What you can learn from Disneyland!

Image

I was creating a activity book for my ten year old daughter for our long drive to Disneyland a couple weeks ago and came across some great Disney quotes…

So, I thought after a fun trip in Disneyland last week that I would write about some of the fun things I learned from Disneyland!!

“Hakuna Matata…it means no worries.” -Lion King    This is a great lesson for our little family. We are in between jobs, but decided to put worry aside and head to Disneyland for our daughter’s birthday. You only have birthdays once a year, so we lived by the quote Hakuna Matata…no worries & we will always have our memories together in Disneyland for her sweet, one and only 10th birthday!

“Faith makes dreams come true”  -The Rescuers     Where do dreams begin? They begin with each small step that takes you closer to anything your heart desires.  It is taking the first step that seems to be the biggest faith building moment.  I have been thinking about faith every single day, knowing that doors will open.  “Put your faith in what you most believe in.” -Tarzan

“A whole new world, a new fantastic point of view.”  -Aladdin   I am looking at each day as a new adventure, not knowing where our little family will be, if we will have to move, if Kate will be able to handle change…each day is a new day, full of surprises.

“The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you UNIQUE”  -Walt Disney  My daughter reminds me of this daily. She has this amazing ability to shine…like children do. She is fearless and full of enthusiasm. While we were in Disneyland she wanted to stand out, be noticed, so she danced everywhere (she has done this since she was little in any theme park). On her birthday she was given two Disneyland birthday buttons, which she wore proudly (on her shirt & hat–so everyone could see them) and enjoyed everyone telling her “Happy Birthday.” While we were watching some street performers, they asked for some people to join in, my daughter jumped at the chance. She didn’t hesitate and walked out into the middle of probably fifty people and began to dance with the performers. No fear!! Proud to be who she is and happy to shine, like she was meant to!!

“Happiness is a state of mind.”  -Walt Disney  I know we were happy enjoying ourselves on every little favorite, simple pleasure. We were happy eating our churros and Mickey ice creams every single day!! Our daughter was Happy waiting in 45 minute lines to see the princesses. My husband was Happy even though he was running between parks to get fast passes. After three days straight—I was Happy to find a quiet bench. You can find Happiness in everything!

“What if it’s not everything that I dreamed it would be? What do I do then? You get to find a new dream.”  -Tangled   There is always a bit of struggle in any type of change—new job, new baby, new move, new relationship…but you do your best to make things how you imagined, and if it seems tainted or not how you envisioned, then you begin again to find something you can cherish, something you can learn from, something you can take with you into a new moment. There truly always is a silver lining in all things, you may just need to look a little closer to see it.

“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.”  -Walt Disney   After walking around Disneyland for three days, there was no shortage of childlike adults sporting their sequined Minnie ears or pirate jack costumes. It is always fun to see families in the spirit of Disney with matching Disney shirts, little girls twirling about in their favorite princess dress and little boys fencing with their new plastic swords.  Watching people makes you  truly see the child within everyone and understand Walt’s sentiment that  laughter truly is timeless and has no age limit.

“It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell.”   Thank heavens for additional pages in our life story. We take for granted that we have another day, yet hopefully, we find a grateful heart for another page, a little more of our own story.

“Dreams do come true, and maybe something wonderful will happen.”  -Giselle, Enchanted   This is already true for everyone. Something wonderful happens every day…you get a gift…a new day, a new chance to begin again, another moment with your children, a new love to live, a new dream to fulfill, another story to tell…

I hope these thoughts will help you to make it a better day. That you will look at today a little differently and that your life will shine a little brighter.

Thank you Walt Disney for creating a place where people can let go of worries, find a little magic and believe in dreams. You truly are a man of inspiration.

Have a beautiful day.  -Heather

Advertisements

Ways to be Creatively INSPIRED!

Image

This one is for you Mom!!

My darling Mom went back to work after taking care of kids for forty years of her life. She is the ultimate creator…play write, song writer, has created boutiques, blogger, dancer, decorator,  published author, and a artist in a variety of mediums, all while being a mom and devoted wife. She has always been a women of ideas, loves the creative process and thrives in it. Going back to work has been a challenge for her creative balance and she has been feeling very unfulfilled in this area, so I thought I would dedicate this blog post to her. Mom, I hope you find inspiration in its ideas. I hope you will be able to catch your breath and take a moment to get creative, not just for you, but for all the people who will be touched by your talent. Love you.

Get outside–Take your camera and get outside. I have been trying to get out the last week and capture any moment of beauty, whether the clouds circle the sun or a leaf shimmers from the rain. Nature holds many treasures if you take the time to look. Go on a walk and look at all the textures, the details, the colors and hues.

Try something new–Is there something you have always wanted to try? What about that photography lesson you have put aside? What about a watercolor class? What about chalk drawing on pavement? What about a dance class (Zumba, Ballroom, Hula)? What about a cooking class?

Try something that doesn’t take a lot of effort–while out on my walk yesterday I drew a heart in the snow and took a photograph of it. You could sit down with a mandala coloring book and just color.

Go to the library or bookstore and look at books–the library/book store is a one stop food for the creative soul. You can find books about anything and everything. Sit down in the lounge and peruse through magazines, cook books, illustration or photography books, leather tooling or decoupage how to’s, the ideas are limitless.

Learn about what lights you up–When you are at the library or book store notice what books you are drawn to. You may have a sincere interest in water color, where a book about noodle making doesn’t do it for you. You will notice what interests light you up and then you can go from there on how to create something truly inspired. You will find true inspiration on projects that you get excited about, so don’t waste your time and energy on something that does NOT light you up!

Learn about something completely new to you-–take something like typography, calligraphy, art history, photography, multi-media, wood working, fabric, recycled art or a history of artists and learn something that seems to interest you.

Be inspired by others–Check out online portfolio sites and creative artistic ideas–check out sites like Flickr, Carbonmade, Behance, Pinterest, etsy (homemade items)

Your creative surroundings--When you are trying to write, paint, dance, cook, anything that comes from the creative medium within you, you need to be encouraged, motivated, inspired. You may be creating from a desk, a studio, a kitchen, the outdoors, an office, how are your surroundings? Do they have images and words that inspire, quotes that are dear to your heart, colors that soothe and reflect your needs, music that stirs your soul…look at where you create and make sure it is filled with the musings of your heart.

Stress free please–Stress is NOT the friend of creativity, so when you begin to create anything, make it a time when you are not affected by outside noise, whining children, distracting influences, time crunches and stress inducing limitations. Try to create space for your creativity and welcome it with open arms and a heart that is ready to be inspired.

Buy some magazines–go to a thrift store or local market and buy some magazines that may have something that may inspire you. Maybe you need to revamp your creative space, maybe you want an idea to paint your dining room table, maybe you want to try logo design or scrapbooking. Find something that appeals to you and buy the magazine. Look at it as an investment in your creativity. There is always something that will jump out and make you take a second look…a vibrant color, a jar full of sea glass, a pot full of succulents, a hammock hanging in a corner, a bow tie pasta beautifully prepared, a piece of jewelry that looks organic, a photograph that stirs your soul. Creativity is everywhere. You just need to take the time to look and find what inspires you.

Create a vision board–see my directions under my post category “Self LOVE” and the title is “Tap into the vision for your life”

Just do it! You may feel like you are in a creative rut, too tired, not inspired, but NOTHING will happen if NOTHING is done. Even if you set aside fifteen minutes a day to something creative then you can feel that something is being done. You can write daily pages, go on a fifteen minute walk and take a picture, you can listen to something inspiring (a Ted talk, podcast, some mozart, a creative youtube) for fifteen minutes, do daily exercises that get you creating…just do something to get the creative juices flowing.

I would LOVE and appreciate any other ideas that you have.

Happy Creating!! Love you Mom.

1 Act of Random Kindness makes a difference

Image

Hello and hope all is well in your world!! Today I wanted to share one of my favorite weeks in the whole year…RAK (Random Acts of Kindness week). Each year the organization randomactsofkindness.org has a week that inspires people to break away from the norm and share kindness in the world. It is usually a week in February (the month of love–fitting). This year it is FEBRUARY 11th through the 17th!! So I wanted to share some ideas and getting you thinking and planning to do this with those you love. Make it a fun event—plan for it & share it with friends & family, get out and make a difference in your community, your neighborhood, your family, your world!

I was lovingly reminded that this RAK week was coming up as I was watching the sweet movie “Evan Almighty” with my little daughter. It reminded me as Morgan Freeman spelled out the words ARK…1 ACT of RANDOM KINDNESS will make a difference.

So, in the spirit of LOVE, HAPPINESS and making a DIFFERENCE, here are some thought and ideas to enjoy your RAK week…

If you have read my blog you know I have a nine-year-old daughter who is an only child and one of my greatest fears is that she is going to grow up and be selfish!! Especially after reading an article about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who was an only child and personally admitted how selfish he had been. Every red flag went up, Am I doing enough to help this little person think of others??? 

Ever since she was little we have done random acts of kindness…made brownies for the fire department, created hand made valentines for a local old folks home, handed out teddy bears to crossing guards, bought cookies for the McDonald’s employees…

I am always trying to think of ways to get our little family out of ourselves and doing something for someone else. Hopefully we are heading in the right direction, it is an ongoing, loving lesson for our lives. When we think of others, the world is better for it! Our family is better for it!

This last year (during RAK week ) was especially fun because we got others to celebrate RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) with some neighbor girls.  We made a 15 foot banner filled with kindness ideas kids could do & we hung it at their school. In the true spirit of RAK week I made a flyer and sent it to a large local email list in hopes that people would feel the giving spirit & it worked! I received a call from one of my neighbors (that I did not know very well) and she was filled with enthusiasm at the idea of RAK week!

She expressed how her 38th birthday was this particular week and that she decided she was going to take her family and do 38 random acts of kindness in celebration of her birthday!!.

Outstanding idea!

I saw her the next week at a school function and she lit up!! It was soo wonderful to see someone so excited to share in their experience. She told me how they handed out quarters to kids at a local hamburger restaurant so they could use the candy machines. They bought food for the people behind them in the drive-thru, they took a bunch of water bottles and handed them out at a local rec center…the enthusiasm was infectious. I loved it!! Then she got really quiet and she said, “but the best part of it all was that my son (who I struggle with) truly got in the spirit of giving. He is kinder today, he was writing notes to our family, he was moved more than anyone by this experience.”

That was the best part! She even said that he wanted to do the same thing for his birthday!

What a beautiful thing!!

If we can do one thing for our kids…it is to be an example of love, get out and do something random for someone else. Teach them to write thank you cards, help them each week think of some way to serve someone else. Make a dinner for someone in need, take a batch of brownies to someone you don’t know, say thank you to EVERYONE! It is truly the little things that make a big difference.

Here are some additional ideas from the RAK website and other sources:  Clean up graffiti, Donate used books to a library, Give care packs to the homeless (or a blanket), Share your talent of music with the elderly, Help someone with yard work or snow removal, Let someone go in line in front of you, Write a note of appreciation to a teacher, Mentor a child who needs a friend, Pay for a coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks, Return shopping carts, Thank your police or fire department with a fun note or treat, Write a letter or email to someone who made a difference in your life, Visit an animal shelter, Take a bag of dog or cat food to your local shelter, pick up trash at the beach or nearby nature trail or neighborhood, Send a nice note thanking a soldier, Be a designated driver, Give someone flowers, Visit someone who is sick, Collect canned food and give it to your local food bank, Donate $1 to your child’s favorite charity, Start a charity day at your work & give the money to a good cause, Help someone with their groceries, Give hugs, Leave a nice note for your local mail carrier, Thank your child’s bus driver or crossing guard, Plant a tree, Give compliments, Send something inspiring to those you have on your email list, Be a nice driver on the road, Take shorter showers this week, SMILE, Start a piggy bank for a cause, Share something yummy with coworkers, Say thank you to your school principal and office help, Tell your parents (or send a letter or email) how much you appreciate them & everything they’ve done for you, Let your staff leave a little early from work & thank them for all they do, give flowers to be delivered with meal delivery programs, Make valentine hearts for the elderly home, Give someone a “heart attack” on their door (bunch of paper hearts that say nice things), Invite someone new in the neighborhood over for dinner, Have your child take a bunch of fun stickers or suckers and hand them out when the final bell rings & remind everyone that it is RAK week, genuinely thank your waitress for doing such a good job, make and share kindness bookmarks or give them to the school library to give away, Leave a $20 in an envelope and leave it for someone in need, give freely, spread LOVE everywhere you can…

-Spread Love, Heather

–not sure who to credit the picture, but thank you.

Exercise & its spin on depression

ImageIt’s the new year and every gym is busier than ever, so I thought this would be a good topic to talk about because it hits home with me. You always hear the benefits of exercise, but I am here to attest to the benefits it has on depression.

My husband has had swinging bouts with depression to a point where it almost ended his life & would have altered mine and my little girls forever. We struggled to find a solution that did not involve pills or long visits at a psych office, so he began working out. He began to feel better and even signed up and competed in numerous triathlons. It seems to be his magic, natural cure for the darkness. It brings out the hope of feeling good, the light that helps him deal with the stresses of life. I can literally see and feel a difference in him when he has not worked out for a week, his attitude, his irritability begin to creep in & I remind him gently that he needs to work out to feel better.

If you or someone you love struggles with depression or even a bad day, get them moving, get them doing something that will trigger the good chemicals in their body. I promise it will help.

Here are some good tips that I pulled from the Mayo clinic to help…

Try a happy hour to your health!

Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms

If you have depression or anxiety, you might find your doctor prescribing a regular dose of exercise in addition to medication or psychotherapy. Exercise isn’t a cure for depression or anxiety. But its psychological and physical benefits can improve your symptoms.

“It’s not a magic bullet, but increasing physical activity is a positive and active strategy to help manage depression and anxiety,” says Kristin Vickers-Douglas, Ph.D., a psychologist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

When you have depression or anxiety, exercising may be the last thing you think you can do. But you can overcome the inertia. Here’s a look at how exercise can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Plus, get realistic tips to get started and stick with exercising.

How exercise helps depression and anxiety

Exercise has long been touted as a way to maintain physical fitness and help prevent high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other diseases. A growing volume of research shows that exercise also can help improve symptoms of certain mental conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Exercise also may help prevent a relapse after treatment for depression or anxiety.

Research suggests that it may take at least 30 minutes of exercise a day for at least three to five days a week to significantly improve symptoms of depression. However, smaller amounts of activity — as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time — have been shown to improve mood in the short term. “So, small bouts of exercise may be a great way to get started if it’s initially too difficult to do more,” Dr. Vickers-Douglas says.

Just how exercise reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety isn’t fully understood. Researchers believe that exercise prompts changes in both mind and body.

Some evidence suggests that exercise postively affects the levels of certain mood-enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain. Exercise may also boost feel-good endorphins, release tension in muscles, help you sleep better and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It also increases body temperature, which may have calming effects. All of these changes in your mind and body can improve such symptoms as sadness, anxiety, irritability, stress, fatigue, anger, self-doubt and hopelessness.

If you exercise regularly but depression or anxiety still impairs your daily functioning, seek professional help. Exercise isn’t meant to replace medical treatment of depression or anxiety.

The benefits of exercise for depression and anxiety

Exercise has numerous psychological and emotional benefits when you have depression or anxiety. These include:

Confidence. Engaging in physical activity offers a sense of accomplishment. Meeting goals or challenges, no matter how small, can boost self-confidence at times when you need it most. Exercise also can make you feel better about your appearance and your self-worth.

Distraction. When you have depression or anxiety, it’s easy to dwell on how badly you feel. But dwelling interferes with your ability to problem solve and cope in a healthy way. Dwelling also can make depression more severe and longer lasting. Exercise can provide a good distraction. It shifts the focus away from unpleasant thoughts to something more pleasant, such as your surroundings or the music you enjoy listening to while you exercise.

Interactions. Depression and anxiety can lead to isolation. That, in turn, can worsen your condition. Exercising can create opportunities to interact with others, even if it’s just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood.

Healthy coping. Doing something beneficial to manage depression or anxiety is a positive coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol excessively, dwelling on how badly you feel, or hoping depression and anxiety will go away on their own aren’t helpful coping strategies.

Tips to start exercising when you have depression or anxiety

Of course, knowing that something’s good for you doesn’t make it easier to actually do it. With depression or anxiety, you may have a hard enough time just doing the dishes, showering or going to work. How can you possibly consider getting in some exercise?

Here are some steps that can help you exercise when you have depression or anxiety:

Get your doctor’s support. Some, but not all, mental health professionals have adopted exercise as a part of their treatment suggestions. Talk to your doctor or therapist for guidance and support. Discuss concerns about an exercise program and how it fits into your overall treatment plan.

Identify what you enjoy doing. Figure out what type of exercise or activities you’re most likely to do. And think about when and how you’d be most likely to follow through. For instance, would you be more likely to do some gardening in the evening or go for a jog in the pre-dawn hours? Go for a walk in the woods or play basketball with your children after school?

Set reasonable goals. Your mission doesn’t have to be walking for an hour five days a week. Think about what you may be able to do in reality. Twenty minutes? Ten minutes? Start there and build up. Custom-tailor your plan to your own needs and abilities rather than trying to meet idealistic guidelines that could just add to your pressure.

Don’t think of exercise as a burden. If exercise is just another “should” in your life that you don’t think you’re living up to, you’ll associate it with failure. Rather, look at your exercise schedule the same way you look at your therapy sessions or antidepressant medication — as one of the tools to help you get better.

Address your barriers. Identify your individual barriers to exercising. If you feel intimidated by others or are self-conscious, for instance, you may want to exercise in the privacy of your own home. If you stick to goals better with a partner, find a friend to work out with. If you don’t have extra money to spend on exercise gear, do something that is virtually cost-free — walk. If you think about what’s stopping you from exercising, you can probably find an alternative solution.

Prepare for setbacks and obstacles. Exercise isn’t always easy or fun. And it’s tempting to blame yourself for that. People with depression are especially likely to feel shame over perceived failures. Don’t fall into that trap. Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small. If you skip exercise one day, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure and may as well quit entirely. Just try again the next day.

Sticking with exercise when you have depression or anxiety

Launching an exercise program is hard. Sticking with it can be even harder. One key is problem solving your way through when it seems like you can’t or don’t want to exercise.

“What would happen if you went out to your car and it wouldn’t start?” Dr. Vickers-Douglas asks. “You’d probably be able to very quickly list several strategies for dealing with that barrier, such as calling an auto service, taking the bus, or calling your spouse or friend for help. You instantly start problem solving.”

But most people don’t approach exercise that way. What happens if you want to go for a walk but it’s raining? Most people decide against the walk and don’t even try to explore alternatives. “With exercise, we often hit a barrier and say, ‘That’s it. I can’t do it, forget it,’” Dr. Vickers-Douglas says.

Instead, problem solve your way through the exercise barrier, just as you would other obstacles in your life. Figure out your options — walking in the rain, going to a gym, exercising indoors, for instance.

“Some people have the idea that being physically active is supposed to be easy and natural,” Dr. Vickers-Douglas says. “Some think of it as just having enough willpower. But that really oversimplifies it and can make us feel like failures. You can’t just rely on willpower. Identify your strengths and skills and apply those to exercise.”

“Act as if you are and you will become such.”  -Leo Tolstoy
If you begin to believe in yourself, your possibilities and the direction you are taking your life, all will be well in health and happiness. Best wishes for new beginnings, new hopes.
-Love, Heather

Play.

62220_tumblr_lgtr7xlcjg1qgv5d0o1_500_large_thumb“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.”  

-Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” -Plato

As an adult you don’t play, besides the momentarily lapse between your child and her imaginary friends. To play as an adult to many is to lose credibility, to be…an “immature adult”, “someone who can’t be serious”, “someone who doesn’t take LIFE seriously.”

BUT, I recently read an article on the need to play…not just as children, but as adults. You need the spontaneity of choice, the thrill of being childlike, the freedom to let go of the stresses in your life. I am not by any means suggesting that you throw caution to the wind and rid yourself of all adult responsibility, but I am suggesting to let go of your adult ego (even for brief periods of time) and free your child within.

Did you know there is even a National Institute For Play (www.nifplay.org) and they stated the following on their site.

Play is the gateway to vitality.

By its nature it is uniquely and intrinsically rewarding. It generates optimism, seeks out novelty, makes perseverance fun, leads to mastery, gives the immune system a bounce, fosters empathy and promotes a sense of belonging and community. Each of these play by-products are indices of personal health, and their shortage predicts impending health problems and personal fragility.

Play is not just for children, it is necessary to have playful communication and interaction to

satisfy relationships, proactive work environments, stress relief and better personal health.

Play is powerful in connecting people with one another.

Science has shown how corporations who incorporate play into their environment become more successful.

Tips For Playing in Life:

-Do something that scares you

-Run through rain puddles, dance in the rain, walk in a down pour, enjoy the weather

-Dance under the stars

-Turn on some fun music and dance with your kids in the kitchen

-Pick up an old sport you loved when you were little…rollerblade, tennis, hike…

-Go skinnydipping in your pool or hot tub

-Look for free fun like local concerts, films, fairs, a swap meet

-Have a game night each week where you invite friends or family over

-Visit every baseball park you wanted to see when you were a kid

-Take on a new challenge…learn to finally play the piano, dabble in something new

-Sit in a cafe and watch people

-Embrace the simple things

-Dont worry about what someone else will think

-Release your childhood spirit…play

-Go play games at a local arcade, Climb a tree, Go indoor rock climbing, visit a zoo or aquarium, make a sandcastle, go sledding,Tap into your child within.

-Learn something new to you…the game of table tennis, chess, checkers, try parasailing, windsurfing, bodysurfing.

-Skip, like a little kid…one day I was listening to my iPod on my daily walking route. I was on a main street that all my neighbors drove home on. I was listening to a great song that made me want to move my body, I yearned to jump, to skip, to let the music play through me. For a moment I worried about who would see me, but I decided I didn’t care. I began to skip, I felt a surge of exhilaration, a feeling of letting go, a feeling of freedom from care of anyone watching me. I began to smile and skip even bigger, higher. I was free. The child within me soared, smiled and laughed all the way home. It was wonderful!!

Get creative…paint, sculpt, scrapbook, take pictures. Go to a movie alone. Go get a pedicure and have them paint your toes wild. Go to a nearby town that you have never explored. Find a local museum and enjoy the art. Go on a bike ride. Find a thrift store and buy something unexpected. Go to a garage sale or an antique shop. Go to a local garden and smell every variety of flower.

Some good hobbies that help you enjoy play while also combating stress: gardening, photography, scrapbooking, having a aquarium, puzzles, drawing, painting, knitting, playing the piano, writing, etc.

Another great way to play is to vacation. This is a very underused time to play!! People feel guilty for leaving work & taking time for themselves, but you need to look at it as an investment in yourself, your health and happiness.

Another reason many people don’t vacation is because they feel they don’t have the time or money. A good remedy for this…staycation! Take a few days & stay home, laze around, have a pajama day, make fun food, read a good book, get creative and take the time to enjoy some PLAY time. Some Stay home time.

Have some fun…get outside of yourself and PLAY. It’s a new year to make some new changes that will improve your life.

Best wishes and lots of PLAY, Heather

Get Creative!

628383_15013214The art of a people is a true mirror of their minds. -Jawaharlal Nehru

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.

-Andre Gide

I thought since I was talking about creativity & making vision boards that I should add some additional tips and tricks to get you moving in a NEW direction. There is a lot to be said about the creativity of the soul…

Here are some suggestions taken from an article 21 Ways to Be More Creative

by Christine Kane and some other good stuff by me!!

1 – Stop watching television

Or better yet, get rid of the damn thing. Any time I teach writing or creativity, this is one of the biggies. TV is a mind-killer. It numbs you. It fills you with emotionally-charged images and over-simplified solutions. It dulls you. Turn it off. Even if this idea scares you, turn it off.

2 – Take a 20-minute walk everyday

It’s easy to become driven about exercise. You go to the Y. You go running. You think that a 20-minute walk isn’t productive or worth much. Take a 20-minute walk and allow the world to just be. Watch things. Stop and smell things. Notice birds. Let the world unfold and show itself to you.

3 – Write with pen & paper (or pencil and paper)

Keep a journal. Do morning pages. Write in long-hand. Typing on a keypad into a computer doesn’t always open up that tactile sense-loving part of us that loves to create.

4 – Write songs to your pets

5 – Dance around the House

Put on old disco (Earth, Wind, and Fire, baby!), or new Madonna, or swing. Put it on loud. Dance

around your house while you make dinner. Or start the day shakin’ your groove thang.

6 – Walk in the rain

I haven’t owned an umbrella in about 10 years. I love the rain. I love walking in it. I wrote the song Everything Green after I hiked in the mountains in the pouring rain. I was journaling about how alive everything was, and I wrote “It was all just rain and mud and wild and green.” That’s how I got my CD title. Walking in the rain can be a happy thing. (Use an umbrella if you want. Rain on umbrellas makes a good sound.)

7 – Make a collage

Magazines. Some Yes Paste. A scrapbook page and lots of crayons and paints and stickers. (And thou.) This isn’t a vision board. It doesn’t have a purpose. It’s just for fun and beauty and making something. I love collaging. I’m not great at it. But I’ve gotten better and better at laying out the page and learning what colors and shapes I love. I always feel more alive when I do one.

8 – Make a list of things you love

My song Loving Hands (on my first CD) was born out of a journal exercise I did where I just wrote a long list of all the things I love. That song remains one of my most requested songs. I had so much fun thinking of things that delight me in the world. Finding feathers, finding pennies, the sound of big flags flapping in the wind, the smell of my cat’s fur when she’s been out in the snow (she smells like a big box of wool mittens). I remember reading it to a friend of mine who just sat there smiling and nodding his head. Even though this was years ago, I still remember how much fun I had making that list.

9 – Write 10 postcards

Go pick out some really cool postcards, and then go to a cafe somewhere, and order your Genmaicha Tea (Okay, get yourself a Latte if you want) and write postcards to friends and family.

10 – Get up early and watch the sun rise

11 – Listen to music you’ve never listened to before.

After I saw the movie Tortilla Soup, I downloaded a bunch of Latin music from iTunes. One of my favorite nights in my memory this year was a hot rainy night thick with humidity. My husband and I opened up all the windows and doors. We pressure cooked (I love our pressure cooker) some black beans, shared a froo-froo mixed drink and made a fantastic dinner while all of my new Latin and Tejano music was cranked up. It was one of those really happy nights, partly because I loved discovering new music.

12 – Eat with your hands

Be a kid again. Make a meal and put the silverware back into the drawers. Eat with your hands. Have some friends over for a silverwareless dinner.

13 – Be quiet

Light a few candles after dark and just sit. Don’t meditate if you don’t want to. Just sit quietly and listen. Watch the candles. Allow for more silence in your life.

We are a noisy people. I hear people say they can’t stand silence. But it is in silence where we can hear the voice of our creativity. Maybe not at first. But it will come.

Drive with no music on. Make dinner in silence. Pay attention to your hands as you slice the veggies. Just be quiet.

14 – Take a nap

15 – Take photos. Real photos. Not digital photos.

My favorite camera is a Pentax K1000. It’s completely manual, and it’s how I learned to take pictures. I’m not very good. When I first moved to Asheville, I used to walk around town on Sundays (the whole town was closed up then) and take pictures of all the buildings. These photos are now a treasure to me because nothing is the same anymore. (Every building has been bought, remodeled and now is filled with stores that sell trickly fountains, Buddahs, and things that smell grassy.)

Take pictures of anything. And have fun in the old method of actually getting your film developed and the excitement of flipping through photos you haven’t seen yet.

16 – Make an event out of watching the full moon come up

One of the things I love about my husband is that he’s always looking for the perfect place to watch the full moon come up. He’ll make an event out of it. We pile in the car and go to this one field or to a bench on the college campus and sit and watch the moon rise.

17 – Read poetry aloud

Poetry is meant to be read aloud. The words and phrases will tilt your brain and open doors like you never thought they would. My favorites: Mary Oliver, e.e. cummings, Rumi, Pablo Neruda, Sharon Olds, Barbara Brooks, and Alicia Suskin Ostriker. There are lots of collections of poetry if you don’t want to pick just one.

18 – Go see a play or live music or live anything

Get out of the house and experience creativity. Avoid mega-blockbuster-Hollywood movies whose trailers begin with the deep gravelly voice saying, “IN A WORLD_” (And then bombs go off and Mel Gibson appears)

Live performance is an exchange. As an audience member you get to participate. I know this because I perform. Every night is different. Everything is about the audience. You receive so much more energy from live shows. Go see the symphony, even the small local symphony. See a play. See some improv. There is so much life on a stage, so many improvisational moments, so much about authenticity. You can’t help but take it in.

19 – Visit a gallery

See another artist’s creation. The downtown of any city is bound to have some great galleries. You don’t have to buy anything. Just experience the artistry of someone gifted in glass blowing or pottery or woodwork.

20 – Write a letter

When was the last time you wrote a letter? I just got a long letter from one of the women who participated in my last retreat. It was funny. And it was fun to read. And I kept thinking, “Damn. It’s been too long since I’ve experienced this.” Every time I write a letter, I feel clearer and happier. Not only is it more fun to make something for someone else, it’s also just a way to get out of yourself.

21 – Stop watching television

This is an important one. It bears repeating. There are so many better things you can do than watch American Idol

I hope during this time of reflecting on a new year that you will take the time to create, to go within to understand yourself better and know that divine gifts lie within.
Best wishes for a creative January.
-Heather

Gratitude Challenge

My first post is about gratitude. I know everyone is talking about gratitude, but I am not sure anyone is actually taking it to heart. So, I am going to put a challenge out there to anyone who would like to join.

THE GRATITUDE CHALLENGE…

November is the month of giving thanks and we often neglect to take the time between the hustle of the holidays to give thanks. I would like to invite you to take a gratitude challenge through the month of November.

Keep a journal or notebook by your bed and each evening before you go to sleep write down 3-5 things you are grateful for. That is it!!

This is also a wonderful exercise for kids. Gather your family around your bed and ask each person what they are grateful for & keep a family gratitude journal.

It is a small thing that will make a big difference. You will feel more connected, grateful, loving, happy and truly be in the spirit of giving thanks during the season of Thanksgiving.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking…grateful for my healthy family, my breath, that I can walk and run, have food readily available at a grocery store, warm home, warm showers, clean drinking water, fingers that can write, to be able to go to school, parents, to be able to see and hear, for friendships, for pets, books to read, inspired people, hugs, someone to love, favorite foods, music, freedoms, sunsets, stars, the sun, to be creative, to have a talent, nature, religion, to make my own choices, the gift of life, etc.

Happy gratitude!
Please do the 30 day challenge and let me know how it goes. I would love to hear your comments. Let me know if you felt more happy, connected, thankful.
Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.