What To Do When Your Creative Work Isn’t What You’d Hoped

Each piece of writing illuminates. Sometimes the light is on process, other times on content. Sometimes it’s about learning why we say yes to a word, a phrase, or an idea. Other times it’s why we edit, saying no. Just like life – our choices shine a light on who we are right now.

And now.

This morning, a friend who’d just published his latest (perfect, in my opinion) blog post, was feeling that what ended up on the page didn’t match the quality of his notes. He asked if I could I relate?

Oy! Does the seeming brilliance of my mind always come out on the page? Hardly! Is this a comment on my writing ability or on the delusion of my own grandeur?

Perhaps it’s the over-reliance on language to convey our sensations, our wisdom. The magnificence of life is far better communicated by looking into another’s eyes while they share their story, or through tender lovemaking, or when inhaling the sea air on our morning walk. It’s fully taking in what is before us, deeply and with reverence. It’s why we have Art: words aren’t enough, except maybe Basho’s.

I often tweak each post, even after you, dear reader, get my latest in your inbox – for my clarity and pursuit towards fruition. You read essays-in-progress, and you don’t know at what point you stepped into the conversation. It’s like Matisse, painting the gardens of Givenchy over and over again or like hearing a funked up arrangement of an older Ani DiFranco song on a live album. Art is a constant reworking, seeing with fresh eyes and ears and heart.

I believe in the Wikipedia model – a constantly evolving truth. This speaks to my dislike of most journalistic photography – that we think a snapshot tells the whole story. What IS true in one moment is not necessarily true in the next. Truth is shifty, and ever shifting. Like Ani sings, “it took me too long to realize I don’t take good pictures because I have the kind of beauty that moves.”

Nature is fluid. “Capturing” reality is foolish. It’s thinking you bagged that great African lion on safari, only to mount its head on your wall and discover an empty prize, for his essence has been extinguished. Perfection lies in surrendering, not in holding tight.

Everything is in motion. Our unfolding. Our belief system. Our priorities, and yes, even our values. Let’s not lock ourselves into rigid forms, but rather allow our creativity to flow, flourish, reinvent itself, innovate, turn on a dime.

To my writer friend, I posed this, what if what was left behind needs percolating for some greater purpose? What if what made it into form today serves today, and what didn’t get translated was the “mother”, the starter dough for the next loaf of inspiration?

Judge not, for our creations are also our evolutions.

Honor what comes and keep hitting that Publish button. At the end of our lives the one song, the Uni – Verse!, will be beautiful, as it already is.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out this dispatch from last summer, another look at how each piece is part of the whole —>

The Commodore, a $3,000 Toothbrush, & Why I Love Maine

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On Distraction, Resistance, And Doing ANYTHING At All Except Writing

Note the time: 9:30am.

Bake a small loaf of Boule. Slather it with butter. Pretend to share with sister. (Here, have the last slice.)

Promise to stop eating dairy and gluten. For the third time this week.

Initiate a private twitter / Facebook group for fellow writers working on their book proposal. Silently acknowledge the smokescreen effect, while basking in self-congratulatory bliss.

Start a notebook called Accomplishments in order to feel even more productive. Replicate this list there. Use colored Sharpies for flair.

Cover desk planner with affirmations and encouragements. Read them out loud in a flowy, New Age-y kind of voice, without irony.

Burn incense. Tibetan, if possible. To light, use matchbox from Brooklyn restaurant. Feel hip, yet irked at paying $5.25 an oyster.

Pick up a pen and open notebook with book outline. Stare out window. Notice the rear tire on car is flat.

Meditate for 10 minutes to regroup.

When the muse arrives, with probing questions that spark, quickly put the pen down, walk into the living room and engage in conversation with sister. What’s her take on Karl Marx, Mitt Romney, and the plight of the proletariat?

Check the mail to see if the W2 from last summer’s gig with the schooner arrived yet. Calculate the impact that $8/hour will have on Social Security benefits. Wonder why you went to that overpriced Brooklyn restaurant?

Start making the bed for the first time since childhood.

Peruse stack of last year’s magazines with scissors and a glue stick, justifying “craft hour” by creating a visionboard. Cut out picture of Loire Valley Castle and hope someday you’ll have a remarkable story to tell, when you realize the home you’re living in IS EXACTLY THE SAME CASTLE YOU CUT OUT OF WORLD OF INTERIORS TWENTY YEARS AGO. OMG! Somebody call Oprah.

Snap the hell out of it.

Refill cup with decaf, since quitting the caffeine / sugar rollercoaster. Convince yourself that decaf tastes the same as regular and that the square of chocolate in your hand is medicinal.

Decide today would be a great day to begin that Understanding The Brain DVD course ordered after the holidays. Feel smarter for doing so, but less so once the professor starts explaining the principles of neural science. Scrunch up face at the first exercise: Why do you think saltatory conduction in myelinated axons would be faster than conduction in unmyelinated axons?

Turn off DVD and check book proposal group on Facebook for any new messages. Let guilt wash over you.

Pick up the kettlebell and do 50 kettlebell swings. Curse Tim Ferriss when your forehead and palms sweat.

Note the time: 2:15pm.

Thank Tim Ferriss for renewed energy and focus.

Sit down at computer and finally begin writing.

Reading Is Fundamental And Other 70’s PSA Riffs

People start pollution. People can stop it.

“So, what do you do?”

“I’m a writer. I’ve a collection of essays on my blog, about breaking through conventional thinking and living on my own terms.”

“Oh, cool. Are you published?”

Hmm. Didn’t I just say I’ve got a website? With words on it? Organized around a topical theme?

Isn’t this kind of programmed thinking polluting our creativity? (See: BOX, thinking outside)

Oh! You mean do I have an agent, a contract, and a book deal? Not yet, but it’s curious this leveraging game that’s going on. To get the traditional folk to take a gander, the online platform must have viral-ity. And for site cred, a NYTimes bestseller sure doesn’t suck. Good thing, that penchant for having my cake and eating it, too. Hey, I’m just doing my patriotic duty. The pursuit of happiness and all…

Conjunction, junction. What’s your function?

I’ve been practicing the best of both worlds for a long time and I’m just as comfortable on a John Deere as I am in a Jag. Lifestyle agility, if I may suggest, is a virtue to cultivate. Being nimble enough to position yourself in front of the ball gives you time for strategic visioning. Score! That we embrace the models which have informed and brought us here, along with the exciting tranformations-in-progress – didn’t Dr. Seuss say it best, “Oh! The places you’ll go!” Doors are flying open, because…

The gatekeepers are gone! The keys are in our hands, and not just mine, but yours too. Technology has gifted the tools for us to articulate our madness, er…brilliance. Innovation lies not just in the realm of the few anymore.

Think: Inspiration.

Speak: Intention

Act: Creation.

You’re published when you write. You’re an artist when you paint or sculpt or dance. You’re who you say you are. Declare it. Eyes and ears are everywhere; so is opportunity. It’s taking the best the evangelicals and Darwinists have to offer and leaving certainty behind. We create AND evolve. In muse we trust.

I live to investigate and identify what’s true. Ditch the conventions and assumptions I inherited and reframe how I see the world, and I’ll tell you, it’s not my father’s Oldsmobile. Not a Prius either. Actually, it’s still car parts and chicken wire (nod to Ani DiFranco) since I’ve cut back on the ‘master’s tools’ habit. While it’s too radical to go cold turkey, (still need the Mac, a wireless connection and the USPS) I can see a new horizon and it’s architecturally magnificent! All these fellow life hackers supplying the necessary juice to keep us revved. There’s a whole lotta lovin’ goin’ on in 2012! Look around and see many like-minded souls rejecting the limitations of the previous, and even their own, generation. Truth and passion and optimism ripe for the picking. Online and off. Never before have there been so many ways to get your voice heard, your writing read, your message disseminated.

On deck here are a slew of writing projects. Seeds of new business ideas poking up out of fertile soil. I’m on the verge, folks. And so are YOU.

So remember…

RIF. Reading is fundamental.

It’s not just writing that’s being redefined. Reading, also. Have you heard that more people are cracking the kindles, nooks, and good old-fashioned books more than ever? It’s not all black and white, anymore.

Think about your RSS newsfeed, your favorite magazine, your horoscope, yours truly. None in hardcover or even sitting on the shelf. Digital. Ethereal. Cloud-like.

We’re immersed in words, in all their old and new forms. From Facebook and twitter to whizzing billboards, daily weblogs, ingredient + nutritional stats, Ron Paul newsletters, overflowing library stacks, and those creepy pharm ads (check out the side effects – you’ll never consider popping Lipitor again).

Amidst the cacophony, there’s wisdom to widening our lens. We’re exposed like never before, and great responsibility is called for. Notice how words are used and consumed. Become more conscious of what you put in your mind – for it determines what you think. Our mind is the only place that’s truly ours to govern.

Have you ever closed a book and reveled in the story, wishing it hadn’t ended? The characters live on, in our imagination. They have staying power when expertly rendered. Sometimes even when they’re not, so isn’t it better to be as discerning with our mental appetites as we are with our New Year’s ones? It’s easier to decline entry to those freeloading poseurs than to evict them. Just as we trim the fat from our diets, we should be careful with what stories we give our mental real estate over to.

Onward from my 70’s rugrat days, I scoured whatever I got my hands on. Voracious, I was. It started with the back of cereal boxes and Nancy Drew mysteries. Then there was my vampire phase. (version 1.0, that is ~ Anne Rice). My tastes have become more discriminating, as I satisfy my word cravings with more nutritious fare.

Here’s what’s on my reading list now:

  1. Drive by Daniel Pink (masterfully documenting what we intuitively know to be true about human motivation)
  2. The latest issue of Orion with a don’t miss interview between Terry Tempest Williams + Joe DeChristopher (the auctioning activist, post-jail term)
  3. This quote: Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller
  4. Issue #5 The OCCUPIED Wall St Journal (nabbed while touring the OWS offices in NYC last week)
  5. The Flinch by Julien Smith (FREE ebook on amazon – what’s stopping you? go get it!)
  6. The “map” of my new book (in progress) – How I’m going to revolutionize the interview process for the 21st century – you’ll never hire the wrong person again. Book proposal gratitude to Danielle Laporte & Linda Siversten.
  7. A new yoga studio’s schedule (oh how I miss you, Rachel)
  8. My dad’s Christmas card, for the nth time
  9. My 2012 list of intentions, declarations, and wouldn’t-it-be-marvelous-if’s. Tinkering, still.
  10. To my nephew: Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent. Because the single biggest determinant in the success of a child – across the board – is being read to.

Only you can prevent wildfires.

Together, we can start them! Change your mind, change your life.

What’s on YOUR nightstand? What do YOU do?

To Resume Or Not To Resume? Bullet Points, Job Descriptions and Little White Lies

Resume writing is an exercise in concise and intentional language. My less traditional route through employment hasn’t much required this black and white, two-dimensional snapshot, so when I recently was asked to submit one, I actually laughed out loud.

People still use resumes!? How very 20th century of them.

Conventional job searches rely on outdated methods – sweat out a resume (fudging facts here and there), scan the want ads, pound the pavement (a metaphor that conjures up painful Siberian exile), and sit across from a manager who doesn’t know who his ideal hire looks like, but expects you to grovel for the gig anyway.

No wonder why so many of us are unfulfilled in our work. Does this sound like the road to job satisfaction? Not so much. Since I parachuted out of the proverbial airplane of my first career in 2010, I’ve been fascinated with how we can feel both free and deeply committed to making a living that uplifts, and not depletes.

Knowing what you want to do next and where you want to do it are much more effective in opening the door to right income. (Thanks Gandhi.) Meet with people. Have conversations about what you do and why you do it. Let them see you in action – show, don’t just tell. Of course, certain professions require licensing, certification, and such, and you can supply that information, but don’t be solely represented by bullet points and fonts. Would you rather read about a new gallery exhibit, or let the vibrancy and emotion of an artist’s painting captivate and enchant you?

Given the choice between reading someone’s biography or having dinner with them, which would you choose?

Please, right this way to your table, Ms. Steinem…

However, for the sheer experience, I complied and penned the Cliff Notes version of my history, skills, and education. In 15 minutes. It was actually fun, and damn, if I didn’t want to not only hire me, I wanted to pay me more than I was asking!

Turns out that writing a resume is an end in itself, because whether you get the position, you’ll learn how to recognize, streamline and highlight your strengths with confidence. If you’re going to be judged by mere words on a piece of paper, shouldn’t you be your first and best cheerleader? This is not the time to be humble. Shine like the North Star. Brag like a gold medalist.

Distill your talents and sell your assets.

  • Keep it simple. One font, one page. Leave lots of white space so the eye may rest.
  • Name and contact information. No need for address or SS# or anything more personal yet.
  • Stay relevant. Include only necessary dates (no months, just years) and pertinent information.
  • Include experience not compensated monetarily. How have you created value for another? Charity work or volunteer position? Ran a social organization or club? Recipe writer or master of DIY? Your talents lie in more realms than financial – ever hear of social profit?
  • Tech skills. Indispensible and all too rare. (You know more than you think.)
  • Don’t list out minutiae – no one reads the admin. It’s clutter on the page.
  • Tell the truth. Own your accomplishments with integrity.
  • Focus on your excellence and strengths. How are you consistently educating yourself? A leading edge gives you the edge.
  • Give them no choice but to meet with you – right now.

If you’re even slightly discontent with your work, take a few moments, go to Google Docs, grab a resume template, and practice being concise and intentional. Shine! Reframe life experience into lessons learned ~ what used to ‘look bad’ are pluses nowadays:

  • Gaps because of travel or parenting translate into highly prized traits: communication skills, prioritization abilities, time management, adaptability, risk-taking, etc…
  • No degree? Enter self-direction and innovative thinking. See: Steve Jobs.
  • Change jobs often? You have a larger network, demonstrate flexibility, and adjust to new situations with dexterity and humor.

Ultimately, though, wouldn’t you want to be hired because someone thought ~ Hey! I know who would be just perfect for this project? Wouldn’t it be great if people gauged us more on direct experience and our full selves? But try it anyway – sketch one out on your lunch break. You’ll see yourself in a whole new light. I sure did.

I’d really like to hear about YOUR job-seeking. Tell me in the comments below how you opened up your last revenue stream and how, if at all, a resume was at play. (at play!) And if YOU’RE the one doing the hiring, how do you use a resume, if at all, in determining the outcome?

Thanks! Looking forward to hearing your stories…

{Addendum on Feb 3, 2012: From Seth Godin’s blog today:
Can I see your body of work?
Are you leaving behind an easily found trail of accomplishment?
Few people are interested in your resume any more. Plenty are interested in what you’ve done.
The second thing you’ll need to do is regularly note what you produce in a log or find some other way to keep track.
The first thing is more difficult: If the work you do isn’t worth collating and highlighting, you probably need to be doing better work.}

 

The Most Powerful Person I Know

Hello Beautiful! Yes, YOU.

I’d like to have a word with you. A few, in fact.

I see you struggling over there. I hear you. I feel you. I love you. I love you so much I’m going to share a secret with you:

You have all the time in the world.

I know. There’s not enough hours in the day to get it all done. Your biological clock is ticking, and you haven’t even met your partner yet. Maybe you have found him, but the kids are climbing all over you and you can’t get anything accomplished. Or your kids are grown and you feel like you’re wasting time if you’re not pushing, striving, getting that new project off the ground. Or perhaps there are so many people counting on you to take care of things. You run a business with huge responsibilities and obligations and have a mortgage and that new roof to replace. You’re running late for work, to get to the bank before it closes, and around in circles because the pressures of daily life are mounting. Or you’re winding down in life and there are still a few things on that bucket list that you haven’t crossed off yet and you wonder if you’ll ever get to them.

What I have to say is this:

You have ALL the time in the world.

Now, I can tell you, but you may not believe me. But whether you believe in God, or Goddess, the Universe, Spirit, Mother Nature, Yahweh, the Big Bang, or even Gaia, Qi, Krishna,¬†Gitche Manitou, Allah, or the absence of deities altogether, it doesn’t matter. You can believe in yourself, and I know that because I’ve seen you in action. You are one supremely powerful being.

So say it. Say it like you mean it.

“I have all the time in the world.”

Say it out loud.

Say it when you feel rushed or overwhelmed.

Say it as prayer.

“I have ALL the time in the world.”

Say it even if you don’t believe it. Indeed, that’s the best time – you are changing your mind, your mindset. Begin when it feels inauthentic. Maybe it works its magic quickly, but if not having enough time feels a longstanding challenge, it may take a greater commitment to shift your beliefs about time and its abundance. That’s OK, because…

“I have all the time in the world.”

Write it down. Put it where you’ll see it often. In fact, post it in a few places to increase its visibility. Sticky-note your home: the bathroom mirror, the fridge, inside your date book. Surprise yourself: slip one under the visor of your car, tape it to your coffeepot, put one in your wallet. Get creative: make a coaster for your keys, monogram your tote bag, screenprint a poster.

“I Have All The Time In The World.”

Catch yourself in the mirror, wink, and say it back to yourself. Pretend you’re an actor practicing your lines. Play with it. Meditate on it.

Imagine what it would be like if it were really to be true.


“I HAVE
ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD.”

Slowly, change will happen…it’s inevitable.

Trust me on this one. I once was in over my head, feeling the tidal wave of time slipping away. Life was too short, too much, I would never get to it all. I felt behind, under pressure, that I *should* be somewhere else than where I was, trying to cram it all in.

But I’m right here, now, and you can trust me.

You have all the time in the world.

Because YOU

are the most powerful person

I know.



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