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


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.