Tuesdays with Fran: The Wise Revise

notes from tuesday with fran
M
y notes from this week’s session with my poetry mentor, Fran Quinn.

Fran has taught me a number of things about the process of editing and revision that have been priceless – life changing, really, if you are someone who is devoted to your art, whether it be poetry, painting, or countless other mediums (like LIFE in general!).

What I’ve come to realize is that there are wise ways to revise.  These are ways that can help you develop your craft in profound ways, as kindly and compassionately and gently as possibly, while moving a particular piece along from start to completion.

The OTHER ways to revise, the not-so-wise-ways, are those in which you flail about, grasp about blindly for solutions, bumping up in a completely disoriented state against all sorts of obstacles and walls along the way.  

You’ll know you’re employing the not-so-wise-revise if the process of bringing a creative project to completion creates dread (and ulcers) in the pit of your stomach, induces you to procrastinate in every conceivable way (hello clean closets and a scrubbing the kitchen floor on your hands and knees!), until you finally bring yourself back to the page, to the canvas, to the keyboard, at which point it feels like throwing yourself headlong into a brick wall again and again.  The not-so-wise-revise and I go way back, if you haven’t guessed…

But, now that I know better, we are, in the words of Taylor Swift, “never, ever, ever – getting back together!” ;)

Revisions used to stall me, stop me up, and throw me for one doozey of loop.  I often struggled with bringing things along because where it seemed that in the first round of creation, I was riding this wave of creative flow, when I went to revise, I could feel my rational mind entering the picture way too much.  Things that initially had felt expansive, fascinating, surprising, mysterious, rich, complex, would start to feel cramped and contrived when I tried “to finish” something.

Enter the understanding of knowing when to employ vertical revision versus horizontal.

In vertical revision, you stay with the particular piece you are working on and go deeper and deeper into the piece.  It’s likely that you even pick out one aspect of the piece that is really juicy for you, one which you have some interest of exploring more deeply, and you “follow it in” and go deeper with it, continuing to mine and excavate down through layers and layers, probably discovering more rich deposits of inspiration ore along the way.  (If you’re interested in exactly how to go deeper, you can read this AND let me know and I can make exactly how to go deeper a subject of later posts).

In horizontal revision, you check in and see if it feels like you’ve ridden a particular wave of energy as far as it wants to take you today for a particular piece, and then you set that piece aside and work on creating the next piece.  If you do the opposite, and try to keep digging in a piece after the energy is gone, chances are you will create a lot of confusion and overwhelm for yourself and give your ego/inner-critic too much of an opening to dive in and tear things apart.  

Realize that there are some pieces that need to continue to gestate in the back of your consciousness and on your hard drive or in your journal.  It’s great that you got the initial thought captured and out into the real world.  Now move on to continue to let the creativity flow and, inevitably, things that you learn in the following pieces will expand your consciousness, hone your skill set, and will end up informing, naturally and organically, how to proceed with that piece you put to the side.  

Horizontal revising can also, I think, be like outsourcing revision, temporarily, to some silent, deep interior artist-workerbee within yourself.  In other words, even though you’ve put a piece to the side, it is still in your consciousness so, even without knowing it, I believe parts of you keep working on it, parts of you are awake and scanning the world the for missing bits of information or inspiration that will help it all come together.  It’s like you’re delegating part of the creative process to quieter, deeper parts of your consciousness and they continue to work on it while the upper and more “frontal” layers of thinking (this is how it feels it works to me, anyway) go about creating the next piece.

This was a process that I intuitively stumbled upon when painting.  When I first started painting intuitively, I was often overwhelmed and confused by my own paintings.  I followed a hunch, however, that I was trying to cram too many paintings into one painting, and I allowed myself to work on not just 2 or 3, but MANY canvases at a time.  This allowed me to channel as much creativity as possible and I realized that what I had thought was “overwhelm” was really this pressure of built-up, pent-up creativity inside of me and I was only allowing it to come out through one little straw (i.e., one canvas at a time) when it was wanting to gush and gush, with the energy of Niagra Falls.  Giving myself this latitude, this space, figuratively and literally speaking, with painting as facilitated so much more ease and flow in my painting process.

I didn’t draw the connection to using this same technique in writing, however, until Fran pointed out, not long after I first started working with him, that it seemed like most of the poems I was sharing with him were really three different poems all crammed into one.  He suggested paying attention to when I was being given “short poem” energy and to allow myself to stop when the energy seemed to stop – and to not force myself to write epic-length narratives.

Fran, picking up on the fact that I have one nasty inner-critic, also prescribed horizontal revision versus vertical for me in revising my poems.  In other words, once I finished one poem and felt I’d gotten down enough of the details to create a complete-ish picture of what I felt the image/rhythm/language were trying to convey inside of me, then I was to not immediately begin editing and revising that one, but instead was to continue to create the next.

This has been a TREMENDOUS breakthrough for me.  It has allowed me to stay with my creative voices longer, ride that healing and inspirational creative energy longer, rather than what would happen when I slowed down long enough to revise.  And what would happen then was that slowing down to revise gave my demons and other inner-nasties a chance to catch up and I’d end up getting bogged down and beaten down by those overly-analytical, overly-rational voices and their down-right destructive energy.

My fear with horizontal revision early on was that I would never go back to complete things.  My concern was that I would just only love to start things and would never learn to be someone who finishes.  Turns out this fear was unjustified.  What really happens once I give myself some freedom (from a piece and from fear), is that having a little distance from a piece helps me to become detached and objective – and I can better let go of the results because I know it’s not the results I love, but it’s being creative that is absolutely vital to my health and happiness, in mind, body, and spirit.

I still care about completion and want to finish things, but I’m no longer so wrapped up in that one piece because I’ve gone on to start others and am not dependent on that one piece “turning out right” and being the end-all-be-all.  I have the perspective to understand that for me, as an artist and as a writer, the important thing is not to have completed “masterpieces” but to have this on-going practice of these art forms. Having this perspective has shown me it’s the faithful devotion to continuing to show up to paint and write the best I can that brings me back to my deepest, true self and closer to God.

If there are any of you reading who struggle with revising and finishing things, I hope this information about the difference between vertical and horizontal revision can help liberate you from struggling with yourself as you work to bring your art along and become the artist – and person- you know you have the potential to be.

Also, if you have any insights and practices you use that have helped you make the process of finishing your creative projects a kinder, more gentle – and effective! – process, I would love, love, LOVE to hear about them!  Please do share in the comments below or on the Facebook page!  

I really believe the more we share with each other these practices that help us unleash our potential in loving and kind ways, the more we will be unleashing a potential that will help heal us all and make the world a brighter, more beautiful, kinder place for everyone.

To your creativity!

XO-

Leah

PS- If you’re deeply committed unleashing your creative genius and making the next year the absolute best year of your life…the one that sets the tone and will set you on beautiful trajectory for the years that follow, email me at leah@leahcb.com to receive all the details about my next coaching program – EPIC!

The Untrained Mind

“The untrained mind can accomplish nothing.”
-A Course in Miracles

For too many of us, education has consisted of being taught what to think and not how we think.  Still more rare is an education in which we learn how to think…on purpose.  And how to train ourselves use the mind so that it supports our higher purpose…rather than running roughshod over our dreams with harsh criticism and paralyzing our potential with self-analysis and doubt.

“The mind can be a wonderful servant,
but a terrible master.”

-Zen saying

I want to begin sharing with you at the beginning of the week posts about befriending and training your mind.  My intention is to share insights and inspiration – things that I’ve learned and things that I use in working with clients- that can help heighten your awareness and train your mind to work in service of your highest self AND experience more peace and more joy on a daily basis.

The first thing I want to share is simple, yet not easy.  Simple and yet so powerful:

You must focus your mind.

Make it a daily practice to focus your mind. I think of it as a spiritual devotion, even, but maybe you want to think of it as training for the race or performance of your life, or as an elite special forces training…for the mind.

You must focus your mind and one of the very best places to begin doing this is at the end.

Begin with your greatest dream, your greatest vision for what you could create, what you could experience, what you could contribute, and for who you could become.

Write it down.

And then, over the next week, pay attention:

How many of your thoughts, feelings, and actions do you think are supportive of, in harmony with, and aligned with your dream?

What are the rest of your thoughts, feelings, and actions?

Where is the majority of your attention and energy going?

If it’s not going towards your dream, just be kindly fascinated by that and ask yourself “why”?

You can only focus your attention one place at a time.

If you are focused on your dream, then that creates immediate alignment and that’s the direction in which you’re moving.

Use the dream to focus your mind.

Set goals that align with that dream.

Expect there to be obstacles.

And remember that the biggest obstacle is the untrained mind.

 

Please check back for next Monday’s post (and feel free to drop by for the posts before that, if you’d like! ;) ) and bring your work on dreams and your thoughts from this week because it will all be very relevant for next week’s post.

And I’d love to hear (in the comments below or on the Facebook page) what your biggest dreams are – and also what the greatest challenges and obstacles are that you encounter along the way to living out these dreams.  

Also, if you have any insights on how you create a mindset of kindness, beauty, health, love, success (however you want to define it), growth, and personal evolution, I -and others!- would love to hear what has worked for you!

Whatever your dreams are, I hope they include having a WONDERFUL week!

XO-

Leah

P.S. If you love the thought of training your mind to be in service of your highest self and your dreams, then you might like to hear more about my next coaching program – EPIC.  EPIC will be like an elite, holistic training – mind, body, and spirit – to help you become your own best friend, greatest champion, and help you to unleash your potential and create your dreams and a beautiful life.  You’ll work hard, but you’ll learn how to do so in a way where ease replaces struggle, and where confidence replaces doubt, and peace and deep satisfaction replace inner turmoil and dissatisfaction.  You can email me at leah@leahcb.com for more details. 

Love What You Love Friday: Just as the Winged Energy of Delight & Something EPIC

st mary's lakeOne of the ways I’m stretching myself these days is to get back into prime running condition.  My goal is to once again be able to run a 5 minute-mile.  Something I haven’t been able to get to since having children and then recovering after an ACL-tear.  So, as I work towards this, I’ve been running a lot of circles around the lakes on the Notre Dame campus – and the beauty of the fall makes the runs so much sweeter.

What I’m letting myself love -and own, totally unapologetically- this Friday are the following lines from Rilke AND….(something else you’ll have to keep reading to see!):

Take your well-disciplined strengths
and stretch them between two 
opposing poles.  Because inside human beings
is where God learns.

(from “Just as the Winged Energy of Delight,” by Ranier Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Bly)

WHOA.  Wait a minute – what?!?!  How could I have lived my whole life without hearing this line before: “Because inside human beings/is where God learns.”?!  

That should be taught to children as soon as they can talk! (Working on it with my boys now!)

I first read this poem sitting on an airplane in Chicago’s O’Hare, waiting to take-off for Paris on September 27, 2014.  I will never forget that moment.  I think Emily Dickinson said something like “reading really good poetry can make it feel like the top of your head is going to come off.”  

YES. That’s EXACTLY what it feels like.

And that’s exactly what reading this poem feels like to me.

Nowadays we are little more crude and just toss around the word “mind-blowing” without really thinking about it, but this is definitely a mind-blowing poem, in all the most amazing, miraculous ways.  Read properly, this poem is a spiritual experience…every single time.  So many of Rilke’s shorter poems are like this.

There are these beautiful words, energy, imagery and yet I also feel like someone just pulverized me, gutted me, cleaned me out- in a very good way :).  These poems feel earth-shattering- again in a very good way.  Afterwards it’s like the scales have dropped from my eyes, mind, heart and I just want to sit for awhile in my stunned silence and new found cleaned-outedness (yep) and let the truth ring through, settle in, take hold, and begin to change me, again, from the inside-out.

“Just as the Winged Energy of Delight” is one I’m learning by heart – not memorizing, mind you – but learning BY HEART.  I try to take the poem in, digest it, let it become part of me, so that it can grow up through me, so that I can feel it from the inside-out every time I need it.

I cannot tell you how often I’ve referred to these lines in just the past few weeks since learning them to help me gain a better orientation to all the ways in which I’m trying to learn, grow, and be who I am meant to be…. “Because inside human beings/is where God learns.”

This brings me to the second thing I’m letting myself love these days – and that is my next coaching program – EPIC!

These lines from Rilke are very relevant to EPIC.  I will be very honest with you and admit that I had some hesitation about naming it EPIC, even though it felt like an intuitive decision and my gut and my heart were definitely all-in.

I was concerned that EPIC sounded too cool and flashy, too coachy, too much like all the flamboyant jargon/marketing noise that is crowding the interwebs.  I was concerned that it would evoke manic, desperate goal-chasing, feelings of “not-enoughness” and FOMO, and attract people who are not really aligned with their deepest truths and who have no interest in becoming aligned, but who are just chasing the next biggest thing as a way of shoring up insecurities and “getting ahead.”

These were the concerns, I should say, of the nay-saying voices in my head.

Noted.

Then I went back to the deep, quiet, calm voice that gave me the idea in the first place.  It told me that EPIC will be defined by the grounded yet powerful intention that I give it.

What is that intention?

Before I tell you that, consider first an earlier stanza of “Just as the Winged Energy of Delight”…

Miracle doesn’t lie only in the amazing
living through and defeat of danger;
miracles become miracles in the clear
achievement that is earned.

My intention is that the experience of my EPIC coaching program will create for my clients the miracle of becoming their true selves.  Of NO LONGER WAITING to be who they already are and thus no longer waiting to live the lives they are meant to live.

I am absolutely convinced that the people we dream of becoming and the lives we dream of living, are so, so, SO much closer than we lead ourselves to believe.  I’ve proven this to be true for myself – several dreams that I thought were years and years out, I actually achieved and experienced this year – from painting to travel to family-life to business and physical health – and so many things in between.  To do this, you have to get a stronger and stronger sense of who you really are – and then you begin to really, truly “get” that you are not your limitations.

To have had this be the case definitely felt miraculous, but not in some fairy godmother waving her magic wand and hocus-pocus, presto-chango, POOF!  suddenly life is all rainbows and unicorns (though I do love those things) – kind-of-way.

But miracles in the way Rilke describes- miracles that become miracles in the clear/achievement that is earned.

I definitely did not do these things on my own: I joined a high-level mastermind, I worked with the best coaches out there, my husband and family were incredibly supportive, and all the time I was working my behind off, I was also constantly deepening my invitation to the Divine.  I was constantly reminding myself to surrender my small self, align with my sacred call, and allow What Wants to Happen.

This is the kind of coaching work I am going to be doing with clients this next year.  I made the decision to tighten up my roster, am taking fewer clients at a time, and I’m requiring a greater commitment of time (a minimum of 6 months) and a greater financial investment.  I made these decisions after it became clear to me over the last several months that I want to focus my coaching work with individuals who are dedicated to doing the great work of their lives and who are ready to not only dream, but to dare, and to follow through…and who are also wanting to have the time of their lives!  This is deep, intense work and, frankly, I don’t think you can get through it if you aren’t someone whose willing to have a lot of fun and find the beauty and joy in things along the way!

So, whether your dream is to write your book, quit your day job to stay home with your kids or start your company, move across the country, fall in love, get in the best shape of your life, complete a Ironman, win an Ironman, make (a lot) more money, travel the world, learn to love being in your own head, no matter where you are and no matter what you’re doing…and learn to be a better human being along the way…let this be your year.

Decide what would be epic for you and dare for this next year to be that epic year, commit to it being the time of your life.

Whether or not you are interested in having the best support imaginable (that’d be me;) along your epic journey, I would love to hear in the comments below or on my Facebook page what an EPIC year would look like for you!  Don’t hold back – there is nothing too big, nothing too small; nothing too outrageous, nothing too “ordinary.”  I can’t wait to hear what epic means to you!

Thank YOU for being here and for reading – I’m so glad you’re here!

Here’s to all of us on our epic journeys – and the good company we keep along the way!

XO-

Leah

P.S. If you are interested in being one of my EPIC coaching clients, I have 3 spots available for coaching beginning at the end of October.  I’ll have 3 more spots opening up January 1, though my rates will be increasing at that time.  You can email me at leah@leahcb.com if you are interested and I will send you the info sheet with details, including investment, benefits, and more.  Thank you!  

 

 

 

Tuesdays with Fran: Follow the Image

I had another great session with my poetry mentor, Fran, this Tuesday and I wanted to share the creative insights with you.  Whether you’re writing a poem, a screen play,  working on a painting, or your next business offering, I think this insight applies to creatives working in all mediums.

Back to Tuesday’s session…

Sometimes when I’m talking to Fran, I just can’t believe it because I have this incredible feeling like I’ve been waiting all my life to have conversations like this.  If you’ve ever had a friend, colleague, or mentor who “really got you,” then you know what I’m talking about!

Here’s a snippet from this week’s conversation that occurred after I had read a first draft of a new poem…

Fran to me:

“You’re following the energy so much better, this is good, this is better….but, what I want to know is….your imagination can go to some of the weirdest, craziest places…I want to know why you don’t follow it there?!  I mean, your imagination will give you some wild stuff, and you note it, write it down at least, but then you just walk on by!  Follow those images that you get!”

This all happened within the context where references to a human heart, a quartz, a cricket, stars, galaxies, and my Muse showing up as St. Michael the Archangel and then The Winged Victory of Samothrace (apparently my Muse has no problem cross-dressing) all occurred within a handful of stanzas.

None of this stuff would have fit into any of the boxes I tried to cram myself into for so many years. So now, to be able to have an outlet for my imagination and not in the kind of little imagination in that I’m just making sh*$ up, but that I’m tapping into faculties I barely knew I had (because what is IMAGINATION, but the creating of images = VISIONING) but to have someone to talk to for whom this stuff is just the everyday (and for me it is the sort of mysticism + discipline + creativity + meaning + beauty that I absolutely cannot get enough of!), is just such a gift.

I mean, I’ve always known my imagination can go some weird, crazy places…but now that I have some guidance and instruction in how to decipher the potential meanings beneath these things (and how incredibly fascinating to discover you can know things you didn’t even know you knew?!) and be able to connect them, string apparently unrelated stars into constellations that suddenly reveal a myth, an ancient human theme…stars that tie you to history….now that weirdness is feeling like a good thing.  A very good thing.  It feels like home.

This is not your everyday creativity.  I know it’s not for everyone, but for me, I love the kind of creativity that is deeply bound up in the workings of my soul, the kind of creativity that brings me into deeper relationship with myself and God.

How about you?  Are you receiving inspiration for your next creative works?  Do you feel like the flow of inspiration continues – or does something else happen next…like you become confused or lose the thread?

If you are an artist, poet, or writer – I’d be fascinated to hear where your inspiration comes from! And does it come as music, as rhythm, as a feeling, as imagery, as words, or something else?  Sometimes words come to me, but so often it’s a feeling (like music but without music, if that makes any sense) and in imagery.

I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on creativity and spirituality.  Are they related for you?   How about imagination – useful for you in your everyday life?  Or not?

Let me know what you think in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook!

Until soon….

XOXO

Leah

Some Thoughts on Failure, Inspiration for Getting Unstuck, and a Coaching Audio


leaves

One of my favorite ways to get unstuck is to get outside and MOVE.  I did this yesterday and not only did it work, but I was rewarded with beauty.  Beauty all around me, including beneath my feet.  As I stopped to take a picture, I thought about all the times we are “stopped” in life and the power of what we make that mean.  For example, when I stopped to take a picture of the leaves, I could’ve made it mean I was “failing” to complete my run as I should…but, instead, I took it to be a beautiful part of that run.  What if, as we’re lives, we look at the times we get “stopped” to mean not that we are failing, but as beautiful opportunities to pause and take in the meaning that is being offered, to take a breath, to relax and live…until we want to move again.  

I think what keeps a lot of us stuck is fear of failure, fear of ridicule.

I have a lot of compassion for feeling stuck and I am very passionate about helping people get unstuck, moving, and actively creating and living their dreams again.

I hope you aren’t feeling stuck these days, but because it happens to the best of us, here are a few things I hope will help get you moving again the next time stuckness gets you down..

Three quotes from people who knew a thing or two about living your truth despite facing daunting circumstances…

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

 “The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best that one knows.”
-Buddha

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
-2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Finally, here is an audio of coaching I offered to those who asked questions on my Facebook page about getting unstuck and achieving their goals and dreams.  If you’re interested in receiving free coaching, submit a question on my Facebook page and I’ll answer it there and, depending on the number of questions I receive, I also may have the opportunity to address your specific question in an upcoming audio.  I really believe in the effectiveness of these coaching tools and want to make them available to a wider audience, so if you have questions or comments, please leave them below or join the conversation on my Renascence Co. Facebook page!  

 

Here’s to you, doing your work…no matter what…and using those “stops” and “failures” as opportunities to learn and create meaning in your life. 

Until soon…

XO-

Leah

Let Yourself Love What You Love Friday

me on the streets of paris

This is me, strolling down the streets of Paris on the way to dinner with friends, so wrapped up letting myself love what I love that I didn’t notice my travel companions at the end of la rue, taking my picture.  Something that I so loved while in Paris was the excuse to get really dressed up – for no reason at all – and those Tieks you see there.  I really love those Tieks.   One of the all-time best shoe purchases… ever!  I easily put fifty miles on those flats during that week.

I’m noticing a pattern in my life.

All of the most profound results I have experienced have come through embracing and living the most simple concepts.

Maybe the simplicity is why I overlooked this particular truth for so long -

The power of letting yourself love what you love.

I suspect this is so powerful because it is directly related to another truth is related I know you’re already very familiar with, and that is:

“The Truth will set you free.”

I’ve taken leaps and bounds and my life has opened up in incredible ways since committing to unapologetically, passionately, letting myself love what I love.

As these things work, not only have I opened to the world, but I swear that the world has opened up to me.  I have a very blessed life, but the blessings since practicing loving what I love have just increased exponentially.  It’s like a blessing monsoon around here.

Which is why I wanted to share this with you and to start a Friday series about allowing ourselves to love what we love – and unapologetically so!

Maybe you know this truth, too, but you’ve held yourself back, consciously or unconsciously, for various reasons.

We can talk about those reasons more later (including in the free coaching I’m currently offering on my Renascence Facebook page -join the conversation there!), but you don’t even have to understand the reasons to begin practicing this powerful technique.

I’ll launch this series with something that I think will touch upon the reason many of us don’t embrace loving what we love – and thus we block the flow of joy both from us and to us.

The reason that stopped me for so long, and that I see stopping many clients and friends, is that we harshly judge what we love as silly, superficial, shallow, not spiritual, not important, not practical…etc., etc.

I’ve gotten over this, though, because I’ve come to trust that what I truly love is a gift – one to be honored and one that will guide me, like an inner North Star, if you follow through.

So, for today (and I’m sure this will be a repeat topic on Fridays now that I’ve made this confession! ;), the thing that I did not let myself love for so, so long but that has brought so much joy to my life that I can’t believe I waited for so long…

Style and Fashion.

us at crazy horseMe with a couple of my lovely and super-stylish cohorts.  Paris is the perfect place to play dress-up- red lipstick, strapless velvet leopard print dress, and black suit coat?  Oui!  Of course!

As a little girl, I absolutely loved to play dress up.  Somewhere along the lines, I started to put away the “glamorous” play clothes and I only let myself express myself in clothing for special occasions – a homecoming dance, prom.  Then, in later years, as I was a student in business school and then law school, it seemed even more inappropriate to care about what I wore – surely, modern, intelligent, sophisticated, professional women didn’t care about such things?!

But the truth was, I did.  My best friend in college and I used to reward ourselves for productive study sessions with an hour of designing and drawing our clothing line on coffee shop napkins and in the back of our notebooks.  But then we’d put it away in order to get back to “the real world.”

A love of beautiful clothing, the architecture of it, the art of it, the energy it expresses and the allure it creates kept coming to the surface of my consciousness and popping up into my life, but I kept pushing it down – especially once I became a new mother.  Mothers have all sorts of “reasons” for not allowing themselves to love clothes, I totally get it…

And yet, there came a point when I wasn’t getting it anymore.  And I just decided, here and there, to buy the gorgeous though “impractical” shoes.  To wear a dress – even though it meant I was all dressed up with no place to go.  I wear more skirts, allow time in the morning to do my hair and make-up – even if I’m working from home and am with the kids all day long.

It seems crazy, maybe, but it works like magic – letting myself dress up for the day, helps to make it a special, magical, fun day.  It absolutely delights me to have put together an outfit that is “just right” and with a pop of something unexpected.  Maybe I don’t have anything “special” planned for the day, but I truly believe I create a special day by bringing a certain intentional energy to it.  

In short, allowing myself to love style and express myself in this way gives my heart this infusion of pure joy.  I’ve also found that the creative expression makes me feel more open when I come to my other creative pursuits – whether it’s the canvas, the blank page, or a coaching session.  I find I’m more likely to bring more color, more love, more vibrancy, more humor, more joy, a more adventuresome, pure spirit and a brighter, clearer mind to the processes.

IMG_7641

I was very aware in Paris of the power of paying attention to details – and, for me, the power and energy that come from infusing even the smallest moments with beauty and joy.  What I was trying to capture for myself in this photo – in yet another amazing Boulangerie/Patisserie –  was  one of the realizations I most wanted to take home with me…and that is that there are no throw-away, doesn’t-really-matter-anyway moments.  Anytime you can infuse something with a little fun, a little decadence, a little beauty, a little kindness, a little something extra, ESPECIALLY if it’s unexpected and unnecessary…make that choice and follow through!

Dressing in Paris was so incredibly fun.  First, you’re in a foreign country so there’s that liberating factor (which helped me see how much I reign myself in at home – good to know!).  Secondly, I felt like Parisians are so accustomed to people playing with style, that they either don’t give your choices that “up and down” second-look, or, if they do give you a second look, it’s often accompanied with a smile or even a kind compliment.

This is definitely something I have been trying to bring home and keep alive since coming home – to play with fashion, to express myself through style…and to do so with some that amazing flavor of passion and bon vivant that I tasted in Paris – one that is all my own.

If you are already all onboard with the power of expressing yourself through style, or if you’d like to be but aren’t yet there, I’d love to hear your thoughts about loving what you love, whether it’s in fashion or some other area of your life!  You can leave a comment below or, again, join me on my Facebook page to start a conversation or, for a limited time, receive free coaching.

As always, thank you so much for reading.  Even if I haven’t yet heard from you, I think about those I’ve heard from who read my blog regularly and wonder about who is reading this now that I don’t even know (yet!).  I’m grateful that you are here.

To you and loving what you love – and creating a beautiful life, from the inside – out!

XO-

Leah

 

Tuesdays with Fran

poetry journals

Words & Paper
(Two poets I love and my favorite journals)

I’ve been working with my poetry mentor, Fran Quinn, for a few years now.  It is not an exaggeration to say that one of the best things I’ve ever done for creativity – and my life- was to attend his workshops and to work with him in one-on-one sessions.

I took about six months off our work together in the last year.  I was just finding that with a new baby, my art, my coaching, and building a business, that I didn’t have the bandwidth to also write enough.  I felt the absence though – of the writing, the regular reading of poetry, and the conversations with Fran – and couldn’t wait to start again.  We picked up where we left off a couple months ago and started working together regularly – every Tuesday, as it so happens.

Something about this regular attention to poetry and these regular sessions with Fran help set the world right for me.   Poetry has become essential to the kind of life I want to live- and to my desire to help others live the lives they want to live.  I feel so enriched by it, it opens worlds and parts of me like nothing else, and I feel like the positive effects spill over into every area of my life that is deeply precious to me – my relationship with my children, my husband, my painting, my coaching, my spiritual life, and, of course, my writing.

I wanted to document here some of the shining bits that I take away from my sessions with Fran.  Every single time I talk to Fran I learn something incredible – about poetry, about creativity, and about myself.  And after each session I find myself thinking that these are treasures that should be shared.  

Fran is one of the most remarkable teachers I have ever known and I know that there are people out there – like you, maybe – who are working to deepen their creative life, to enrich their life and the world in general – and I truly believe that the things Fran teaches can absolutely help you unleash the gifts and energy you need to accomplish and live out your dreams, your calling.  He has helped me in astounding ways.

I take notes from our sessions together (in between trying to listen very, very hard) and in order to provide inspiration but avoid overwhelm, I’ll highlight one piece at a time.  I hope that as you travel down your creative path, it’s like a shining bit of gold you find in the road signals to you which way to go, that enriches you as you travel along, and that reminds you you’re not alone and that someone believes in you and in the importance of your dream.

From this last week’s session, here is bit of wisdom that I think is genius and absolutely priceless.

Tuesday, October 15, 2015
Fran to me as I read and worked to revise a poem I have been working on for a few weeks….

“Don’t be discouraged if what you see on the page and then what you hear when you read what’s on the page do not match up to what you are experiencing inside.  If you aren’t liking what you are seeing or hearing, it just means that what’s on the page is not the poem.  

The poem does exist – but it is still existing mostly inside of you.  The fact that you aren’t satisfied with what you’ve written means the poem is still living mostly inside of you at this point, just waiting for you to bring it out.”

If you are creating something and not yet satisfied with the result, if you feel like the vision is still living mostly inside of you, I hope these words encourage and guide you.  If you’d like more support, I’m offering free coaching on my Renascence Facebook page this week.  If you are looking for on-going and intensive support, someone who will be the champion for you and your dreams over the coming 6 months to a year, I have a few openings remaining for personal coaching clients (for details, please sign up for my newsletter or email me at leah@leahcb.com).

Finally, if there are words and wisdom that have helped you unleash your own creative genius, please share in the comments below!  I truly believe that creativity is essential to our well-being and our ability to live our potential and the more we share information, celebrate, and support each other, the better off everyone will be.

Thank you for reading, my friends!

Until soon…

XO-

Leah

A Paris State-of-Mind

pink dress

This is me, photo kindly taken by a friend
after we had a lovely, leisurely lunch in

just yet
another gorgeous, historic, cobblestoned corner of Paris.
My friend is also one of my amazing clients -
I have to say it was so incredibly special and one of the highlights of my trip
to be able to celebrate her work and
journey with champagne toast…in Paris! 

I’ve been home from Paris just a few days and already planning how soon I can go back…

I’ve never been an urban person; I’ve always loved nature and quiet and wide-open, green spaces.  But when I visited Paris sixteen-years ago as a college student studying abroad, I remember thinking that while I’m not a city person, I could definitely be persuaded to be a Paris-person.

I was curious to see if I would feel the same way many years later…and I did – even more so, in fact.

So, while I continue to unpack my luggage and memories from this trip, I’ve also been reflecting on just exactly what it is about Paris that is so very special.

The conclusion that I’ve come to is that the magic of Paris is her ability to incite a certain state-of-mind.  For me, that state-of-mind is one of curiosity, wonder, adventure, gratitude, a deep appreciation of beauty, a sharpness of intellect, a lively wittiness, elegance, grace, sensuality, ease, and an effortless presence….a keen aliveness.

Until soon…

Au revoir!

XO-

Leah

PS- My next round of coaching – EPIC – will be beginning in just a few weeks!  Imagine having your own champagne celebration in Paris – what would you like to be celebrating at this time next year?  Dream it and then dare!  And if you’re up for unleashing your own version of an EPIC year, sign up for my newsletter to stay in the loop or email me at leah@leahcb.com with EPIC in the subject line to put your name on the first-to-know-list (you won’t be obligated to anything, you’ll just be the first to get all the details!).  xoxo!

Get out of your own way

I used to be someone who was constantly, chronically even, in her own way.

For years, I dreamed about painting, writing, being my own boss and building my own successful business, traveling, adventuring, helping other people get out of their own way and live a life that exceeds their most beautiful and bold dreams, and working with amazing, inspiring, world-class, FUN colleagues, mentors, and clients.

I used to dream of these things but they seemed so far off and, frankly, often times pie-in-the-sky impossible.  Every now and then I’d get fleeting feelings and visions of what I was capable of and who I really was, and I’d be encouraged and inspired and work with renewed enthusiasm to create my dreams….but eventually and invariably I’d get in my own way.  

It began to make life feel less like life and more like a life sentence, one where I was to have these desires in my heart and sight and, most painfully, I had a very clear understanding that I was the one who had erected these prison walls yet I had no idea how to break free.

Fast forward to today. I am free and most definitely living a life that previously I only dreamt of living.  It’s not that I never get in my own way anymore.  Yes, I might get derailed now and then, but never for long because I trust myself to know how to get back on track.  After more than a decade now of studying and practicing what works and what doesn’t, there is a world of difference in my life.  I no longer feel trapped and confused, nor am I weighed down by self-doubt – and if I am, I know what to do.

Most days these days, I feel free, clear, focused and confident that if I can dream of something, then I will do it.

For example, this morning, I’m writing this blog post.  When I’m done, and I’ve had some sweet morning time with my family, I have a session with a world-class client.  Every time I leave working with this client, I pinch myself.  Dream job!

After that, I’m finishing up a couple paintings that I’ve already sold so I can have them complete before I leave tomorrow for Paris – for fun, for adventure, for meeting up with world-class clients, colleagues, mentors, and friends.

More pinching, more dreams come true.

On top of that, in the past year I’ve tripled my painting sales, my coaching business has quadrupled, I feel my ability to tap the kind of Creativity I know is available to me is only just beginning and getting stronger, and in the last several months I’ve been to Napa twice, Colorado twice, and, again, am headed to PARIS tomorrow.

I tell you all of this because if you are someone who currently gets in your own way, I want to do more for you then to state the frustrating obvious – GET OUT of your own way.  You know that.  If you knew how, you would have done it already, right?  (At least, that’s how I always used to feel!).

I wanted to write this in case anyone out there reading is feeling frustrated, stuck, confused, or despairing because they can’t figure out how to get out of their own way.  I wanted to offer you today three of my favorite ways for getting out of your own way.  And I wanted to tell you what the results have been for me because I know what it’s like to receive advice and yet you’re wary of trusting it because you don’t want to try one more thing that’s just left you disappointed.  

I’ve shared with you the results I am experiencing and now here are a few of the things I have done that have not only worked, but have been the most impactful.  Some of the effects are immediate and I can promise that the positive effects will just continue to snowball if you continue to practice them faithfully.

Don’t give up on yourself or your dreams but wholeheartedly give these three things a try.  They’ve worked miracles in my own life:

1. Learn to embody ease while doing hard things.  
Become a student of doing challenging things with a spirit of ease.  Your dreams will always require that you do hard things, but if you can learn to do hard things with ease in your mind and spirit, you will be amazed at the results.

An easy (sorry, couldn’t help myself!) way I practice this when feeling challenged and frustrated is to ask myself these kind of questions:

Where is the ease here?  What would ease do?  How could I make this easier?

2.   Ask for help
This seems obvious, but it was one that kept me stuck for years.  I didn’t like asking for help even when it was offered and free (especially if it was free as I hated to inconvenience anyone).

For example, I didn’t want to invest in coaching, mentors, or a mastermind community because I didn’t think I was “there” yet – as in, hadn’t earned it, wasn’t successful enough yet, wasn’t making enough money yet, etc.  Long story short, I finally got over this…and wondered why I had waited so long.

Enlisting the help of those who are the best at what they do who can help me become the best I am capable of becoming has been some of the best money I have ever spent.  Hands down.

Every single part of my life has improved tremendously since hiring a coach, investing in trainings, and joining masterminds.  Beyond the improvements, I also feel that I’ve grown in ways – and with a speed- that I’m not sure I would’ve experienced otherwise.  Yes, there were some duds in those experiences, but what investment doesn’t have risk?  Furthermore, every experience that wasn’t so good made me a more savvy and selective investor. And the cumulative return has been so, so worth it.

Spend time researching coaches and programs to find a good fit for what it is you are trying to accomplish- but be onto yourself if you find yourself in a long, holding pattern, “just waiting” for exactly the right time and exactly the right coach or program.  If you’ve been wanting to do it for over six months and haven’t pulled the trigger yet, I’d say chances are you are just making excuses.  In the words of Karen Lamb,

“A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.”

I still find myself experiencing major fear every time I invest in a coach or something similar.  If I would’ve listened to it, I would’ve missed out on three life-changing experiences this year, not to mention countless other extraordinary and beautiful experiences and accomplishments.  There’s always going to be fear – expect it and trust yourself.  (A great coach can help with that, by the way).

I also wanted to share the example of hiring help for household chores and childcare because I know many of my readers are working to raise families and dreams side-by-side.  Although I had to work through feelings of guilt and wondering what other people would think, eventually I came to the realization that everyone must find their own way.   For me this meant owning that in order for me to feel healthy, happy, and at peace with myself, I needed a certain amount of time to paint, to write, to coach, and work on my business.  And to do this, I needed help.  

Now I am so grateful to the sitters who have so lovingly helped our family and the part-time nanny I currently have is a God-send.  Literally.  The harmonious and loving energy she brings to our children and our home has helped all of us is something I am deeply grateful for…and now it’s hilarious to me that it was something I ever felt guilty about and waited for so long to do!

3. Give up perfection and give yourself permission to suck at it.
I know this dream in your heart seems way too precious to let your work toward it, on it, in it, your creation of it be anything less than perfect, but consider this:

Perfect is impossible.  Therefore, aim for perfection and you have just set yourself up for inevitable failure.  Interestingly, a part of you knows this and that’s precisely why it’s insisting, “Oh no!  I have much too high of standards and this is way too important for anything to be less than perfect!”  Don’t be fooled.

Your dream is way too precious, way too important, for it to have to be perfect.  Perfectionism will kill your dream and your spirit.

You can do better than perfection.  Your dreams can do better than perfection.

I am constantly challenging myself and my clients to find what is better than perfect.

Here are a couple things to think about:

Done is better than perfect. 
(that one is allegedly a mantra at Facebook – seems to be working out okay for them…)

And, for those of you whose egos get sneaky and sophisticated and who claim you know perfection is impossible, but you just really want to be excellent — beware!

If aspiring to “excellence” has helped you make a TON of progress and you are honestly sitting in your dream life right now because “excellence” has guided you there – wonderful.  Keep doing what you’re doing.  This next part doesn’t apply to you.

If, on the other hand, you are someone who has been aspiring to excellence, and yet you are making little to no progress, you’re feeling very frustrated with what you’ve been able to create, and you’ve got miles and years to go before you get the results you want, this next piece is for you.  It’s something I picked up years ago from an article or blog post by Bungay Stanier and I have it written down in my journals and sometimes even write it on the wall of my studio to help me get unstuck:

Forget about being excellent.  I just want wanting to be f*&!ing amazing.

You can substitute whatever two words you like for the ones I’ve underlined.  These are the two that often work for me because I don’t ordinarily cuss, but when I do, I know I mean business.  This puts me in a space where I know I’m no longer messing around with my little excuses about wanting to be create something that is perfect/excellent/quality, etc.  I see right through those and just get to work doing the best I can with the best energy I have to offer.

 

***

Again, these three things, undertaken with a fierce, deep commitment to honoring myself and my dreams and my desire to live the life I know I am capable of living and to become the person I know I am capable of becoming, have honestly helped dreams come true for me.  It’s felt nothing short of miraculous.

And I’m still practicing them and putting them to use every single day (as I have a lot of life and dreams left!).   

It is my deep, deep wish and my prayer that you take them and work miracles with your own dreams and life.

If you have questions or comments about anything I’ve shared, or if you have your own insights about what’s helped you get out of your own way and unleash your potential, please leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you!

Here’s to getting out of your own way and getting on with the real work of your life!

XO-

Leah

PS- If you have a dream that you want to bring to life – but haven’t yet – my next round of private coaching (beginning in late October) may be for you.  It’s called EPIC and it’s specifically for people who have a vision for what their life could be and they are ready to ditch the waiting and commit to making this next year the year it happens.  It’s not just about the one career/relationship/financial/health goal or achievement either – this is a holistic program.  I want you not only to write your book, land the dream job, fall in love, get in the best shape of your life, travel the world….I want you to fall in love with the world and your entire life and have it be the most remarkable year of your life.

And that is why I’m calling it EPIC.  ;)  

Nothing less.

Because of the nature of the program and the intensive way we’ll be working together, I’m keeping the number of clients I’m taking for this work small, so if you’re interested, be sure to sign up for my newsletter to stay in the loop or send me an email with EPIC in the subject line to be added to the first-to-know wait list.  I’d love to help you create a year that, when it’s all done and you’re celebrating, you can look back on and say, 

“YES. That. Was. EPIC.”

 

 

 

Keeping the Faith By Doing the Work

painting mess

I have been SO creative the past couple weeks.

I’ve spent more hours than I want to count writing and rewriting.  After initial rewrites and edits, I ended up with 40,000+ words.

Of those 40,000 words, I cut it down to 2,900 that I will probably actually use.  I sent a rough draft to a mentor and received feedback (very trustworthy, valuable feedback) that I need to cut it by at least a third.

I’ve spent hours and used lots and lots of color painting.  I have at least a dozen canvases going.  And It’s a pretty generous assessment to say that eleven of them are looking worse and more confusing than when I started.

At times it’s been a dream.  A day where I got to paint and write is a dream day in my book.  (But let’s be clear, the “and” is key there.  Just a writing day with no painting…not quite as dreamy.  Now you know where my bias currently lies!)

At other times, I would’ve called it agony except that I think I was too exhausted to feel agonized.  Mostly my eyeballs just hurt and I dropped into bed.

What keeps a person going when things just don’t seem to be going?

For me, it’s running, yoga, meditation, prayer (constant), mentors, the grounding love and immediate needs of my family, the voice of my mom on the phone, a call from a friend, wonderful care for the children so I have time for these things, a last minute, end-of-the-week and after-both-our-kids-are-asleep girls’ night out that involves a couple cocktails, a fire pit, and a beautiful September evening…

But if none of these things trip your trigger, here are some brilliant lines that also are miraculous to me in times like these…

“You are entitled to your labor, but not to the fruits of your labor.” (Krishna)

And the following from my man Rilke:

“I have faith in all those things that are not yet said.
I want to set free my most holy feelings.
What no one has dared to want
will be for me impossible to refuse.”

How can you not keep on keeping on after reading that?

“I want to set free my most holy feelings.”

YES.  That is what I want.  I want my labor AND if it takes 4 MILLION words and stacks and stacks of canvases, so be it. (tho let’s be clear, God – that’s not actually what my first three preferences would be….)

I’d love to hear how you keep the faith when up against your greatest challenges, creative or otherwise!  If you have something that you turn to, please share in the comments below.

Onward in faith and creativity-

Leah