Tag Archives: kaizen-muse creativity coaching

coaching the creative

Years ago, when I signed up for Jill Badonsky’s Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching program, it was largely a form of self-service : I needed to gather together and implement a set of tools in my creativity arsenal so that I could continue tapping into the parts of myself that I knew I was here to not only exercise but express to the world.

Earlier this week I commented in my little co-admined (with Kim and Lisa) Facebook art group, Salon des Muses, that getting artists to collectively do anything is a little bit like herding goldfish. You can say your piece and suggest… and the rest is pretty much up to the universe and each individual artist to take note of and follow… or not.

The same can be said of the artist’s creativity, too. Ever try herding goldfish? Me neither, but the only way that they seem to be remotely interested in being led to a specific area of the pond is if they are enticed by something yummy that they simply can’t resist partaking in.

Herding the Artist
Creative types are notoriously resistant to being told what to do. In fact, the more you insist on telling them what they should be doing, the more they will blow you off. Well-intentioned advice will oftentimes fall on deaf ears and achieve the opposite result. So how does one get around that?

1. Engage innate intelligence.
The mind loves a good puzzle. Ask it enough questions and it will come up with answers (and all answers are good answers). Better yet, ask it just before lights out and you may well have some answers upon waking up the next day. We all have an inner-sphynx that asks oblique questions and demands the right answers in order for us to move on to the next phase. So if something is vexing you, start by asking:

  • What has worked in the past?
  • What drew you to the project in question?
  • What made you fall in love enough with a creative idea so much that you felt compelled to court it?
  • Can you remember or tap into that initial excitement; how?

2. Keep things light.
Play is the single most overlooked aspect of the creative process. As children, creative output was always a by-product of something else – engaging in play or immersion into our imaginations. How to lighten up? Try…

  • engaging in the absurd. Nonsensical mental jogs keep us from getting too entrenched in our work – just ask Dr. Seuss.
  • approaching whatever you are doing with curiosity, just to see what happens next.
  • pretending you are creating from the point of view of one of the subjects of your art work, or story characters.
  • letting your medium express itself as though you were conducting an interview – ask it some Q&A’s. What does it have to tell you?

3. Create a space-time container.
There is nothing that encourages greater procrastination than not allowing for adequate time in which to create. To stay engaged in a creative project one must actually, well, interact with it. The only way I know to do that is to actually schedule time for it, just like one would for any other item on our vast to-do list. Setting up specific times in which to create, or to interact with a coach, helps keep things moving along. Jill hosts Parallel-Universe time weekly – it’s a great opportunity, if you don’t otherwise, to engage in your creative process in a “held” space.

4. Change the vibe from obligation to opportunity.
One of my biggest takeaways from Jill’s work is the phrase “I get to…” inserted in front of just about anything I am in some way resistant to. As a general rule, life becomes so much more filled with gratitude and grace when you realize just how lucky you are to “get to” do all of the things you do, all the time. When applied directly to a creative process, which is way cool to be able to engage in anyway when you think about it, it turns an “I have to” into something far more appealing. How lucky is that?!

5. Own the progress.
Many creative types are also high-achieving perfectionists. Chances are they out-perform the vast majority of people production-wise, when comparisons are made, and they STILL think they are falling short and aren’t doing “enough”. Keeping score of what you DO do helps put things into better perspective and continues to fuel the enthusiasm you have for the things you are building toward. I recommend investing in some gold stars and using them copiously and conspicuously in your scheduler.

6. Learn to love the tortoise vibe.
Slow and steady does indeed win the race. Item 5. helps keep the progress in focus but breaking things down into tiny little steps will inhibit the feeling of overwhelm that invariably makes many of us short-circuit into inaction. How small? So small that you can do whatever “it” is in ten minutes or less. If you become lost in a time-space fold and end up working for longer, you can always claim it was quantum mechanics at work.

7. Pull straws.
If your creative mind is anything like mine, there is never a shortage of ideas flowing through your consciousness stream. Thing is, you can’t do it all, all at once, so you are going to have to pull straws on which ones get to be in the spot light and which ones are just gonna have to wait. The particularly appealing ones I scoop up for future reference (I jot down the ideas in my iNotes) while others will just have to be left to swim on by and be caught in someone else’s net. The matter of which projects to work on is always a question of how many to adequately juggle before you end up with a trout slapping you on the head and the rest of the fish flailing around on the ground. So put the ones you aren’t working on into a holding tank where they are easily accessible and focus on the one sitting on your head. It will all go swimmingly that way.

8. Comparison kills creativity.
Have you ever seen little Billy unabashedly, unapologetically paint his trees blue? Damned right you have. And he could give a rat’s ass that trees are generally not that colour, and that fish don’t customarily float through the atmosphere like clouds. Kids will generally look at each other’s drawings and yell “coooooool!!!” when they see some amazing stuff their own imaginations hadn’t yet thought to conjure up but they will not generally feel ashamed of sharing what they’ve made. Kids proudly and regularly brandish their creations. Take it from them. They know better than us stuffy ole grown ups. And you know what else? There’s room on the classroom wall for all of it.

So, that’s about it for today. Know that the world is ready to witness your genius. Know that you create because you were meant to express yourself exactly in the way that you do.

Adriane xo

Beginnings and secrets…

Vyasa: There’s something secret about beginning. I don’t know how to start.

Ganesha: As you claim to be the author of the poem, how about beginning with yourself?

– Jean-Claude Carriere, The Mahabharata: A Play Based Upon the Indian Classic Epic, trans. Peter Brook, (New York: Harper & Row, 1987)

Shake ups are good… I’m finding that when stuff is really not feeling right, it’s the best remedy, and more welcome than rued… at least at this point in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever welcomed change as much as I do now. I feel like one of those crazy base jumpers, fearlessly launching myself off of the top of a cliff (woo-hoo!!!) while yet another part of me stares slack-jawed at my falling form, awestruck at my courage and yet quietly confident that after the exhilarating adrenaline rush, my feet will gently touch down onto the earth once again, unscathed and radiant in my afterglow.

Trust… trusting in self is something that is an acquired… trait. It certainly doesn’t come naturally to me, especially when for much of my young life it was something that was systematically dismantled by anyone whose grasp I fell into.  Conditioned to be a sheep when really I just wanted to be a wolf and howl at the moon… or something.  Mostly I’d complacently follow along until I’d just had it with the being pushed around thing, and revolted in less-than-subtle (and not always constructive) ways.  It is a long and arduous journey toward our authentic self, and sometimes even the concept of authenticity of the self becomes the allure. I can usually tell that I’m on the right track by how my body feels… is there a knot in the pit of my stomach or not? Am I basking in the flow of sheer pleasure or am I chewing the skin off of the surface of my lips (I’d been asked once… “Why are you eating yourself?”). It seems self-cannibalism occurs when I am not on the right track.

So… on secrets and beginnings (which effectively also implies an ending), I have some projects in the works that I am excited about. Some of them involve Creativity Coaching (and creative resources) while others involve creative endeavors, one of which is a story that I’ve had brewing for quite some time, which I am once again ready to turn my attention to. I hope you will be complicit to their unfolding.

Graduations… celebrations…

Tonight was the last telecon class of my Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching training. What a cool bunch of women I’ve met, all extremely talented in their own right.

    I had a breakthrough this week on some concepts I’ve been lugging around with me, that didn’t serve me well. I’ve been in the habit of limiting myself with the use of negative self-talk, one of the many self-sabotaging “tools” if you will, and find that I am not the only one afflicted. In fact, it’s so rampant that I’m amazed any of us get anything done.

      I’ve found that I get the most done when I simply ignore limitations (whether real or imagined) and plod through to reach the other side. Worrying about something accomplishes nothing… except perhaps putting off the task at hand for that much longer. Many of us are so busy worrying about how NOT to do something, to wiggle out of a responsibility, that the task would most likely be completed within the time period we spend on avoidance.

        While researching “looks” of successful websites/blogs, Jill (Badonsky, the author of Nine Modern Day Muses and a Body Guard, and co-creator of the Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching program) suggested we take a look at this site. During my perusal, I came upon this article, which I wanted to share with you, because it strikes a deep chord for me and I suspect (since I am not very different from most creative types) it will in you as well. I especially like the Yoda quote from Star Wars… because that line was like a sucker punch when it came whizzing at me during a recent re-watching of this movie… and it sounded like something my father had said to me… “Don’t try… do!” Makes sense. It is somewhat akin to another quote, this one attributed to Henry Link: Those who hesitate because of the fear of making mistakes are being passed by those who are busy making mistakes and perfecting themselves.

          There are many times I’ve asked people to do something, and I’ve received the “I’ll try” reply… which I have found translates into, “Nice try… I don’t think I’ll be trying to do this anytime soon, suckah!” and amounts to absolutely nothing, but they’ve managed to tell you no without really telling you no (thinking they have also avoided to hurt your feelings, when really all they have done is piss you off because they’ve fallen short of your expectations).

            Well… I’ve rambled on plenty long on the subject, and will cap this post off with a short “suggested reading” list having to do with NLP (neuro-linguistic programming):

              Magic of NPL Demystified by Byron Lewis & Frank Pucelik (ISBN 1-5552-017-0)

                NLP: The New Technology of Achievement NLP Comprehensive by Steve Andreas & Charles Faulkner (ISBN 0-688-14619-8)

                  Mental Coaching-Utilizing Neuro-Linguistic Programming for Better Quality of Work Life, Job Performance, and Lasting Behavioral Change by Trygve Roos (ISBN 1-55395-469-6)

                    Trance-Formations: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Structure of Hypnosis by John Grinder (ISBN 0911226230)

                      Reframing: Neuro-linguistic Programming and The Transformation of Meaning (Paperback)by Richard Bandler & John Grindler (ISBN 0911226257)

                        And… happy Chinese new year! Be well and prosper!

                        Who is that masked man?

                        My pink and black postcard is ready to go out. I started out with a sketch of a Venetian Carnivale masquerader and worked a pink background on watercolor board with US ArtQuest’s watercolor palettes. They’re glittery and fun and when I need to take myself a bit more lightly, I pull them out. I layered on several coats of the stuff through a paper doily. I love the resulting texture. Then I transferred my sketch onto the board with graphite paper and added dark paint and texture on my masked man as well. I’m grateful that I only have one (as opposed to nine) to do.

                        I’ve been thinking on a lot of things lately. I picked up Doreen Virtue’s Divine Magic (Hay House Classics) last week, and have been reading it since mid-week. Interesting stuff, this… not new, per se, but neatly, concisely packaged, along with a “meditation” CD. It’s inspiring, in the least… whatever it takes these days.

                        Everything about my professional life, lately, seems to be ill-fitting, except perhaps the regular paycheck. I’ve spent most of my adult life in the corporate world, working as what can be equated to a servant position… that of secretary, though nowadays the term administrative assistant is by far a more politically correct designation. And as with all positions of servitude, the degree of palatability is entirely dependent upon the person you serve, and to a lesser extent the nastiness of the other wenches in your household, so to speak. Some days they behave, other days not so much.During a rather philosophical discussion with one of my co-workers, I was advised to “rise above it” (as opposed to wallowing in the slop of the pig sty). Some days this is easier to accomplish than others. I truly feel that my calling is not amongst these ranks, though it does provide a steady and dependable flow of income. I’ve most always picked the easier route in my life, choosing not to rock the boat even though every ounce of me was screaming that I should tip it over. Other times, when I’ve done just that, after the dust settled and the other passengers in the boat smoothed out their disheveled hair, I always found that I was in a better place (at least on a soul level).

                        But it’s always good to have a plan…I’ve almost completed my Kaizen-Muse coaching program and can now officially be called a “Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach.” As with any new clothes… shoes… titles… this one will take a while to feel comfortable in, but I’m sure I’ll adapt. That… and I’m just about convinced that I’ll be winning not one, but TWO very big lottery draws… I’ll keep you posted… maybe even throw a party.

                        Breakfasts, birthday bashes and other revelry

                        This morning I awoke and headed over to the Gypsy Den in Santa Ana to have breakfast with my pal Kelly Kilmer. Kelly and I don’t get to see much of each other since she lives in West L.A. and I don’t get out much, so when ever she teaches a class at The Art Bar in Santa Ana, we take advantage of meeting up and chowing down on some eggs and bagels together… and the mug of hot chocolate… to die for!

                        We shot the breeze for a couple of hours and then exchanged birthday goodies… Kelly’s birthday was at the end of October but I missed meeting with her around that time so I brought her giftie along with me to breakfast… she have me my birthday present as well, so we had fun opening and perusing.

                        The afternoon was spent at Boomers, celebrating Gabriel’s 12th birthday. We tried to have the party at the bowling alley, but by the time I called, the only party package for the day that was available was a 10:30am timeslot. The boys had fun playing in the arcade and running around the park. While they did that, I sat at a table and sketched a gargoyle.Let me elaborate on the significance of the gargoyle. I had my first coaching session with my KMCC coach on Saturday morning. I’m glad I waited to start until after the holidays, since havoc reigned from much of November through the beginning of January. I now am able to re-focus on The Gothica Project, which has lain unattended to for several months now. Bonnie and I decided that I needed to inject some “fun” energy into this project, because I’ve been taking it so seriously and my perfectionism was keeping me from moving forward, and some “Arnold” energy to act as a protective force when I was stalled by my inner critic… so I decided that gargoyles would embody both aspects of these energies, acting both as a protective force, and also, in their “impish” incarnations, embody a “fun” energy. I decided that I would sketch a plethora of gargoyles and they would impishly appear throughout the pages of the Gothica book.

                        Later on Saturday, my friend Bonnie and I went to an English tearoom in Costa Mesa for afternoon tea. The place is called the Tea & Sympathy Cafe… the teas were very lovely and we had a three-tiered tray of quiche, finger sandwiches and some tiny desserts… one was a chocolate covered petit-four with chocolate cake and raspberry mousse filling which tasted wonderful!

                        Updates of all kinds

                        *gasp!* How time flies, even when you’re not having fun. Busy days at work have me pretty exhausted by the end of the day. In the past I used to be able to be somewhat productive after coming home from work during the week; these days I’m so fried that all I can do is curl up in bed and take a nap… and then go out to eat dinner.

                        Last month I started a coaching program (as in: I’m learning to become a creativity coach through Jill Badonsky’s Kaisen-Muse Creativity Coaching training). So far so good. It’s definitely got me focusing more on my own creative endeavors.I’ve been working on the Gothica project (which is overdue, partly due to my own lagging, but also due in part to the receipt of submissions long after the deadline). So, I’ve been busy laying out the book/zine/magazine and having to relearn the publishing software and become more adept at the photo editing software. It’s great fun and I think the end result will please everyone, but it’s taking a while to lay it all out. Phew! And I haven’t even begun to edit the “editorial” content. At the top is a sneak preview of the cover.I can’t believe the holidays are zooming in! Although… I’m very grateful that I have a four day weekend coming up this next week (not to mention just a three day work week–hooray!).Hope everyone is doing well and I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!