Map Your Dreams

Originally posted on Artist Soapbox on 29 November 2018

Greetings, Soapboxers!

We’ve got a few more tricks up our sleeves before we close out this year, but I’d like to take a minute to look toward 2019 and what lies ahead.

What are your dreams for 2019?

One of the tools we use in our Creative Accountability Groups is a mind map. Mind maps are so useful for breaking down goals or projects that may otherwise seem intimidating into more manageable steps. Here’s a bonus: mind maps have other applications, as well.

Have you ever used a mind map to facilitate creative dreaming? Give it a try.

Grab a piece of paper. Write a few future dates (3 months / one year /5 years from now). Then let your imagination run wild. Ask yourself: What would you like to do by that time? Where would you like to be? How do you want your life to feel one year, five years, ten years from today?

Can you actually let yourself write down your dreams?

Will you give yourself permission to write down anything?

Does resistance show up? What does it say?

Keep in mind that you do not need to justify your list nor does your list need to be “realistic.” I put that in quotes to offer that even your most “who am I kidding / that is totally preposterous / when pigs fly” dream might, in fact, be more attainable than you think.

Want a real-life example?  Singer/songwriter Juliana Finch wrote down a list of aspirations for her music, one of which was to have a song featured on the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. That podcast showcases a different song, often by an independent artist, in each episode as its “weather report.” Juliana listed that goal on her mind map as one that might happen three years from now. I’m thrilled to share that her song “Impasse” will be the weather report on the December 1st episode. Her dream took less than a year to become reality.

Giving yourself permission to dream is the first step, and by doing that you plant a seed of creative potential. What if you watered it from time to time? What might grow?

If you would like to take your dreams and work  toward your creative goals in a supportive group atmosphere, please consider joining us for the first Creative Accountability Group of 2019! Follow this link for more information and to register.

Sweet dreams, Soapboxers!

‘Til next time,

MT

Artist Soapbox: Take Your Work Seriously

Originally published on Artist Soapbox on 30 April 2018

Greetings, Soapboxers!

Next week, Tamara and I are launching our first Creative Accountability Group. I can’t wait!

I’m already inspired by the statement these artists have made by signing up for this group: they have put Creative Resistance on notice.

In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield posits that every artist is engaged in a war against Resistance. In his definition, Resistance is any act that prefers immediate gratification over long-term growth, health or integrity. Resistance is fueled by fear and Resistance never sleeps. The battle must be fought anew every day.

Does this sound familiar? Imposter syndromeprocrastinationperfectionismcomparison — these are all forms of Resistance. The good news is: we are not powerless in this fight. Recently we’ve talked about cleaning up and bringing in beauty as resources. Today I’ll offer one more, inspired by Mr. Pressfield: Take Your Work Seriously.

Do you want to write a book? Make a web series? Learn an instrument? You do? Cool! Quick question: HOW SERIOUS ARE YOU?

Serious enough to delete some time-sucks from your phone?

Serious enough to decline a night out with friends to do your work?

Serious enough to reach out to friends/mentors for help and feedback?

Serious enough to spend time actually *doing* the work?

In this context, taking your work seriously does not mean putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to produce something “Serious.” It means you recognize the intrinsic value of your artistic endeavor and prioritize it without apology.

One of the biggest lies Resistance wants us to believe is that we don’t have enough time. Do you have 5 minutes? Sit down and do your creative work for those 5 minutes and you have overcome Resistance. Do it again and again and your work is going to add up to something. I’m a big believer in this axiom: “Show up for the work and the work will show up for you.”

This is why I’m so excited to begin our Creative Accountability Group. This is a group of people who have said, to some degree, I am serious. I am serious enough to get some help. I am serious enough to show up and put my goals out there. I am serious enough to risk feeling less-than in front of other people. I am serious and I take my creativity seriously.

Next month I’ll be sending a dispatch from the front lines. In the meantime, we’d love to hear about the ways you battle Resistance. What works for you? Leave us a comment or email us at artistsoapbox@gmail.com .

‘Til next time,

MT

Cleaning House

Originally published on Artist Soapbox on 1/29/2018.

Greetings, fellow Soapboxers!

I closed my last blog post of 2017 by promising to shift from creativity obstructions to creativity resources. Ready? Let’s clean house.

I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to create when my space is busy and messy and uninspiring. I’ll admit it: I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I did. And you know what? It ushered in some big changes in my life. So, whatever you feel about the book, I think there can be a lot of value for us in confronting the things in our space that really and truly need to go to make room for other things* that reflect beauty and joy and make us feel good.  (*sometimes empty space qualifies as an “other thing”)

I spent last Saturday night cleaning out the cabinet below my kitchen sink. Who said blogging isn’t glamorous?! While the sad under-the-sink situation never rose to “To-Do List” level importance, I gotta say — it bummed me out every single time I reached for the dish soap. Like a paper cut on my domestic soul. Last Saturday night, though, I’d had enough. I took out all the products, threw away what I didn’t need, wiped it all down, and reorganized that mother. This thing that had bummed me out for years took less than 15 minutes to rectify. Now, my clean kitchen cabinet gives me a little boost rather than dragging me down.

This is where I, much like young Ralph Macchio, realize that I haven’t been toiling pointlessly for a taskmaster who isn’t going to come through with the karate lessons. I’ve actually been learning karate THIS WHOLE TIME.  Wax on, wax off, Soapboxers. Tidying makes me feel good. Clearing space makes me feel good. It’s easier to make art — perhaps especially, difficult art — when I’m feeling good.

Take a look around your space, Soapboxers. Do you like what you see? Does it inspire you? Does it give your brain a chance to roam free or are you looking at piles of junk mail and unfolded laundry and dirty dishes and that spot on the window sill where the paint is chipped and you just. can’t. let. it. go?

This week, find a small change you can make in your space and then challenge yourself to do it. Fix that squeaky hinge. Get rid of that lamp you’ve always hated. Thin out your t-shirt drawer (MT’s note: Physician, heal thyself). Whatever it might be for you. We’re all in this together. Drop us a line at artistsoapbox@gmail.com and let us know what you did and how it made you feel.

‘Til next time!

MT

Artist Soapbox: Reclaiming MY Time

Originally published on Artist Soapbox on 12/11/2017.

I am a goal-oriented person. I do really well with a plan. If all the steps are laid out for me — i.e. marathon training — I will show up every day and do the work. When I don’t have a plan, though, it’s like a blender with the lid off. What am I doing? What’s that over there? Hey that sounds fun! Squirrel! Instagram! Where did this month go?

This fall I was in need of a serious recalibration. My major goals had been accomplished and I was staring into the void. Or, more accurately, I was filling the void with social media and lots of other distractions.

I needed help and it arrived in the form of the Passion Planner. [This is in no way a paid endorsement, though if the #pashfam wants to send an undated planner my way, I would make good use of it]. It emphasized the importance of prioritizing your tasks. We all juggle a zillion balls at any given time but not everything has equal weight. What are the 2 or 3 things that really move you along your path? What if you focused on those and let the time/energy leeches fall to the wayside?

Once I mapped out some goals and the steps they required, it became eminently clear that I needed to spend a whole lot more time reading and writing and a whole lot less time trying to capture the perfect Boomerang video of my dogs. If I was going to make progress, I had to confront the empty time calories in my day and make a conscious change in behavior. I felt overwhelmed by the prospect, but when the student is ready the teacher will appear. Enter Representative Maxine Waters.

To put it bluntly: Rep. Waters does not have time for your bullshit. She has served in Congress for nearly 25 years. She has seen more than enough to know that the current state of political affairs can be upgraded in size from Dumpster Fire to Garbage Barge or Tectonic Plate. This summer, while questioning the Secretary of the Treasury, Rep. Waters grew so frustrated with his evasions that she refused to give her time to his bluster. The video footage of the session went viral and “Reclaiming My Time” arrived in the national consciousness.

In the latest blog posts for ASBX, Tamara and I shared thoughts about comparison and the ways it can help or hinder you creatively. Rep. Waters provided me a much-needed dose of helpful, high-frequency comparison to apply to my everyday life.

Am I scrolling glassy-eyed through Facebook? RECLAIMING MY TIME.

I obsessively checking my phone for any form of a distraction? RECLAIMING MY TIME.

Am I spending too much time thinking about things out of my control? RECLAIMING MY TIME.

I printed out a picture of Rep. Waters from the RECLAIMING MY TIME congressional session and put it on the front of my planner where it stares me down throughout the day. It’s surprising — or maybe it’s not — how often I need this reminder to keep me on task. What’s more, I know Rep. Waters won’t accept my excuses and, frankly, I do not want to let her down.

Once I had Rep. Waters’ watchful gaze to be accountable to, it’s amazing how quickly social media and other time/energy drains lost their appeal. Also, the planner gave me a concrete way to chart my progress (or lack thereof) and a visual representation of the days I did or didn’t show up for a particular task. This made me more motivated to do the work and keep myself moving forward, because MAN do I love checking boxes. For real.

So what about you, Soapboxers? Where and how could you RECLAIM YOUR TIME? What shifts might occur if you put your attention on the things that feed your soul rather than the things that distract you?

I know, it’s the holiday season. I’m looking at the month ahead and realizing that I have some decisions to make. Saying yes to a party or concert will sometimes mean saying no to writing, or vice versa. As easy as it would be to fill my month with social engagements, I simply must retain some time for myself, some time to keep plugging away at my creative endeavors. Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day. What about you? How are you showing up for yourself this month? If you need an extra boost, check out the RECLAIMING MY TIME gospel remix and repeat after me: Do you know the rules? When it’s my time, I can take it back.

We’re all in this together, Soapboxers. I’m interested to hear from you. Leave a comment or write us at artistsoapbox@gmail.com .

‘Til next time!
-MT