Saturday Gratitude #10

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a Saturday Gratitude post and it’s really time for another. The past few weeks have been kind of insane around here, in mostly good ways. But my HSP introvert self has been desperate for a little solid downtime, which, thankfully, I am able to have this weekend.

So here are some things I’ve been grateful for since my last Saturday Gratitude post:

1) My “senior” cat (the vet says he’s a senior, but Sullivan doesn’t agree with this at all) came through his dental surgery just fine, minus three teeth. The couple of days after were no fun for any of us around here, but on the third day he was back to his shelf-climbing, window-gazing, chattering-at-birdies self. Pheewwww. I’m grateful to the folks at Prairie State Animal Hospital for giving him extra love.

(Quite inexplicably, he’s still hanging out in the cat carrier, apparently no longer relating to it as an instrument of doom.)

catcarrier

2) I participated in Kristin Noelle’s I Choose Authentic Joy Healing Wave, and we had a number of wonderful conversations in the Facebook group, including one about gratitude. I’ve signed up for a number of Kristin’s Healing Waves and they truly inspire me; if you’re not familiar with her terrific artwork, do check her out!

3) Last Sunday, I gave a presentation to Chicago IONS on “Time and Conscious Doing.” We talked a lot about how our thoughts can give us this (false) idea that there isn’t enough time, and how we can choose to create and take action from a feeling of “enough”. I was so grateful for the deep participation in the exercises and insightful questions from the audience, and to those who came up afterward to continue the conversation.

4) Squirrel monkeys! My boyfriend and I rewarded ourselves for work completed by taking a trip to Brookfield Zoo, and there are now squirrel monkeys in Tropic World, swinging like they own the place and have always been there (though what happened to my beloved capuchins?). Monkeys continue to be a kind of power animal for me, reminding me that I am always inspired when I focus on play, curiosity, and hanging out upside down (if only metaphorically).

What about you? What are you grateful for today? I’d love it if you’d share, in the comments.

Top image © Dr_harry | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Starting 2013: The Bitter and the Sweet

The tree; the culprit.

The tree; the culprit.

I’m welcoming the New Year a few days late, thanks to getting hit with the flu just as the old year was ending.

As usual, I don’t want to take down my Christmas decorations. Sometimes, I love the after-Christmas “hush” more than Christmas itself. I like to sit in my dining room and stare at my little three-foot fiber optic Christmas tree on its table in the corner, where it has sat for the past seven Christmases. I like to reflect and be still, preferably with a manageable coating of snow outside, to make everything sparkly and glistening.

But this may be my little fiber optic tree’s last year of service. Because of:

The Bitter

Eight days ago, while I lay half-asleep in bed and the flu wormed its way through my body and I flashed hot, cold and sweaty, there was a crash in the dining room.

My cat, ever-fascinated with my little Christmas tree, had jumped up on the table, gotten scared by the aluminum foil I’d put around the base of the tree for the sole purpose of keeping him away, and bolted, bringing the tree down with him.

“Good God, no,” I thought. “Don’t do this to me today, when the ibuprofen hasn’t even kicked in yet.”

I shuffled into the dining room and the tree lay on the wood floor like a slain animal, ornaments rolling in all directions. My cat lurked in the bedroom doorway, surveying the destruction with rapt curiosity, as though he had no part in it.

At first I thought that, amazingly, no ornaments had been broken. Everything seemed to be intact. But then, the carnage came into focus: a red flocked deer leg, delicate and tiny, lay on the floor a few inches from the tree. It was from my very favorite ornament ever — my vintage deer with the white wreath around its neck.

“No!” I moaned, cradling the tiny leg in my palm. “No!”

But more carnage was revealed: the Puss ‘n Boots ornament my boyfriend gave me for Christmas last year was smashed to pieces. A paw here, a boot there, his sword flung all the way to the kitchen doorway.

I cleaned up the mess, sweating and shaky. By the time I talked to my boyfriend, I had accepted that things I love had been ruined. Puss ‘n Boots, at least, was beyond repair.

And, I discovered later, the tree no longer lights up.

“That is so terrible,” my boyfriend kept saying into the phone. “That is so terrible.” He’s very into Christmas ornaments, and he’d helped me decorate the tree.

His reaction helped me put things into perspective. It was disappointing, but not terrible. My good friend’s dog had passed away unexpectedly just a couple of days before, and I stared at my little twelve-year-old kitten culprit and felt such deep gratitude that he’s healthy enough to wreak havoc with the Christmas tree.

Fast forward several days, to:

The Sweet

I read a beautiful, magical short story by Kij Johnson, called “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss.” Of course, it’s a fact that I am completely obsessed with monkeys, but I don’t love this short story just because of the monkeys. I love it because it reminds me of how the everyday and the tragic are always, always, interlaced with the magical and the mysterious, if we look closely enough.

And: New clients to begin the New Year, clients whose authenticity, brilliance, and willingness to go there remind me of why I wanted to become a coach. Thank you, brave souls.

And: I’m flu-free!

I hope that you, too, are starting the New Year with hearty glimpses of health, magic, brilliance, and bravery.

What Makes You Want to Create?, a.k.a. Monkey Energy!

During my “dark night of the soul” period several years ago when I felt profoundly uncreative, I started thinking about what it really is that causes me to want to create. I noticed that certain things — watching a sparrow splash around in a puddle while I took my morning walk — truly lit me up, while other things — believing my novel needed to be “serious literature” — felt dull as a dishrag.

I realized that “Art with a capital A”, as Julia Cameron puts it in “The Artist’s Way,” felt like a big drag to me. I’m interested in the ordinary. I’m fascinated by the ordinary. Or maybe a better way to put it is, one of my gifts is seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary.

I love to write, but I get turned off by “literary discussions.” I am interested in the craft of writing — what makes a piece of writing strong, what makes it sing off the page — and I am very interested in writers, their thoughts, joys, and struggles — but I’m not interested in keeping up with what’s going on in the “literary world.” I don’t consider myself an “Artist with a capital A.” I don’t think artists are “special.” Artists are human beings, reflecting the human experience.

Maybe that’s why during the past year I’ve developed such a fascination with monkeys, which I wrote about previously. Monkeys are very human-like, but, well, they’re not human. And because they’re not human, they don’t take themselves that seriously. And, as Havi Brooks pointed out so eloquently here, they don’t care if anyone else takes them seriously.

What lights me up these days? If you’ve talked to me at any length lately, you probably already know: Crystal the Monkey. I feel nothing short of giddy when I think about Crystal. Why? Because she is who she is. Monkeys can’t help but be exactly who they are. And that’s what gets my creative juices flowing: being exactly who I am, and reveling in the joy of others being exactly who they are.

My friend and fellow coach Melissa Wirt said to me a while ago, “How can you approach your business with monkey energy?” I couldn’t stop laughing, because she so hit the nail on the head — it was exactly the question I needed to hear. (And that’s what a good coach does, asks you that “just-right” question. Often, you can tell it’s the just-right question because it gives you a massive case of the giggles).

What makes me feel creative? Embracing my own “monkey energy.” In fact, I would venture to say that when we are exactly who we are, we can’t help but create. Creativity comes to us as naturally as breathing when we are true to our very own natures, whether we are monkeys or just lowly humans.

I hear a lot of creators saying, “I should be creating more.” I’m going to suggest we take the “should” out of the equation. What makes you want to create? What makes your heart sing, what makes you giddy, what can’t you stop talking about even when you wonder if people are rolling their eyes at you? Can you get really specific about it? Start from there.

By the way: I do have a special — free! — offering coming up, as promised in my last post. If you’re feeling “creatively stuck,” this is for you. Stay tuned for more info!

And: I offer ongoing free Creativity Consultations. You can read about them here.

I think this macaque is wondering what he'll get into next. It's a great thing to wonder about.

 

Image is MONKEY © Alexey Arkhipov | Dreamstime.com

Just to get things flowing … monkeys!

My blog is going through some changes, as I’m refining my focus a bit. I’ll be back soon with a new blog name and a little bit of a shift in content (though good ol’ perfectionism and procrastination will still get their due).

For now, I’m thinking about what Martha Beck calls “the urge to merge.” It’s when you’re suddenly completely fixated on and obsessed with a thing, or a person, or an animal, or a piece of art. And the question to ask is, what is it about this thing (or person or whatever) that I love? Urges to merge usually come into play when we are undergoing a shift in our lives, from one place to another, one identity to another.

Objects of my recent urges-to-merge have been the documentary Grey Gardens (couldn’t stop watching it for months), the awesome mockumentary Summer Heights High (ditt0), and, right now, monkeys. Like this monkey. And this one. And here’s another one.

What is it about monkeys that has me so obsessed? I don’t really feel like thinking about it. But if I had to guess, I’d say it’s that they’re silly, they’re cute, they do bad things, they’re little athletes and dancers, and they’re just crazy. I’m not sure yet what this means for me, and it’s good not to analyze too much, but surely it means something.

I’d love to hear about your urges to merge.

Image is “Lucky Monkey Caught the Fly”
© Evgene Gitlits | Dreamstime.com