. C'mon, be creative! If anything, you know how to do that.

11) Stop doing what you don't want to do. I'm not talking about the little things, like tackling that pile of dishes. I'm talking about those part-time jobs and financial obligations you took on "because you had to" or "because the money was too good to pass up." Those things you resent having to do, the things you loathe. Trust me when I say: it's not worth it. It's not worth what it does to your heart, mind and soul. Even if it is lining your pocket a little. There are other, better, ways to make money. FIND THEM. And quit that damn silly gig once and for all.

12) Know your big picture vision and make every decision with it in mind. This one took me years to get. I was so busy in my day-to-day struggles trying to make ends meet that I never stopped to think about what I really wanted in the big picture. What kind of lifestyle, what kind of artistic venues, what kind of spaces I wanted to live and work in, what kind of family I wanted to have, how I wanted my body to look and feel, who I wanted to spend time with in community. I'm talking about those things that add up to a satisfying creative life. When you take the time to get really clear about who you want to be and where, what, who you want to do it with, it will help you clarify every decision you're making right now. Because everything you're doing now informs who you are becoming and will be in the future. Go forth making bold decisions with Future You in mind.

So, how can you implement these ideas? I recommend getting a journal and using it daily to visualize, plan, activate and create more financial abundance in your life. I also recommend getting a creative buddy who's in the same position as you - broke, but dreaming of a better place - and scheduling a weekly check-in or meet-up with them. Working on any one of these things will help break the spell that's been cast on us, the one that has us believing poverty is romantic and real artists reject money. The truth is, real artists create great stuff no matter what their bank accounts look like. It's just that the ones who aren't desperate for cash all the time are having a MUCH better time.

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All Creativelike: An Interview with Poet Jennifer Lighty

jen2 There is not much I can say about my poet friend Jennifer Lighty that wouldn't be revealed by reading her words below - she is deeply soulful, articulate, dedicated, and a brilliant wordsmith. I thank my lucky stars for being in her bright, celestial orbit.

How do you define creativity? My hands in motion on this keyboard typing letters that signify sounds remembered in my body—that is creativity. And these letters that merge into words that my brain identifies with subjects seen, tasted, touched, smelled and heard, sounds I first heard when I floated in the dark inside my mother’s body.

We invent stories to make sense out of chaos, or to praise it, depending on which archetypal deity calls to our souls. We create. (Eros, the Greek god of desire and creativity was the son of the goddess Chaos.) When we create we reach into the dark, the womb, into this mystery, and manifest what we receive in the physical world.

Creativity is an everyday miracle like being born.

Tell me about the first poem you remember writing, or first experience where you felt you were "on" to something with words. The first poem I remember writing was in 4th grade. I was 10 years old. It was a haiku:

The old dead tree rocked dangerously, and with one last groan fell to the ground.

I remember being very pleased with it. I have no idea where it came from or what I felt like writing it, but I do remember afterwards that I knew I was a poet. I wanted to be a writer even before then, from the time before I could read. I wanted to read so badly I memorized books that my mother read aloud to me and pretended to read them as I turned the pages.

How does a poem get birthed? Are there stages as with a human pregnancy and birth? For me, there is a masculine and feminine element involved in the creation of a poem. It’s a matter of becoming actively receptive, of being open to both what is in my immediate environment and what wants to come through me from other realms.

Words feel so good when they rub together in certain ways! If I have an idea I want to convey without an image, I search for an image until I find one that feels right. It needs to be intelligible and pleasurable, by pleasurable I mean sound good. I do have to be careful of this though, I have such an attraction to beauty that I have sometimes done a disservice to my subjects by making them sound beautiful when they were not at all. In those cases it’s a matter of finding sounds that match the experience, ugly or harsh sounds, or playing with the punctuation or line break to break the rhythm up.

I also pay attention to where silence wants to enter the poem. Sometimes these silences say even more than the words.

I pay attention to all of these things—every word, line break, comma, period, italics, question mark—every mark on the page, in fact. I am getting better at hearing the line—where to break it so that it has the greatest emotional impact, because I have become better at hearing my own voice, and not the voices of all the other poets I’ve read or heard.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 10.13.13 AMYou work is deeply connected to both the earth and spirit. Can you talk about walking between these worlds and what inspires you? It’s not a matter of walking between earth and spirit for me, they are the same world. I am definitely inspired by Earth’s beauty. I want to praise that beauty. I also want to lament what we have lost and are losing as you read these words.

I also want to create a space for people to grieve their personal losses.

I wrote a poem about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown in which the natural world acts as a mirror for the loss of those children and teachers. It takes place on the oyster farm where I was working the day of the shooting and everything I saw that day—egrets, crabs, mud, sun, shells—was so deeply infused with the symbolic the earth became a mirror of what had happened, and a prayer to the spirit world to help us get through such a terrible tragedy.

I am inspired to create something as elegant and simple and gracious as an egret at the edge of a marsh. I want my evocation of that egret to open someone’s heart to a long-suppressed well of grief inside themselves. I want to write poems that help people grieve and become more fully present to the world, more compassionate for having suffered, and I know this is saying a lot—I want my poems, through the process I’ve just described, to inspire people to make choices that don’t harm themselves or Earth. I have a dread of being grandiose (probably because I am), but I agree with William Carlos Williams that, “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”

You not only write poems, but also books, blog posts, and articles. How do you determine which form the words want to be? It’s a matter of listening and intention. Sometimes the two merge—those are the best times. With a blog post, I intend. If I’m lucky I may come up with some poetic words, too! The three novels I wrote probably could have been written as short stories or poems, saving me many years worth of labor—I was just really fixated on the idea of being a famous novelist so I kept trying. My articles and essays are lyrical, but are also attempts to convey information or a story. This is also possible in a poem by the way, sometimes I just prefer the art of the sentence over the art of the line.

Poetry, the art of the line, is my greatest love because poetry has taught me to listen, not just to what I want to hear, but to what the Irish poet-hero Finn McCool learned to hear, “the music of what is.” When I listen to what is, I know what form the words want to be.

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What's the most exhilarating part of writing? The most exhilarating part of writing is when I enter into a state of being unaware of time.

What's the most challenging part of writing? The most challenging is letting go of my preconceptions, fears, and desires and letting the words tell me what they want. I call it finding the poem within the poem. I think this is easier for a lot of other writers, but for me it takes a lot of digging. Part of this is because I have a fear of being exposed, so it’s difficult for me to be vulnerable, which has led to some dishonest moments in past poems. I still have those dishonest moments, but I am better at catching them and work through them now.

I met the poet Ellen Bass this past winter. She writes with what I would call no filter about her personal life. I asked her what her relationship was like with her inner editor. Did she have to get past this editor to expose so much of herself? Her reply was enlightening and helpful—and humble. She replied that we’re all human and we’re all going through the same things. Those words helped me let go of a lot of ego and write more freely about myself, which ironically has helped me let go of the driving need to write about past personal traumas.

I don’t need to be witnessed in the same way any more, I witnessed myself. My vision has turned outwards.

Any daily or weekly habits and practices? I’m not good with routines, but I do write every day! I live in a stream of words and images that I try to write down as they occur. If I can’t give them my full attention at the moment, I tell them I will soon and ask them to please wait for me. I read all the time—poetry, fiction and non-fiction. And physical movement is an important part of my creative process—walking, dance, riding my bike, and yoga.

Advice for aspiring writers? That’s hard. There’s something about figuring it out for yourself as a writer that is just so important. I have an incredible teacher, a man named Fran Quinn. When I first started working with him it took me two years to finish one poem! This was after writing poems for 15 years or so. I was going crazy thinking I was the worst poet in the world, completely doubting myself. Finally, I started to have breakthroughs where I would understand some simple thing that would help my poems come closer to completion, and I would say to him, “Why didn’t you just tell me that a year ago?” He always laughed, somewhat demonically and certainly with delight.

He wanted me to understand it on my own because he knew then I would really understand it in my bones, the knowledge of where to break a line or when to use a four or three line stanza would come naturally to me because I had also learned how to set boundaries within myself. He was willing to be my guide in getting there, but I had to do the work.

So that, if you could call it advice, is my advice. Do the work on all levels. Let your poems and novels and essays teach you about yourself. What do you need to change within in order to bring them into the world?

If you listen deeply enough, if you are devoted and willing to work, they will not fail you. They want to be heard.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 10.22.20 AMJennifer Lighty is a poet and teacher living on Block Island, RI. Her poems and essays have been published in many journals such as The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Island Review, The North American Review, and Poet Lore. She was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the Beloit and for the Best New Poets 2014 anthology, and is the 2014 Merit Fellow in Poetry for the State of Rhode Island. Read more of her work and about her upcoming e-course developed to connect those on a creative path with earth-based spirituality on her website here.

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Revisited: 9 Reasons Why Artists Should Be Visible Online

As the one year anniversary of All Creativelike approaches, I'm revisiting some early content. This is a popular post from last June! Picture 2

There's one vision of an artist: a flamboyant, outrageous character seemingly on stage no matter where they are. And there's the second vision of an artist: solitary and sensitive, distrustful of people, living life with their head in the clouds. The truth of who we are as a collective likely resides somewhere  between these two stereotypes.

In fact, I'd be willing to bet most of us simultaneously want attention and find it uncomfortable. (Sound familiar?)

Visibility = attention. There's a difference between attention-seeking designed to feed the insecure ego, and attention-seeking that showcases one's passion and soul purpose. I'm talking here, of course, about the second type of attention, which allows us all to shine like we were meant to shine. (Oh, you didn't know you were meant to shine? Well, now you do.)

If you desire an art career, and not just an art hobby, then visibility is ESSENTIAL. With that in mind, I present 9 reasons why you, dear Brilliant Artist, should be visible online:

1. Grow your audience. The internet may seem like a vast, faceless blob of humanity from the outside, but once you truly engage with it you understand that it's a series of overlapping Venn diagrams of various tribes. Finding the right platform for your work - be it a documentary film site like Snag Films or online marketplace like Etsy - will connect you to an ever-growing tribe aligned with your creative vision.

2. Test new ideas. Those who went to art school know the value (and, okay, the pain) of regular critique sessions. Sometimes we miss being able to bounce an idea off knowledgeable folks, or gather intel on a new project. Being online, particularly on social media, also allows you to share works-in-progress. It gives you feedback while increasing giddy anticipation about the finished work.

3. Be part of a community. Some of you might be saying, "Community? That only happens in the real world." Sorry, but guess what? The internet is simply a space made up of humans who inhabit the "real world." I have a whole set of filmmakers and screenwriters in my online tribe. I not only know what they're working on, but I also know what they're going through. Having a global peer support system to share the trials and tribulations of the creative journey with is pretty flippin' amazing.

4. Make more money. This goes hand in hand with my first reason, "Growing your audience." There are myriad opportunities for connecting with people who want what you have to offer. A well-run Facebook page can sell more seats to your play or film screening. It can funnel people to your Etsy page or website. Twitter is a great place to pimp your crowd-funding campaign. Bricks-and-mortar only allows those who live closest to you to buy your wares, while the online marketplace is limitless. Bottom line: the more visible you are the more money you can make.

5. Practice getting outside your comfort zone. Some of us cringe at the thought of putting our work or, worse, a photograph of ourselves online. We feel judged and scrutinized so we avoid it like the plague. Besides, isn't promoting our own work, you know, SELF-CENTERED? I've found that anyone who worries about being self-centered usually isn't. Also, remember, you're trying to create a career not a hobby. And that means there's no boss paying you regular wages and benefits, no marketing team, no safety net. YOU are your boss and part of your job is to promote you so you can get paid and make a living. (More on that here.) Getting outside our comfort zone and putting our artwork online for viewing will get easier and easier. In the meantime, take that uncomfortable feeling and turn it into art.

6. Look like a professional. I don't mean professional as in "one who wears a suit and tie, while carrying a briefcase." I mean professional as in someone who takes their art and craft seriously. When you look like a professional you instill confidence in your audience, purchaser, or patron. Having worked with fine artists as a gallery owner, I can say that I was always more inclined to forge an ongoing relationship with someone who acted professional. It meant they were going to deliver their work on time and with an inventory slip and price list. Honestly, no one likes a flake, so why risk looking like one by having little to no web presence?

7. Opportunities, opportunities, opportunities. Beyond the aforementioned financial opportunities, there are many other opportunities that may seek you out when you have an online presence. Recently, a friend who makes silkscreened tote bags and tea towels was asked to illustrate the cover of a magazine. Another artist I know was contacted, out of the blue, by a film director to storyboard his new script. And, I was emailed recently by a fellow online artist about co-teaching a seminar. The more visible you are, the more likely opportunities will come your way.

8. Promote, and be promoted. One of the great things about being in a community of artists and art lovers is all the cross-promotion that happens. We each have our own audiences, so when you share info about another person's project you give them exposure and help position yourself as a resource. In turn, that person may promote your work to their tribe and help you increase your reach. "Win-win" is the name of the game.

9. Highlight importance of the arts in society. I am particularly passionate about artist visibility because I believe we are important members of society. The more we are seen, celebrated and supported, the more we contribute to a culture of art making. Your visibility contributes to a paradigm shift, one that moves artists from the margin toward the center. 

If you want to be more visible, but aren't sure where to start, I recommend a web page first, then online marketplaces (if appropriate), then social media. It takes time to build a following, so start with one step, then another, and another. Before you know it, your circle will grow wide enough to encompass folks around the world!

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How To Be an Inspiration Machine

9391593778_d2b6961ca7_bAh, inspiration. That abstract yet ultra-important thing that activates your heart space and jump starts your creativity. If you're anything like me, you make it a regular practice to seek out stories of inspiring people - people who endure challenging things with immense bravery, or who come up with clever solutions to impossible problems, or who entertain us in the most unique, uplifting ways.

When it comes to artmaking, inspiration is most often found in the works and words of others.

It's the turn of a phrase, the pinpointed observation, the juxtaposition of two colors coming up against one another, or in the brilliantly executed pirouette. Any of these things, and many more, help us get our creative juices flowing, so it's not a stretch to say that if it weren't for inspirational people, our lives and creative practices would be very much diminished.

So what does it take to become an inspiration? How do we act in ways that might fuel other artists?

What can we do to churn out such high levels of creative mojo that we become Inspiration Machines?

Here are a few behaviors and practices I've observed in those who lift me up. With a little patience and a lot of practice we just might get there ourselves.

Pay attention to your thoughts, then choose to speak and share only the ones that are purposeful and considered. The power of words cannot be underestimated when it comes to inspiration. Being a conscious editor - of our written and spoken words - is key.

Always tell people when they move, inspire, challenge and/or impress you. This one's easy. Simply put, it makes people feel good.

Regularly do things that tap into your joy and excitement. Let your bliss ripple out into the world. Others will feel it too.

Tell your stories of moving from struggle to triumph. They draw people in and make them feel less alone.

Share your good news from the heart. Sharing isn't bragging. Sharing is modeling; it's teaching; it's allowing others to be happy for you in the same way you're happy for them.

Look at yourself through the lens of a leader. Sometimes we need to "act as if," even when it feels far from the truth, because when we act as a leader it positively impacts our behaviors and actions, as well as provokes an inspired response from others.

Learn how to excel at something. Inspiring people are often dedicated doers. Commit to That Passionate Thing and keep going for it. Become a master, even if it takes a lifetime. No, ESPECIALLY if it takes a lifetime, 'cause what's more inspiring than that?

Fight the urge to complain by counting your blessings. In other words, "Promote what you love, instead of bashing what you hate."

Do things that scare you. Risk is an inherent part of inspiring others. It's the act of saying to others, "If I can do this, so can you."

Think of your whole life as one giant art project, one grand epic poem. Life IS art and when you look at yours through that lens, you're constantly thinking outside the box. Outside the box is EXACTLY where inspiration lies!

Remember that you, and everyone else you know, is going to die. Sure, it's morbid, but when we remember our fleeting journey 'round the proverbial sun it's easier to make meaningful choices about everything we do. Meaningful choices = inspiration.

What about you? How are you being an inspiration these days, or what more can you do to step into the role of Inspiration Machine? Don't be shy - tell me in the comments!

Photo by Martin Fisch//cc

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All Creativelike: An Interview with Illustrator Christopher Denise

C_DENISE_BIO_2 Christopher Denise is one of those enragingly talented people who makes, well, everything look easy - from making the artwork, to handling the business, to teaching about creativity, to being a dad. Since he was kind enough to share his truly wise insights about the creative process of illustrating books here today, I'll try not to stay too mad at him!

How do you define creativity? I try not to. It's too ephemeral, like trying to describe the gossamer wings of a firefly to someone that has lost their sight. The closest I could get is something like water formed by a breeze. I try to recognize it (creativity) in my own work and in the work of others. I know it when I see it. It looks and feels truthful, full of life, and made with care. Pretty broad, I know. Sorry!

When did you know that you wanted to be an illustrator? I really didn't know what an illustrator was until I transferred to RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) in the 90's. I always knew that I loved to draw, all kids do.

I just never let anyone talk me out of it and somehow made it into a life and career.

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What does the average day in the life of an illustrator look like? It looks pretty amazing from here and I am grateful for it! What an average day looks like depends, in part, on the season. I have been known to play hooky at a moments notice on one of those perfect Rhode Island beach-days. But we are talking averages here. 1.Most days start with the crazy bustle of getting three girls out the door to school/play-groups. Fueled by copious amounts of very good coffee. 2. A daily recap and, perhaps, some creative consultation with my often collaborator and amazing author wife, Anika Denise. 3. Out to the studio to review the production schedule and start sketching or painting on the morning's assignment. I break all of my projects into work units that can be moved around in the calendar. If a particular piece is calling to me I follow the energy and adjust the schedule later. 4. Break at about eleven o'clock to check email and take care of the social media component that has become an important part of my professional life. 5. A bit more drawing/painting here. 6. Inside for lunch with a game of Scrabble on the iPad, or a conversation with our youngest (3 years-old). The conversation tends to be pretty freeform and it is best to stay flexible. 7. More coffee, and back to the paintings. 8. Around 3-4 p.m. I will wander inside for a few minutes just to say "hi" to the kids and make sure everyone had a good day. 9. Painting until about 5:30. Anika is also an amazing cook, so I try to stay out of the way until I am needed. 10. Dinner, wine, laughs. One of my favorite parts of any day. 11. Dishes and homework help, if it is not all done. 12. Reading picture books to the little, putting her to bed, then reading a chapter from something longer for the older ones. Love this part as well. 13. I usually get back to the studio for another two to three hours. If I am on deadline, a bit more coffee here.

C_DENISE_ART_1What's your working process like? Do you read the book then start with an overall concept, then move on to specifics, or...? I would say that it is more overall to specific. I spend the majority of my time right now working on picture books so I will outline, in brief, that process. 1. I read the manuscript in hand a few times. I need to know that I will be able to connect with something in the story. 2. I begin to break it down into a book. The manuscript needs to work as a book. There are numerous ways that it can "work", but I need to be able to get a sense of at least one of those paths that it might take. 3. Sketching/thinking/looking at other books. 4. More of the above. 5. More of the above. 6. I create very rough scribbles for the entire book. Essentially, creating a book map. Notes included about color/light/references/music notes 7. More of #3. 8. Sometimes tighter sketches, and many, many changes along the way. 9. Painting, changing, repainting. I need to get going on something to see if it is working. Acting and re-acting. 10. Around this time I start painting like crazy with many pieces going at the same time. Always staying open to change with the incredible digital tools at my disposal. 11. While I am finishing up I am usually starting the process all over again with a new book and a new journey. A normal length picture book can take anywhere from 6-9 months.

How long did it take for your "style" to develop, and what did it take to get to that point? I am still developing my style, really. Each manuscript requires different things from me as an artist.

Writing is hard work, and I think it is a great disservice to both the author and their story for me to impose a particular style on a book.

C_DENISE_ART_2What are the most important considerations when translating the written word into visual imagery? A few things come to mind right away: Stay sensitive to the material. My job as an illustrator is to create a parallel emotional narrative. Be certain that my communication is clear: I am a visual communicator. I love pretty pictures, I love painting them as well! But my job is to communicate something about the story. If I am not doing that part of my job then it matters little how nice the picture looks. Trust your instincts and stand your ground when you need to. At the same time, listen to constructive feedback and see what works for the book.

Favorite artists or influences? A few off the top of my head for different reasons: N.C. Wyeth, Edmund Dulac, Pablo Casals solo cello recordings of the Brandenburg concertos (no offense to YoYo Ma who did a fantastic job with the material), Wes Anderson, Pierre Bonnard, Brad Bird, E.B. White, Monet, David Lynch, Isaac Levitan, J. F. Millet, The Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Beatrix Potter, Andrew Stanton, Neil Gaiman, Ernest Shepard, Harold Budd & Brian Eno, George Inness.

C_DENISE_ART_4 Any daily or weekly habits and practices? I try to start each session, each day as a novice. It helps me to stay sensitive and, in a way, helps take off the pressure. I also try to start each day as a beginner and allow myself to make mistakes. It keeps it interesting for me, and I grow as an artist.

Advice for aspiring illustrators? Besides marrying an investment banker with a penchant for the arts? Make sure that you love this job. It is really, really hard work and many wonderful artists can get run down and fall by the wayside. And that is fine - it's not for everyone. Having said that, it is one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable things you could do with your time. So if you are in love with it, then love your life, and trust your instincts. Don't let anyone talk you out of it!

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 10.08.20 AMChristopher Denise is an award-winning children’s book illustrator and visual development artist. His first book, a retelling of the Russian folktale The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, was pronounced “a stunning debut” by Publishers Weekly. Since then, Chris has illustrated more than twenty books for children, including Alison McGhee’s upcoming Firefly Hollow, Rosemary Wells’ Following Grandfather, Phyllis Root’s Oliver Finds His Way, his wife Anika Denise’s Bella and Stella Come Home and some in Brian Jacques’ acclaimed receive series. His books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list and have been recognized by Bank Street College of Education, Parents’ Choice Foundation, and the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition. He can be reached through his website or Facebook page.

Photo credits (in order): Anika Denise, Corey Grayhorse Photography, From Sleepytime Me by Edith Fine (Random House Kids, 2014), From Following Grandfather by Rosemary Wells (Candlewick Press, 2013), From Sleepytime Me by Edith Fine (Random House Kids, 2014), From Baking Day At Grandma's by Anika Denise (Philomel Books, 2014)

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10 Steps to Take When You're Having a Money Drama

321938695_42f2f76734_bIt happens. You forget to pay a 0% credit card bill on time and now your interest rate has gone through the roof. You didn't anticipate your car breaking down, nor the subsequent whopper of a repair bill. You spent the fat paycheck from that last art sale on rent, but now the client wants to return the work. When that stuff happens and we get sent into a tailspin, it's a MONEY DRAMA. None of us are immune to these sorts of things, since life is chock full of unanticipated happenings. But unlike other out-the-blue occurrences, money dramas seem to really knock us off our feet and bring up all sorts of fears.

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to help us go from full throttle Money Drama Panic to calm and centered action.

1) Get Grounded. As mentioned, money dramas cause reactions (panic, anger, sadness, etc.), so the first the first thing to do is ground your energy. Take a few minutes to be alone, quietly, so you can ground and center yourself. This might include deep breathing, journaling, walking in nature, or anything else that brings you back to center.

2) Remind Yourself That You Can Handle This. Shift your thinking from panic to possibility by reminding yourself that you are capable of handling this problem with ease and grace. Saying things like, “Even though I feel panicked about this situation, I know I will find a way to resolve it,” or “I have been in tough spots before and I’ve always gotten through them. This is an opportunity for me to use my creative power to create a new, improved situation for myself.”

3) Set your Intention. Before getting into action, set your intention to help create the outcome you want. I usually say something like, “I intend for this situation to be resolved peacefully and easily.” “I intend for X to receive their money by the agreed upon deadline in a way that is easy and simple for both of us.” This may sound pretty woo-woo (and it is!), but it's also a powerful tool that clarifies for both yourself and the Invisible Powers That Be just exactly what you want to attain and in what manner.

4) Visualize. What does the resolution of this money drama situation look like? Figure that out, and then take some time to visualize it. Does it look like mailing next month’s rent? Does it look like finding your lost wallet? Take time to get clear on what resolution looks like. Just like setting intentions, visualizing is a powerful tool that sends a signal out to the universe relaying exactly what you want. It can then assist you in bringing you that.

5) Brainstorm Actions. Make a list of all the ways you can take action to resolve the situation. Don’t edit the list, just put all the possibilities out there. Think on people who may support you, or tools you could use, etc.

6) Prioritize and Take it Step by Step. Move forward toward resolution by being in action. Take one step at a time with the most important action item being handled first. Hard as it can be, don't shrink, procrastinate, or avoid getting into action when it comes to money dramas. They won't resolve on their own (trust me!)

7) Call in Support if Need Be. Whether you need emotional support, or actual tangible helping hands, consider asking for help if you need it. It's far too easy for folks to feel shame, embarrassment, or pride when dealing with money dramas, but truly EVERYONE has experienced them before. Knowing you're supported can make a huge difference to your state of mind, which, in turn, makes a big difference on the outcome.

8) Stay Focused on Big Picture. Know that this is a blip on the screen of your life. This situation will pass just like all the other challenges have passed. When you are dedicated and focused on healing your money drama and stepping into abundance, these situations will become fewer and farther in between. And, they will tend to move through more quickly as you engage your inner technology and outer action steps.

9) Fearless Self-Searching. Once your money drama resolves itself take some time to reflect on how and why the situation came to you. Ask yourself, “In what ways was I responsible for creating this situation?” “How can I alter my thoughts, behaviors or actions so that this situation does not happen again?” “Is there anyone that I need to communicate in a more clear and direct way?”  “Is there a system I can put in place to avoid this money drama in the future?” Using your money drama as a teacher, will serve you well in the future.

10) Get Empowered. Use this opportunity to step up your game. Take a money class, or enlist the help of an accountant, open a savings account, etc. Setting yourself up for success before a problem arises will help move you through them with ease and grace next time around.

Sure, it takes practice to slow ourselves down and reassess when freaking out, but with some dogged diligence you can find peaceful resolutions and redirect your energy toward something much more important and productive - being an artist.

Friends, click on if you want to read more about Art and Money.

Photo by Nate Steiner//cc

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New Artist Manifesto Prints Have Arrived!

ZAP! Brandy new artist manifesto prints are up in the All Creativelike Etsy shop and they're electrifying! This fella here is white text on a black background as such: black print unframed

And this lovely lass is a clean, minimal black text on white background. KAPOW!

white print unframed

All artist manifesto prints are just $12 and available to be shipped just about anywhere on this wondrous planet. Click here these and other inspirations for your creative life.

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Revisited: The Most Important Thing I Know About Creativity

As the one year anniversary of All Creativelike approaches, I'm revisiting some early content. This is the first post I ever put up! marksmonkeyembrodOne time, many years ago, my friend's seven year-old son was taking a bath and began to scream for his mother. She ran in to find him with a frantic look on his face.

"Mom, I need paper and a pen! I feel a poem coming on!"

Understanding the importance of this request, my friend dashed to the other room, grabbed the requested materials, and began to transcribe the poem as it tumbled from her son's lips.

I've always loved this story. Not just for the characters involved - and, trust me, they are characters - but for the truth it tells about the creative process. Our creations are not made by us, so much as they come through us.

I had a similar experience when I was five years-old. My first poem came out of me in one solid lump, transcribed onto a white pad with a sky blue crayon. I can remember staring at it for a long time, feeling surprised. I remember thinking, "I didn't write this." And, I remember also thinking, "This is really good." I still have it memorized:

Oh, so high in the sky the birds fly. Down to the ground, and up with a bound, Oh, so high in the sky.

Not bad for a five year-old who had never taken a writing class, right?

I feel fortunate that this happened at such a young age. That experience holds a valuable lesson, one I return to again and again. It is the single most important thing I know about creativity: that if we step aside and allow ourselves to become a clear channel the work will flow through us. The act of creation will be more like watching a film unfold and less like a wrestling match where two opponents beat the hell out of one another and no one's quite sure who's going to win.

If you find yourself feeling frustrated, stuck or joyless in the creative process, return to this simple place of allowing. Let the creation reveal itself.

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All Creativelike: An Interview with Musician Allysen Callery

Kiel3Allysen Callery is an earth angel. Her lyrics, melodies, and haunting voice are truly unique and special. What's more, Allysen is a kind and thoughtful human. Man, some folks have all the luck!  Read on to find out more about Allysen's songwriting process, creative influences, and what it was like playing at the esteemed South-by-Southwest music festival this year. How do you define creativity? I don’t. I think that’s anti-creativity.

Where does your songwriting inspiration come from? I get inspired every time I learn a new chord, or open tuning. I’m still learning, even after 15+ years of playing guitar. The melody comes, and the words follow. But sometimes it’s the other way around.

Can you remember the first time you had an experience with music? I was a toddler in Taiwan. My parents were there because of the Vietnam war. My father was a medic. Music was a part of our living space, and I first noticed where it came from by seeing that Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles was coming from a reel-to-reel.

Tell me about writing your lyrics vs. developing melodies? I was a poet before I became a songwriter. I don’t worry about hooks and choruses so much. I want to tell a story, and I want to make you feel and be transported. Melodies just come when I'm playing around on guitar. But the words and music come from someplace other than just me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5zEXZezoXM

What have you been working on lately? I've been lucky to have been recorded lately by the great Bob Kendall, who also laid some production over my songs "for fun." The result was a session for Folk Radio UK that's gotten over 4,000 plays in the last month. I am going to be recording a British Isles covers EP for a UK label, and working with Bob for that, as well. I cannot wait. (Here the session here.)

Favorite artist or influence? Oh boy, so many. I was heavily influenced by all the wonderful artists my parents listened to:  Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, The Incredible String Band.  I learned how to sing by listening to Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention and Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span. Lately I have been really loving Jessica Pratt out of San Francisco. And, Anne Briggs really inspires me.

You recently played South-by-Southwest. What was that experience like? I was very well taken care of at my first "South By."  I was lucky to have caught the ear of someone in a senior booking position, and he made sure I was given extra performance slots and all my showcases were in nice hotels. I made a few wonderful connections, and was written up and ranked highly in the Washington Post. I also made NPR Bob Boilen’s list of Intriguing Unknown Artists.

Any daily or weekly habits and practices? I’ve been posting homemade recordings on my Soundcloud page about every week, some covers and demos that may or may not make it onto an album at some point. I am not a very regimented person, but I try to play guitar every day, and am playing one or two shows every week. I still have a day job, and will probably always have one - I like to pay my bills on time!

Any advice for aspiring musicians? Practice. Be better than you thought you could be. Take risks, you should be frightened what people might think of your art. Don’t try to fit in. Don't try to play it cool. Answer emails. Be kind to everyone. Don’t let anyone other than you define who you are. Get nice head shots. Get a real website. Keep a part-time job that you don't have to get up too early for, that is not too physically demanding, so you can still play shows within a one to two-hour driving radius throughout the week. Officially release music every year. Upload new content weekly. Don’t get hung up on perfection. Pursue the press. Be true to your self, and your vision - you are unique and the world is wide, you will find your peeps, your tribe. They might be sprinkled around the globe, but that’s why the Internet is so awesome.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 12.05.01 PMAllysen Callery is an alternative folk artist from Rhode Island, USA, with an intricate & unique finger style, and a voice that has been called mesmerizing and angelic. Growing up in New England, she was heavily influenced by her parent's British Isles Folk Revival records of the late 60's early 70's. She can be reached via her website here.  (Photos by Gerd-Michael Tuschy)

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Hey Artists, How's Your Website Looking?

7104385281_fca9821914_bFor artists, writers, and creative folks, a website is the portal to showcase their creative work, so it's one of the most important tools needed for a healthy and robust career in the arts.

Many times websites get stagnant or cease to reflect the quality of the artist's work. Sometimes they were never quite right to begin with - too much text, poor quality images, lack of information, and cluttered graphic design, among other things, can poorly reflect on a creative person.

With that in mind, here's a checklist to help you give your website a tune-up if need be!

ARTIST WEBSITE CHECKLIST ___ Does the graphic design on your site reflect the tone and style of your creative work? ___ Do you have a current bio on the site? ___ Is there a headshot of you to go with the bio? ___ Is your news section updated regularly? ___ Is it easy for people to find out how to contact you? ___ Are the images/excerpts/samples of your work current? ___ Is the layout clean and readable? ___ Is it easy to navigate the site? ___ Are all the images on the site high quality? ___ Is all the text and copy short, snappy, and compelling? ___ Do you have your social media buttons with links on the site? ___ Have you tested your site on multiple browsers as well as on a mobile phone? ___ Do you feel proud/happy/joyful when you look at your website?

If you're feeling overwhelmed, enlist support. Hire a graphic designer or web coder to tweak and update it for you. If that's not possible, consider using a free site like Wordpress (what I'm using), Wix, or Squarespace to create a site that can be self-maintaining. Just make sure the final product is creative and professional - like you!

Photo by Kitty Kaht//cc

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