Shiny Sparks: LeeAnn Olivier

In this week’s Shiny Sparks, we hear from author LeeAnn Olivier. She shares with us a snapshot of her creative process and answers the question What Inspires You?

____________________________________

Art museums and galleries are like churches to me. I think about this as my best friend Keth and I amble through the permanent collection of the MOMA. I visit this sanctuary every time I come to New York, but it never ceases to enthrall me. I stand in front of Magritte’s The Lovers for a long while, the heads and faces of its kissing figures enshrouded in white fabric. I think of Magritte at age fourteen, watching his mother’s body as policemen hoisted it from the Sambre River, her wet nightgown wrapped around her face. I think about love as glamour, as bewitchment. I wonder if we ever really know anyone’s true nature. But it’s the Louise Bourgeois exhibit that pulls me in with its own sort of enchantment. Giant, maternal spiders crouch above metal cages, forever mending their broken webs. Women turn into spirals, pivoting on pointed toes. I feel like each room is a decade in the artist’s long life, and I’m walking through her body, wrapping myself in the fabric of her memories. “If you bash into the web of a spider,” Bourgeois once said, “She doesn’t get mad. She weaves and repairs it.” Bourgeois cut up all the textiles of her childhood—bed linens, towels, tablecloths, handkerchiefs—and spent the rest of her life piecing it all back together again. Just as I attempt to carve worlds out of words, weaving was her way to make things whole.

Bourgeois spider

LeeAnn Olivier is the author of the poetry chapbook Spindle, My Spindle, in which she creates a “world that is vivid, wild and fierce, but is also eager to grapple with the ache of love, loss, and grief that explore and transcend the inventions of the doctrine of the feminine” (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2016). Her poem “Leda Revisited” was chosen by Margaret Atwood as a finalist for the 2014 Thomas Morton Memorial Prize in Literary Excellence and appeared in The Puritan. Her poems and essays have also appeared in several literary journals, including Driftwood Press, Biostories, Damselfly Press, and Stone Highway Review. She teaches literature and creative writing at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas and is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Texas at El Paso.

 

Advertisements

Shiny Sparks – April 12, 2018

I launched the Shiny Sparks article series on January 29th, but I haven’t been as consistent as I expected. I’ve had a few life delays, extra meetings, lots of book events (hooray!) and I lost my momentum a bit. Instead of making myself wrong for it, I’m examining the creative process as I experience it. I’ve noticed that when I’m launching something bigger, when I’m creating new things that have the potential to bring more light into the world, obstacles arise.

writing pic

 

Has this happened to you?

I remember back before my mommy days I would take the occasional weekend trip with one of my friends. We’d carefully plan our departure times: who’s driving, where are we meeting to pack the car, what time, how long, which snacks. Excitement would be high, and then we’d hit a snag. Traffic would be crazy on the way out of town, or we’d miss an exit and have to loop around the highway. One of us forgot something crucial and we’d have to run back or stop somewhere to replace it.

This became such a predictable pattern that one friend and I (we traveled together a lot) would joke that because we had some obstacles and had to work harder to get on our way, it was a sign we were going to have a fabulous trip. And it was always that way – despite those challenges in the beginning, we’d spend days in joy, laughter, and bonding. Memories were implanted. Love grew. And because we had those experiences, we brought that energy  into the world in a way only we could have channeled.

Given that our results were so often positive and joyous, I started to question this pattern. Is it a necessary part of the creative process? Is it a lie we’ve bought into? I’m still experiencing it in my life, and sometimes it seems that the more I’m stepping up and out with my honest expressions, the bigger the obstacles that show up.

 

funny creative

What has changed is my perspective about it. These days I know that if I keep at it despite setbacks, I’m destined to succeed. And I’m aware that what I perceive as a setback is often the creative idea giving itself time to grow and flourish.

In the space between my last weekly post and today, I’ve received an idea I’m excited to explore. For a while going forward I want to use this weekly series to examine the creative process from different perspectives, backgrounds, and approaches. How do we as creative people really stay connected to our own inspiration and motivation? What keeps us from operating on auto pilot and really living our creative lives consciously?

I’ve curated some artists and writers in my life, and together with their contributions to the series, we can watch snapshots of the collective creative process. Actively engaging in the creative process and sharing that with others, learning from how we all keep at it, and celebrating collective success brings me tremendous generative energy.

What about you?

What keep you inspired?

What keeps you from operating on auto pilot in your creativity?

I look forward to the conversation…

 

 

 

April Updates

Book Signing and Festivals
April 7, 2018
11 a.m – 4 p.m.
400 E Hickory St, Denton, Texas 76201
April 21, 2018
10 am – 4 pm
In-Store Book Signing
Visit me on Facebook for all of the details about my April events!
Now Offering Mini-Sessions
Are you curious about my Intuitive Journaling Workshop
Write to Change Your World?
I’m offering complimentary mini-sessions to introduce the concepts we’ll cover in the workshop, answer questions, and customize your experience so you get the most out of your experience.
These sessions are ‘tasters’ of the work
I do in my writing workshops, and are my gift to you.
Space is limited!

 

 

My Circle Game - What's Next?
This year has been amazing, and I’ve had a lot of fun sharing my book.
But I’m just getting started, and there’s much more to create.
I’m ready to go to the next level and I need your help.
I made a video to share part of my story with you, and I hope you are inspired by it. Would you like to be a part of something bigger?
You can be!

Want to be a part of something bigger?

Hi Everyone,

In July of 2017, thanks to the donation efforts of my first crowdfunding campaign, I successfully published my first children’s book, “Your Hands Can Change The World!”  From this book, I was able to create an educational resource that deepens and extends the lessons in the book. I was also able to create a blog/website which contains my book and updates, writing and educational workshops, and my personal creative writing.

Today, I’m actively marketing my book and website at market fairs, in-store book signings, and online.

Publishing a children’s book was a lot of hard work, but the fulfillment of sharing my book with families has been a powerful and uplifting experience. I’ve met some wonderful people, learned a lot about myself, and received some helpful insights.

And it is just the beginning.

book signing

I am in the process of creating a book *series* for young readers about how to share with each of our 5 senses, and I need your help to bring the next 2 books to life.

The next two books in the series are  about 30 % complete, which means I am almost finished with the text and am ready to move forward with the illustrations. With your help, I’ll be publishing 2 more books in my series this year: 1 book about how we can share with our eyes, and 1 book about how we can share with our mouth.

The money raised through this crowdfunding campaign will be used for the publishing costs of 2 new books, plus minor improvements to my first book and a new hardback version. I will also create educational resources to pair with the new books just as I did for my first book. The money donated to this campaign will also be used to give me the time I need to accomplish this goal, and to actively market my books.

The more money I’m able to raise on the front end of the campaign, the faster I’ll be able to begin the publishing process. And the sooner the books can be in the world for everyone to enjoy. The estimated delivery of the finished books is October 2018.

The support I’ve already received as a new author has been more than I imagined when I initially had the idea to write a book. I’ve learned alot about my strengths and limitations, and I’ve met some remarkable people. I’ve made some mistakes this year, but I learned a lot in the process and I feel much more confident to go through the publication process again.

The best way I know to show my gratitude for your support of my campaign is to continue to work hard, never give up, and to always shine my own personal light into the world through the words and pictures in my books. I have also set up some pretty sweet reward levels this time to show how much I appreciate the support.

If you donated to my campaign last time, I hope you will consider doing so again. If you weren’t able to the first time, here’s another chance. EVERY amount helps. Every dollar encourages me to keep going, knowing I have a structure of support pushing me forward. It means the world to me, and I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you for your time and energy! If you have any questions or concerns, please ask anytime.

All the Best,
Cristee Cook

It’s because when you kiss me

it feels like the stars in the sky

You’re my private universe

expansive and allowing

Of course I feel too deeply

I’m a Universe of exploding stars

that you’ve lived in before

with me

I’m sure of it

We’ve pieced together a galaxy

you and me plus two

and for me

this is heaven

 

space

 

Shiny Sparks: February 26

I had just finished setting up my table for a book event yesterday, when a women walked up and asked me what my book is about. She looked really tired and I could see she had been crying. I answered her question and we got to talking, and she’s going through some serious life challenges. She ended up purchasing a few things from me, and as she started to walk away, she shared with me that she hadn’t intended to come to the market and didn’t really know why she was there or what she was looking for – but after our talk, she felt like maybe she had come just to meet me and talk with me.

This was a high compliment, and the primary reason I embarked on the crazy task of being a self-published author as full-time as I possibly can: I want to share through my writing.

The experience stuck with me. I thought about her on and off all day.

This week I want to talk about being inspired by our own progress and journey. Basically, to be inspired by YOU or ME or US.

As I write this, I find I’m uncomfortable…what if I lose the small number of followers I have?

What if someone takes what I say the wrong way?

What if people think I’m just tooting my own horn and I’m not really talented enough to do that?

You know what? If I want to be a successful author, I can’t listen to that kind of talk.

And I want to share a secret I’ve learned: it’s hard to be a writer.

It’s hard to be a self-published author trying to make a living with your books – for different reasons than I thought in the beginning. The writing itself isn’t actually hard. It takes effort and some days I’ll fight for every word, but I still usually produce something.

The absolute hardest part for me has been quieting the voice that tells me I can’t do it.

The voice that feeds my questions and doubts.

The voice that feeds the fear that invades when I think about whether anyone wants to read what I have to say.

The voice that creates Imposter Syndrome.

The voice that causes me to compare myself to others.

van gogh

But you know what?

I’m doing it anyway.

I’m selling books at art markets and book events.

I’m sending emails to my followers.

I’m writing every day even if I think it’s garbage.

I’ve got two new children’s book in the works and I just released an educational resource for my first book.

I’m not an award-winning bestselling author, but I’m still shining my own light and sharing what I can through writing.

It isn’t ego to tell people about your work because you think it can be a contribution to them.

The ego is the voice that says we can’t do that.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of trying to use the negative thoughts as motivation. It doesn’t really work. It certainly doesn’t create unlimited possibility.

I want to be inspired by my own journey. To be self-motivated not out of greed or a need to have the spotlight, but a true desire to share what I can with those who are looking for what I have to say.

impossible

Maybe there will be people who don’t like it.

But that’s not who I’m writing for…

This week, let’s focus on following through no matter what.

Don’t worry about the size of the progress or positive feedback from others.

Do it because you have the idea and a desire to do it.

There’s no one in the world exactly like you, and if you have the idea it means it’s yours to create. And no one will do it or say it exactly like you…so, go shine your own special light.

Be inspired by YOU.

 

 

 

 

Shiny Sparks: February 21

I believe that an active practice of sincere gratitude is the gateway to abundance and fulfillment. This week, I’ve been working on a fun prompt: List 99 Things You Love.

I’m going to complete it this week and share it here when I’m done, but I’ve had such an interesting experience with the prompt so far, I wanted to highlight it as this week’s inspiration.

Have you ever tried a prompt like this? How did it turn out? What did you create?

If you haven’t ever done it, I hope you’ll join me in this fun and informing process.

99 things you love

If you try this prompt, please feel free to share some or all of the list you make! I would love to see some examples of how everyone creates this.

I hope your week offers a lot of opportunities for inspiration and gratitude, and thanks for stopping by.

Use Your Hands To Share

Today’s the day!

Hot off the presses and available for purchase!

“Use Your Hands To Share: Exercises for Hearts & Hands”

 

use your hands cover_2

This PDF downloadable booklet offers discussion questions, exercises, and craft activities for ages 3-11 years to expand and deepen the concepts in the book.

The booklet is 19 pages of fun and you’ll have immediate access upon purchase.

Already have a copy of “Your Hands Can Change the World!”?

Perfect! Get the new PDF companion here.

You can order an Ebook bundle for instant access to BOTH the book and educational resources here.

Prefer a book you can read in your hands? No problem!

You can get a signed copy of the book, and add-on of the PDF companion here.

Since the publication of my book in July 2017, I’ve had so much fun sharing it and meeting all of you. Through my books and workshops I aim to be an example of how to maintain a global perspective and sharing consciousness as a way of life. I hope you have enjoyed the book so far.

Thanks for supporting my dream, and I hope that by sharing it, we’ll inspire everyone to follow their dreams!

Together we can CHANGE THE WORLD!

pdf launch

Eczema, Humility, and Strength

My son turned 2 at the end of August, and my daughter started Kindergarten this year. First of all, WHERE DOES THE TIME GO? Right!? I’m thinking about milestones and the quick pace of life. I remember when they were both infants and I thought the sleepless nights would never end. Now, I can’t keep up with how fast they’re both changing.

My son arrived in the world earlier than expected, but healthy. He’s a happy baby. He’s affectionate and funny. He’s almost always in a good mood, and he’s never met a stranger. But, his first year of life was extremely challenging.

His first three months were perfect. Normal infant stuff. But, at the 3 month mark, he developed a rash on his cheeks. This rash spread to his chest, the back of his knees, and eventually, the rest of his body. The first time I took him to the doctor about the rash specifically, she diagnosed him with eczema caused by a milk allergy. I was nursing him, so I immediately cut out all dairy from my diet. The rash persisted. And it grew to a full-body, unrelenting, swollen and angry red albatross.

Subsequent doctors’ visits were a guessing game. Our pediatrician prescribed steroids which improved the condition but only temporarily. She prescribed antibiotics in case it was bacterial. She told us to use topical creams. About the time we got the first round of steroids completed, my son caught the strep virus from my daughter, causing a major setback. More steroids and more antibiotics.

I had well-meaning friends and family come out of the woodwork with advice and questions. Everyone was understandably concerned. We tried every suggested cream, oil, essential oil blend, and home remedy. Allergy testing was suggested, and he tested positive for food allergies. Eradicating those items from his diet and mine seemed to help a bit, but his irritation was unrelenting.

In the middle of all of this, our family moved, thereby requiring a new pediatrician. Her suggestion was to do additional testing, which was uncomfortable for him and us but was ultimately a huge blessing because we found out what was going on. Basically, due to the amount of medication he had in his first year of life, combined with a (lighter) schedule of vaccinations, his little gut couldn’t handle the toxins from the medicines and his digestion was all out of whack. The doctor explained that the body’s entire immune system is controlled in the gut, and his rash was a manifestation of his imbalanced gut bacteria. She prescribed some medication and a non-dairy probiotic. He’s doing great today. He has some eczema patches here and there, but nothing compared to what he experienced the first few months of his life.

I want to write about the process because I can see how far we’ve come. The experience was humbling. People seemed to have no filter whatsoever. Comments and questions like “what’s wrong with his face?” and “oh my god, is he ok?!” were a daily occurrence. Many time I didn’t even want to leave the house. I just didn’t want people asking about it, and I was afraid of being judged.

The situation taught me a lot. First, my son is incredible. Who could blame him for being fussy or irritable during all of this? — but he wasn’t! He was happy, sweet, and very snuggley. He actually cries more now as a toddler than he did at that time. There were times that the rash was so severe and his face was so swollen his eyes were almost shut, and still, no complaining on his part. He’s a great example for all of us to be happy despite being so uncomfortable.

The situation also taught me to trust the Universe, and to trust myself. My emotions about it often got in the way, but in the moments that I was able to filter the well-meaning comments of onlookers and really tune into my own inner guidance, the message I received was that this was a process we all needed to go through. I knew that it would get better, and to keep working hard with the doctors until we got to the root of the problem. I got a great lesson in not giving up, even when results seem far away.

Today I hope that he outgrows his food allergies. We still continue with the probiotic, but he is doing really well. He’s beautiful and his eyes are wide open, bright, and shine with light. He’s strong and wild. Today, instead of shocked expressions and worrisome questions, we get comments about his beauty.

The other day I was in the grocery store and had both children with me. It had taken us a long time to get into the shopping basket and into the store. In the bread aisle, a woman approached us and she told me that she had watched us in the parking lot. She said, “I just wanted to tell you that you’re a really strong mother.”  As a mom, there have been a ton of moments when I felt anything but strong. But she’s right. I am strong. And I know I can get through anything now.

Shiny Sparks, February 12

This week my husband was out-of-town for 5 days, and I was basically a single SAH Mom. I realize there are families out there who do this on a consistent basis, but our family doesn’t, so when one parent is gone, our kids are definitely affected. My husband is extremely hands on, and we share responsibilities equally, so I was affected too.

I enjoy special one on one time with my children. But if I’m honest, I’m spoiled by the partnership my husband and I have created and after 4 days with no break at all from the littles, I was hungry for some quiet time. My youngest was actually sick all week and my oldest was extra needy because she was missing her daddy. On Saturday morning I had a moment where I felt like just getting in the car and running away! I’m sure I’m not the only mom in the world who has experienced this, and because of that, I want to share a few motivational quotes and images about motherhood that help ground me back into my heart center, and help me remember why I even chose to be a mom in the first place. Because let’s face it: motherhood is crazy, messy, challenging, frustrating, and burnout can come quickly.

As I’ve mentioned, part of the purpose for this blog is to share my own struggles so that others can find motivation and a deeper sense of purpose. Sometimes inspiration has to come from simple sources and within a 5 minute time frame. It’s not always a grand adventure. Here are my shiny sparks for the week.

kids 1

This image and quote helps me to take it easy on myself when I’m listing all the ways I think I can be doing better. The truth is that right now our little family is actually struggling financially, and we’re having a hard time replacing lost income. When I’m centered in myself spiritually, I know that money should be the least of my concerns, and this helped me to remember that. Kids are so simple, right? All they really want is our attention and love.

kids 2

Mother and Child, Xi Pan

Why does carrying a sleeping child to bed always feel so sacred?

kids 3

Mother and Child, Pablo Picasso

This image helps me remember the quiet place I have inside that knows the moment I’m in is exactly where I am supposed to be. And the outside world and my concerns about what’s next just disappear.

kids 4

The Drinking Jug, Joaquin Sorolla

My son is at that stage of wanting to do everything himself. In the moments I allow myself to let go and not be such a control freak, I see him becoming his own little person. It’s inspiring to see kids develop from infant to toddler to kid. I can’t wait to see what they become.

kids 5

“That 70’s Show” – Kitty

Ok, we’re all fibbing if we say we haven’t felt this way! This was me on Saturday morning!

klimt children

Mother and Child, Gustav Klimt

This image is one of favorite paintings in the world. Every time I see it, I feel my heart swell with the love I have for the two little souls that chose me to be their mom in this life. This painting successfully dampens my selfish nature and makes me want to work harder to connect to my children.

So, there it is. Motherhood kicks my butt sometimes, but I wouldn’t change it. I’ll tell you a secret: I actually never saw myself having children, but life had different plans and here we are with two strong souls to care for. I’m changing for the better, whether I like it or not.

If you’re a mom and you’re reading this, I hope you have an amazing week of ups and downs. I hope you can find the grand adventure within the mundane.

 

%d bloggers like this: