At the beginning of 2016, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish by this year. A 2-year plan. The idea came about after a coffee date with a friend. I used my catch-up update to complain about how stuck I felt. I couldn’t see any signs of forward motion in my life. My friend asked me what I’m working toward, to explain it simply, and when I couldn’t, they offered the list idea to help me get out of my funk. Dream big. Be specific. Write it down. Keep it safe.
I was resistant to the idea, which is often my reaction when faced with a possibility that will be good for me. I procrastinated and argued in my head for all the reasons it would be a waste of time. So when I decided to try it, I worked hard on it. I thought about what my part of the list looked like for days before I shared the idea with my husband. The opportunity presented itself one evening while we were drinking beers on a rare date night. When I explained it, my husband said he wanted to do it, maybe it’ll help, so we kept drinking and we had an honest, eye-opening talk. By the end of the night we had composed a rough sketch of our dream life on a beverage napkin. It was fun. We laughed and held nothing back. I remember feeling like a teenager. My whole life ahead of me. Anything was possible. Happy in love. When we got home, I found an envelope, rewrote the napkin scrawl into a legible list, and sealed it all inside. I wrote “2018” on the front with a little flourish underneath.
2018 is halfway over now, so a few weeks ago I decided to open the envelope and read the list. Correction. I opened the envelope after a friend pestered me to, after listening to me moan about how my life doesn’t seem to be going the direction I had hoped or planned. The same friend who had suggested the list over coffee in 2016. Again, I resisted the advice. I argued for its failure. I worked as hard on opening the envelope as I had creating the list in 2016. I was certain that when I opened it, I’d unleash a list of unaccomplished fantasies. I anticipated a swell of regret.
Instead of disappointment, I felt surprising and comforting relief. I have accomplished a few things on my list, and the things I haven’t completed, I’m making consistent progress toward. There are even a few things listed that I wonder why I haven’t done them. In hindsight, they’re relatively simple or small universal asks, and I still have time. I was astonished. Whatever sort of magic was activated the night we penned our dreams is still working.
I can see my consistent effort alive in the list, and I’m not so ready to give up. I see that I’m not stuck, I just don’t like the process. I want the process to be blatant: dreams + efforts = instant results. I want everything all the time and I want it now. In that hunger, I forget my expanded view. I get distracted by my limitations, my day to day reality, and the shiny objects of life. Momentary diversions that take hold for a time but don’t ultimately contribute to my bigger picture. This is the pattern of ersatz fulfillment. Then I have some sort of shakeup, like this list, and I see things with a broader awareness again.
When I opened up that envelope, I uncovered a list of lies I tell myself: lies of self-doubt, lies of memory, and the lies of not enough. I lie to myself that I don’t know what I’m doing, or how to do it. That I’ll never actually reach these goals, despite daily evidence to the contrary. The lie that my process is not enough to be proud of, or that there’s some sort of end game. That at some point I’ll run out of dreams or goals, or the teenage grandeur will fade. Or that I’ll forget what I’m fighting for.
The things on the list, the dreams and goals – I don’t think they’re even my destination. The achievements and experiences I’m asking for are not the point. Maybe they’re sign posts along the way – confirmations that my future is happening right now. That the future I know is possible is building right along with me. I’m not asking for tangible results. I’m asking for the persistent, palpable, rhythm of creation. The life spark. The elusive zest. I’m asking for everything all the time.
He adds items to our luggage after I think we are finished packing for a trip. I say we won’t need it. I say we should pack light. I always say that. I tire easily when preparing for a trip. My excitement usually peaks, then crashes into irritability and fatigue right before we start to load the car. I gripe about why we’re taking so many bags. Why it takes so much time and effort to pack the car. He is always right about the last-minute items. I am always appreciative. “I’m so glad you thought to bring that,” I’ll say. He never says “I told you so.”
He was a Boy Scout and then an Eagle Scout: a childhood career of citizenship, commitment, survival skills, and “Always Be Prepared, Always Do Your Best.” He is still an Eagle Scout. I was in the Girl Scouts for less than a year. Like many of my childhood interests, I quit after one season. I still find it hard to persevere.
He is our children’s playmate. I am the one who nurtures and organizes our flock. It isn’t that I don’t like to play. It’s more that I’ve forgotten how. Our daughter will invent a game and he will see the whole picture, enthusiastically synthesize her vision, and they will enter the new world of their creation. I struggle to unearth the child I’ve buried inside. On the rare occasions that she does come out, we are late to the party. If I am honest I should confess – I used to resent this. Now, I’ve come to accept, even love, my role as observer. If I watch long enough I will learn the secret that only they seem to know. If I watch long enough, I’ll grow out of my fears and join the fun.
But even before parenthood, he taught me about adventure. Once, in the very early days of our relationship, during one of our first out-of-town trips together, we found out that one of our favorite musicians was playing in the same town. We were visiting my parents. I still felt young enough to need my father’s permission to go, and was nervous to ask. Requests for impromptu fun were tricky with my Dad.
I waited in anticipation: Did he enjoy our visit? Does he like him? (PLEASE LIKE HIM) Is he in a good mood? Is he worried about me?
He said yes! And then – I lost my mind. We didn’t go to the concert. I cited our early morning departure and low cash flow as evidence to the idea’s absurdity. Why did he agree with me? Why didn’t we go? What were we thinking?
18 years later he surprised me on my birthday with a ticket to see the same artist. He stayed home with the kids – our son was still an infant. It wasn’t until I got to the concert that I recognized a sneaky fear that I would not assimilate to my younger self. Had motherhood, many years of marriage, and life in the suburbs altered my reality that much? Had the childhood part of me been eradicated? Snuffed out during the process of growing up?
But, at the show, I was 19 again. Safe in the familiar landscape. Anonymous in the dark, smoky venue. The music started. Goosebumps. Joy. Youth. This music gets me. The songs written just for me. He is not here – my partner, sidekick, inspiration. My co-parent, co-pilot, co-conspirator, with whom everything is brighter and more fun. Was he off on an adventure with our daughter? Castaways on a princess pirate ship crashed on a cookie island?
He easily transitions from work to play. I am almost always thinking about work. But now, our adventures include 2 small people, all of them propelling me to let go. With them, with him, we seesaw between our early days and the future we’re creating. And despite our differences, we are doing it all together. He and I.
This is a funny but true reminder to never give up. If you have an idea, it’s because it needs to be in the world, and you’re the person to share it. Sending you all the “I can do this!”
#mycirclegame #goodideas #inspiration #creativitymatters #youmatter #dontgiveup #shareyourwork #shineyourlight
If you would like to be a part of the 2nd and 3rd book in my children’s book series about how we can use our 5 senses to share, please visit my crowdfunding page.
In this week’s installment of ‘Shiny Sparks,’ I spoke with Meredith Myers (The Majestik Lioness). Meredith is a heart-based healer and teacher of metaphysical wisdom, meditation, and self-worth. I asked her how she maintains her connection to spirituality.
What helps me live consciously?
Do you have a copy of my children’s book “Your Hands Can Change The World!”
Did you know that I also offer an educational resource full of activities to deepen and extend the lessons in the book: “Use Your Hands to Share: Exercises for Hearts & Hands.”
Are you an educator, group leader, home-schooling parent, or passionate about educating children with a positive, proactive outlook?
I offer an E-Book bundle perfect for keeping your kiddos busy during the summer. I’d love to share it with your family.
Here’s a free preview of one of the discussion questions you can use right away!
I’d love to hear what your kiddos came up with during the discussion.
Share their responses in the comments!
This is the fourth installment of the new blog series, ‘Shiny Sparks.’ Today we hear from lifestyle blogger, Dakotah Hale. Here’s her take on maintaining inspiration.
“What Keeps Me Inspired”
I am surrounded by inspiration all around me. From the feather that I spot on the street to the birds flying in the sky. Nature, people, the landscape around me-everything. As a blogger and somebody with a creative background I am constantly in awe and in thought of beauty in everything. I find this to be a wonderful way to experience life. When I first start my day I like to wake up and immediately say five things that I am grateful for before my feet even reach the floor. This allows me to wake up inspired and ready to start my day. I then move on to doing my five minutes of morning meditation where I focus on quieting my mind and truly reflecting from within. This is a huge opportunity for me in the morning that allows me to really put my best foot forward and be in the right mindset.
After my morning routine I like to move on to getting ready for the day. Since I have a 9-5 job during the week I have to really be mindful of when I can focus on my blog and let my creative juices start to flow. I do my blog work at night and on the weekends where I give myself permission to let the inspiration flow from within. I truly love doing my blog and I believe that when you love something it is very easy to always stay inspired. However, if I do hit a block in the creative road I simply take walks to really clear my head and ask the universe to allow me to get refocused and re-energized. This usually helps to get me back on track and back to doing what I love. The recipe for staying inspired is to simply do what you love and surround yourself with people that love and support you.
Dakotah Hale is the founder of ‘Elephant Shoes,’ A love & lifestyle blog that is dedicated to inspire you to love and create everything you have ever dreamed of. After all, when you whisper “Elephant Shoes” it silently appears that you are saying “I love you” from far away.
Dakotah currently resides in Dallas where she is constantly on the search for new wellness hacks and focusing on spreading peace and love online as well as in the community.
Nurture Your Light: A Creative Spa
This package is an immersive day of nurturing YOU and your Creative Light. Are you struggling with repetative patterns or feeling a little stuck in areas in your life? Are you hoping to reignite a hobby or skill you enjoyed ‘Once Upon A Time?’ When was the last time you took a day just to honor you and your creative sparks?
I have created a special workshop package just for you.
- We’ll start with an Access Consciousness BARS Session. This is a gentle, hands on experience that is relaxing and nurturing. After the session you will feel relaxed and nurtured. There are 32 points on the head that when gently can help you release limitations and blockages that hold you back from receiving everything you know is possible. Is there an area in your life you’d like to change? Do you feel stuck or like you’re repeating the same patterns over and over again? Are you struggling with depression/anxiety, AD/HD? The Access BARS can help you create change!
- Next, I’ll take you through my loving and expansive Intuitive Journaling Workshop: “Write to Change Your World!” What is Intuitive Journaling? Intuitive Journaling will help you clear out your past, and begin the healing process. This workshop will expand your energy and open the channels of writing and creation for YOU – even if you are not a writer. Learn how heart-based journaling will help you answer questions, overcome challenges, and experience a deeper connection with your own intuition and soul guidance. What to Expect: This is a one-hour workshop during which we use guided meditations, journaling exercises, and discussion to connect to a deeper place of creation. Participants will receive a handout with the tools and process used in the workshop for further exploration.
- Then, you’ll receive a Reiki healing session that includes a special crystal layout just for you. Reiki is universal light force healing, received through the Reiki practitioner. Reiki is an intelligent energy that knows exactly where to go for each person receiving it. Reiki is gently, non-invasive, and feels relaxing and nurturing. You can receive Reiki for any desired result.
- And finally, I’ll guide you through an ‘Energy Board’ experience to help you follow through and actualize everything you know is possible. Let go of the outdated idea of the ‘Vision Board’ and allow me to take you on an elevating artistic journey of discovery and joy. In this workshop, we will work with the energy you are trying to create in your life while putting together a creative collage. Don’t worry if you’re not feeling confident in your artistic skills! There is no formal training required, and I will guide you through every step of the process.
- Also included: soothing aromas in the form of essential oils, yummy snacks and treats, lots of bubbly water and joy and laughter.
This package is valued at $413, but because I am committed to helping people reach their full potential, I am offering it for $272 if booked and paid by May 15th.
If you need a 2-Pay Option, I offer 2 payments of $155: 1st payment by May 15th, remainder due on date of Spa experience.
Now Booking for dates in May and June! Schedule your time HERE.These creative spa experienced will be held at a private location in the Dallas/Richardson area. If you require a location near a specific area, we can accommodate that for a small additional fee. Please ask!
Would you like to take this workshop with a group of friends? That is also possible! Please ask!
Ready to invest in Your Light? BOOK Your Creative Spa Day HERE.
A PayPal invoice will be sent after you have scheduled your time.
Cristee Cook | Author and Intuitive Writing Facilitator
Mycirclegame.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
This week is the third installment of the new Shiny Sparks series, and we hear from MC Dalet about the power of music. MC Dalet provides a snapshot into his creative process: music is his guide, his healer, and an expansive tool to fuel his own creations.
I can work anywhere. In fact, a piece often pops into my mind, and I immediately jot down what I can, wherever I am. I work in spurts, and sporadically. But if I need to jump-start a creative session, my fuel of choice is music. I suppose it would be trite to say that I draw my inspiration from music were I strictly a lyricist, but that’s hardly the case. By career I’m an academic, building scholarly articles, presentations, and classes. I am a poet, a playwright, and as of late, I’ve written a fair amount of speculative fiction. No matter the mode or genre I’m spinning I find myself searching for the rhythm of the thing as much as I am for language, and I buckle down best at night, when the beautiful but raucous voices of my small children fall silent to slumber and the inaudible noise of emails and tasks take a pause. In the darkness, the light is revealed–there is clarity and inspiration. I sit on my back porch beneath a canopy of trees, the rustling of their leaves and the wind (or the insects) a buzz of white noise, cleansing the sonic palate. Inspired by urban nature I begin a generative process by throwing on some music. Headphones on, I brainstorm, sketch, and draft wildly in bits and pieces, phrases and rough, swirling thoughts. There’s no lyrical bleed-over. Though sometimes song subjects do nudge content, my content generally comes from the day’s memory banks and wild imagination now blending with the mood and cadence of my chosen musical input, be it synth-laden Rush, the distorted folk of Neil Young, the driving pound of Tool, the wandering movement of Edie Brickell, or whatever just seems right. After a few songs, or one side of a record, silence. Everything coalesces into its own unique rhythm and full drafts emerge. I’ll edit in the light of day, when the Dreamtime gives way to tasking. For me, writing is a rhythm. When I remember that life is a jam session, all I have to do is find the riff I need, let pen hit paper, and make it sing.
MC Dalet holds a Ph.D. in humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas and teaches humanities and English at Tarrant County College. He has presented his scholarship and performance pieces, which focus on performativity and the interdependence of life and art, in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. As a performer, he has trod the stage as an actor, fallen off buildings as a stunt performer, and raised a ruckus as a percussionist and (sometimes) vocalist with Mule Dixon, Fish Fry Bingo, and Shotgun Friday (https://www.facebook.com/ShotgunFridayTX/; https://shotgunfriday.bandcamp.com/releases). He is currently writing a scholarly book and working on a solo album with the help of the band Straight 2 Video. His poetry, short fiction, and drama have appeared in Marine Creek Reflections, New Plains Review, and Sojourn and on his Facebook page (https://m.facebook.com/MCDalet/). Dalet is a regular contributor in Essay Club (https://www.facebook.com/EssayClub/) .