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A DIY Guide to Art Therapy

Photo by StockSnap
Art is not an amusement, nor a distraction, nor is it, as many men maintain, an escape from life. On the contrary, it is a high training of the soul, essential to the soul’s growth, to its unfoldment. ~Lawren Harris

Have you ever felt anxious about starting open-ended tasks?

Do you feel lost without a step-by-step guide for new projects?

How about a blank canvas? Does it throw you into panic mode?

Regrettably, this has been the story of my life.

Getting the perfect shot as a portrait photographer, creating a flawless website as an Internet marketer or even seeing a blank canvas in an art class — any new endeavor that had no template would make me panic.

Your Guide to Fun in 4 Steps

Photo by Ernest Iannelli
Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun. ~Randy Pausch

A few months back I went to a friend’s birthday party. We grilled, chatted and played board games, among other things. When I returned home, I said to my husband, “I had so much fun tonight!” I was sort of stunned by the fact for days.

What struck me was that I had spent years before going to parties, hanging out with people and spending time on my own without having fun. If I looked back, most of the time I was supposed to be having a good time, I was worrying about something I’d done wrong or how I’d get something done later. It was a rough way to live.

It was when I started my own business that I understood this habit I had. I had no idea how to live in the present moment. And when you’ve just invested your time, energy and cash into a business you don’t know will work, it’s nice to have an outlet. I finally realized I needed to find a few I could lose myself in.

I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one who struggles to have fun in the way we’re meant to — losing yourself in the moment, laughing until your stomach hurts or just feeling so content you haven’t looked at a clock in hours.

I think, sadly, many of us never learn how to do this as children. Our lives may have been filled with chaos or been too rigorously scheduled.

4 Tips to Develop Your Intuition

Photo by EightEightNineFourSixFour
The only real valuable thing is intuition. ~Albert Einstein

When I was a child I would hear a soft slow voice inside me, whispering dreams and ideas, telling me possible problems I could encounter and solutions to issues I was facing.

The problem was that it scared the daylights out of me. I would shake my head, trying to get the voice to stop. I’d wonder what on earth was wrong with me. I didn’t tell a soul, for fear that I’d be seen as crazy, or worse, possessed by some demon I could not control.

I successfully suppressed this voice, but as I got older, I began to reap what I had sown. I didn’t realize that years of ignoring and shaming the voice inside me would lead to unhappiness: divorce, alcohol abuse and all the meaningless relationships that come with that sort of lifestyle.

It wasn’t until I felt completely alone, depressed and untouchable that I started to pay attention to that voice again. It came back to me in little ways. I noticed it was much easier to hear when I did certain things, like exercise or write. So I started to do those things more often.

After more than seven years of intentional work to be more in tune with my intuition, I trust myself. I feel like I am able to make choices that best suit my life. I even can hear when I need to make an unpopular choice, bring up an uncomfortable topic or just walk away from a situation, regardless of how weird it might seem.

3 Tips for Keeping a Journal

Photo by John O'Nolan
People who keep journals have life twice. ~Jessamyn West

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who said she wanted to keep a journal. She’d read that all successful people have that in common. Later on that day I saw an Internet meme that said exactly that. Afterward I realized how many people in my 30 Day Challenge group have wanted to write every day as their challenge.

On and off since I was about fourteen, I’ve been keeping a journal. But it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago I started writing consistently — three pages, every day.

I’ve noticed that not only has my writing improved, but I have way less anxiety and my depression has become a lot less pronounced. It’s become part of my routine for self-care.

Many people struggle to keep a journal and write habitually, but it is pretty simple once you have the hang of it. I’ve found that remembering a few things can help you get into writing every day and I want to share them so you can reap the benefits of journaling.

How to Unlock Creativity

Photo by Gert-Jan Mes
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. ~Brené Brown

I have always wanted to be an artist.

I deeply admired the lives of the painters, the writers, the firestarters, the life wranglers. I longed to be one of them.

I longed to fiercely create, to share my voice boldly, just like they did.

However, for most of my life, I never felt creative.

I remained behind the scenes, insecure in my voice and expression, disempowered. I looked longingly at the ones who shared themselves freely — the ones that created art, who were improvisational, messily graceful and who loved wildly.

Flow – The Secret to Happiness

Flow is the natural, effortless unfolding of our life in a way that moves us towards wholeness and harmony. ~Charlene Belitz & Meg Lundstrom

The majority of the books that sit on my shelves are ones that I have read, or deliberately decided not to read after losing interest after a page or two. So I was a little taken aback when I found one sitting smack dab in the middle of various dog-eared novels that I hadn’t read yet—The Power of Flow.

In all likelihood it was a transplant from my parent’s extensive self-help collection, one that must have snuck into one of my boxes. Yet, I hadn’t noticed it until I was—conveniently—experiencing stagnation in many areas of my life.

I’d say this is what “divine timing” is all about.

I spent the next few hours swimming in the pages, recalling all the times in my life when things seemed to fall in to place and doors opened without any physical effort on my part–the times when I was completely and totally “in the flow.”

How to Come Alive

Photo by Rosie Hardy
Editor’s Note

This is such a simple, elegant and inspiring article. Make sure to give this a read. You'll be glad you did. :)

Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. ~Howard Thurman

No quote has ever had more of an impact on me than this one.

When I first read it, I was working in the accounting department of a government contractor in Virginia. I was commuting back and forth to the 3-bedroom house on ½ acre that I’d just bought and I was doing it in a sporty little Mazda 626.

I was making a respectable salary. I had parlayed my college degree into a “successful” career, and I was understandably proud of myself.

But I was not alive.

I was just one of hundreds of thousands of bean counters who sat in traffic a couple of hours a day to get to a cubicle in a maze of other cubicles to sit for another 8 to 10 hours a day trying to make numbers add up.

Why I Write

Photo by the talented Wynona Grey. See more of her work on flickr.

To me, writing is not work. Writing is like dancing with Existence, with Spirit, with God. It’s beautiful and precious. I get more satisfaction and energy from writing than I do from a few extra hours of sleep. Seriously.

Some days, when absorbed in the moment of writing down a stream of thoughts, I lose track of time, and I skip sleep altogether. And I function fine the next day–only with a bigger smile.

Sometimes a string of words will hit me so strongly that I will sit in front of the computer bawling. I cry, not because I am sad, but because I’ve experienced such intense joy that it moved me to tears.

Writing is just one form of creative outlet. I am no more qualified to write than you. And usually, as I relax and flow with my stream of consciousness, and write down whatever comes to mind, the result is surprising to me too. I am just a messenger after all.

Limiting Beliefs

Photo by Gala Darling

I never know what I’m going to write until I actually sit down to write it. Actually, the less I think about it, and just allow myself to relax into the flow, the better the writing usually takes shape.

My state of mind has everything to do with the quality of the final result. Thus, the lack of writing produced in the first 10 months of 2010 – as I was recovering and overcoming post-partum depression.

The biggest gift I received from the Good Mood Blogger contest was, that in entering it, a mental shift took place in me that pushed me over the edge of the mental blockage I was “stuck” in. And for that, I felt like a winner from the very beginning.

The mental blocks (aka. Limiting beliefs) we experience in life – not just in writing, but with taking action toward goals we want to accomplish – can have a detrimental effect which dramatically change the stories of our lives.

How to Wake Up Inspired …

Photo by Simón Pais

Inspiration is typically viewed as something that comes and goes. Some days you “feel it” more than others.

But what if you could be deeply and unconditionally inspired everyday? I bet it would make a difference in the quality of your life. You would probably wake up excited to start your day. You’d get more done, be more creative and feel more of that elusive “flow.” Being inspired also means enjoying the process more, instead of feeling forced and unnatural.

The best part of persistent inspiration is that action tends to be effortless. There isn’t so much trying, rather you’re more simply being and allowing whatever action is natural to flow out from you.

Most of us just wait for inspiration though. We passively anticipate our muse, instead of actively seeking it out.

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
~Jack London

I’ve been experimenting with something different for a while, purposefully taking responsibility for being inspired. For a while I didn’t know if it would work. Inspiration is kind of an elusive phenomenon after all. And even if you choose to look for inspiration, does that mean it will come?

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