No Takebacks

“I’ll trade you my Barbie for 2 of your My Little Ponies.”

“Ok, but you can’t have Twilight Pegasus.”

“Well you can’t have Barbie and The Rockers, just one of the regular ones.”

“Ok.”

“Ok.”

“No takebacks!”

My sister and I championed this phrase. It was our secret handshake.

Then, when we were older:

“I won’t tell Mom you set the trash can on fire if you let me borrow your car. And no takebacks.”

My sister is 19 months younger than me, so if I accepted this offer I’d be breaking the law. And really, she was playing dirty with this negotiation.

me and jenni pumpkin

I hadn’t set the trash can ablaze on purpose. After school one afternoon I was in my parent’s office, talking on the phone, probably to a boy. I was probably chattering, excitedly. He was probably pretending to listen. I’m not a person who just sits and talks on the phone. I fill the space with a mindless action: doodling, shuffling a deck of cards, typing random sequences on a word document, and then when I got older, smoking cigarettes. This time, I was lighting matches. I’d strike the match, watch it burn down until the flame almost met with my fingers, and then I’d shake it out until the ember became a black trail of sulfur smoke. I guess I didn’t let one of the matches burn out long enough because my one-sided chatter halted when I smelled the rancid odor of burning paper. I hastily mumbled “I’ve gotta go!” to my boyfriend, and barely got the phone back on the hook when the smoke detector started screaming.

My sister came running. “Chris! What happened?!”

“I accidentally set the trash can on fire!”

We were latchkey kids. A common part of being a kid in the 1980’s. Our bus stopped in front of our house at around 4 p.m. and my mom didn’t get home until almost 6 pm, so our late afternoons were filled with freeform adventure, mostly in the form of television, unsupervised snacking, and long phone calls with boys, which our mother hated.

Instinctively, I ran to my parent’s room and grabbed the jug of distilled water that was always on the iron board. I doused the flames.

The fire alarm screamed, and my sister was panicking. It was a brutal and invasive irritation, and I think we both feared that somehow there would be some sort of record that it had been set off. That our dad would come home early from one of his week-long business trips and know it had happened. We had no idea how to stop a smoke alarm from alarming, so we did what I must’ve seen on television: we hit it with the end of a broom handle. The scenario is always the same in these fictions: the broom handle hits the alarm case, the alarm case breaks, the batteries fall out, and the noise stops.

I frantically jabbed at the white plastic disc, which was attached to the ceiling. It was harder than the movies made it look. I could hardly reach it even with an extension. I failed to stop the screeching and instead punched broom-handle sized holes in the ceiling all around the smoke detector. I can’t remember how we got the damn thing to stop wailing, but it eventually quieted. We waited for the phone to ring, for the fire department to show up, for Dad to pull into the driveway, but instead it was just silence, my sister and I, the smell of burnt paper, and pure adrenaline.

I told her, “I need to clean up the trash can.”

I returned to the scene only to see that all the water I’d used to extinguish the flames had leaked out the bottom of the rickety, old school metal bin. Dark, sooty stains puddled out onto my mom’s newly installed, light gray carpet. And the clock was ticking. She was due home in less than an hour.

We devised a plan in which I held the trash can over a bucket while we carefully lifted our contraption and moved it down the hall, down the stairs, wincing at every slosh, until we got it out the back door and dumped the soot in the mulched garden bed. I used the water hose to rinse out the remaining evidence from the bin, and my sister dried it. Then it was back upstairs to the office, where we used old cleaning towels and Formula 409 to frantically scrub the soot out of the carpet. Next, I furiously vacuumed the spots to dry the carpet, begging it would be sufficient to go unnoticed.

“What about the holes in the ceiling?!” my sister cried. Her anxiety in the moment only proves our eternal bond, despite our ongoing sibling rivalry. She had not caused any of this carnage. If our efforts to cover up my dumbass actions were unsuccessful, she wouldn’t have been the one in trouble.

me and jenni redrum

“Well, Daddy always uses spackle for holes,” I said.

So, it was back down the stairs, out into the garage, where we madly searched for the miracle paste. Back upstairs, my sister held the small step ladder while I clumsily globbed into and over the holes, praying no one would notice. My broom handle attack had also cracked the face of the smoke detector, so I spackled that too. When I noticed the shade of white in the spackle was different than the detector’s hue, I used my craft paints to try and blend the color.

Finished, sweaty, and out of breath, we stood in a weird, silent expectation just long enough to realize it still smelled like smoke and burnt paper, so we turned the ceiling fan on and opened all the office windows.

We put away our crude instruments. We waited.

My mom got home at her normal time. She was happy to see us. We talked about school, and ate dinner, and watched our evening programs, and told our dad goodnight from whatever city he had traveled to that week and got ready for bed. Throughout the evening, my sister and I shared furtive looks, expecting that any second Mom would ask us why the carpet was wet, or why the windows were open upstairs, or why all the distilled water was gone, or why we were being so nice to each other…but she didn’t. It was a wildly uneventful, normal suburban evening in middle America.

me and jenni santa

So, years later when my sister brought up the small fire as a bargaining chip to take my new car, and my brand spanking new driver’s license, I agreed. Not because I was thought I’d be punished or because I believed she’d actually tell on me. I agreed because despite our complicated sisterhood, and our startling differences, she’s always been my partner in crime. This pattern of negotiation created a stable bridge for us to be united. She’s the only person in the world who really gets my wacko genius, and she’s the first to step up and protect it. Every time. Unconditionally. When we’re united, we’re unstoppable. My trouble is her trouble. Her pain is my pain. Forever and ever. No takebacks.

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Nurture Your Light

 

___________________

nurture your light

Nurture Your Light: A Creative Spa

This package is an immersive day of nurturing YOU and your Light and includes:

  • 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.

 

Investment:

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 5th.

If you need a 2-Pay Option, I offer 2 payments of $155: 1st payment by May 5th, 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

817-781-5267

Mycirclegame.com | mycirclegame@outlook.com

 

 

Shiny Sparks: Miranda Chop

This week’s inspiration highlight is provided with awe and acceptance by Miranda Chop. She takes us on a short but no less profound journey into her creative process as she answers the question, What Inspires You?

_____________________________________

I’m never short on inspiration. It is everywhere, all the time, if you know where to look, but more importantly, if you know how to see. I find it in all the usual suspects: new spring growth, the stories our friends tell, our lived experiences, the waxing and waning of the moon. Life seems to conspire to inspire us. While the messages are prolific and constant, they are easy to miss in the chaos of every day living. No matter what shape our lives take, we tend to bury ourselves into them. The appointments, chores, errands, surviving and staying afloat take so much energy, there is often little time for grounding or conscious awareness. In these moments, when I’ve finally reached my limit of outward motion, I take solace in the inner stillness of “what is.” Sometimes this means accepting completely the idea that, in this moment, washing the dishes is my highest spiritual path. I focus on the movement of the broom as I sweep the floor, or on the pock-marked and fading wood, scratched and in desperate need of re-finishing. If the temperature is right, I immerse myself in nature. Walking barefoot in the dirt and grass, planting my feet firmly, I imagine strong roots coming out of them and burrowing deep into the earth. Even sitting with a green houseplant and crying it out when necessary. Plants are great listeners, never interrupting and always holding space for evolution. Nature is the perfect spiritual guru because it accepts where it is in every moment and recognizes the cyclical nature of the universe. It helps me to remember no matter how bad things feel, or even how good they feel, this too shall pass, and return. Ride the waves, the ocean says. Dig deep while reaching higher and higher, chime the trees. Sit in the stillness of the everchanging flow of life like a river stone, letting the water flow under, around, and sometimes through us. All the magic we could ever need is hidden in the plain sight of present moment awareness.

shiny sparks_miranda

Miranda Chop is a lifelong writer from Texas intent on using her innate pioneering spirit to initiate change and transformation in her own life and others’. Follow her on Twitter @MirandaChop and see more of her work here:

North Star Press

The Tattooed Buddha

Hatch Words

Confidence Losing

My 6-year-old daughter came screaming into the house as I put the final dinner dishes in the dishwasher. The clang of the appliance’s gate clattering our dirty tableware synchronized perfectly with the front door of the house, bursting open with my child’s wail. Startled, I asked if someone had been hurt.

My daughter sobbed through her story – a misunderstanding had happened on her bike ride with her brother and it had escalated to this. My daughter is sensitive – there are no warning signs to signal an impending meltdown. She accelerates from happy kid to crisis in mere seconds and it can be immobilizing for everyone. And it can be challenging to unpack her upset, to find the cause of it, and help her center herself again.

But I persevered with her. And she did calm down enough to tell me what had happened to upset her. She had gotten her direction all mixed up. She thought home was one way, but she was really going in circles. No one was listening to her. She wanted to come back home through the alley instead of the street, her brother wasn’t listening to her, and she freaked out thinking they were lost.

“I have a feeling no one in the world has ever felt!” she cried.

“And what feeling is that?” I asked.

“Confidence losing.” she said. More tears. Big and fat rolling waves from a deep well inside. “I lost my confidence and I’ll never get it back.”

child-sitting-1816400__480

In that moment I felt the impulse to correct her. To tell her that losing confidence is something everyone faces and it’s a big part of the game of life. I thought for a split second that sharing a story about all the ways I’ve lost confidence would help. But in the next split second that feeling was overtaken by a knowing that she needed me to let her feel it, and all I could do was hold space for her experience and be an ear and unconditional heart. She shared a lot of what was on her heart. I asked questions instead of giving answers. She calmed down and we agreed on a plan: when she felt like she was losing her confidence, her ‘confidence losing’ feeling, she’d take a few deep breaths and try again. Her bike ride drama had in fact been only a trigger for a bigger experience that had happened at school, and a lingering fear she’s been carrying that she can’t do several things she wants to do.

This is pretty big talk for a 6-year-old, but that’s my kiddo. She’s always been wise beyond her age, and has a deeper understanding of the bigger picture. When she’s allowed the space to just have a meltdown – if I love her through an upset instead of punishing her or judging the events, we have conversations about some pretty deep concepts. I know I’m planting seeds of confidence and fortitude. I refuse to make her sensitivity wrong.

I did eventually share with her a few times I’d lost my confidence, how I had to practice some things many times before I felt strong enough to trust myself to do them. We agreed she can practice until she’s stronger, and she began her bedtime routine with a much happier vibe.

But the conversation stuck with me. We hear a lot of disembodied motivational quotes and watch inspirational success stories, but how often do we think of the minutia? The day-to-day grind of practice and commitment required to achieve our goals and dreams? How quickly we lose our own sense of confidence and accomplishment over trivial things – someone offers feedback that is hard for us to hear, or we don’t see the results of our efforts for what seems like a very long time.

self-confidence-2121159_1280

The process of idea to actualization can be a brutal roller coaster of doubt and uncertainty. Sometimes, we do fail. We have to start over from the beginning or scrap a plan entirely. Sometimes the things we’re asking for just do not happen. Sometimes they do happen, but the results are so different from what we expected that we wonder why we ever even wanted ____________.

Lately I’ve come to a new understanding for myself. I don’t ever fail, no matter how it appears in the moment. If I don’t get the results I’m after, I know I can look at the situation from a different angle. I can let go and ask what else is possible. If I’m still working on myself and fighting for my own happiness and dreams, then I’m never failing. It’s a judgement I’m no longer willing to abuse myself with.

I hope this is a lesson my daughter can internalize because she sees me doing it every day, and not because I offer platitudes. I hope I can be the person I know I can be, and that by BEing that my daughter knows that her ‘confidence losing’ is just a tiny blip on an otherwise beautiful trajectory.

 

 

 

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?

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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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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