Drawing Your Way to Your Dreams

As a lifelong insomniac, I decided to make a sketch of me sleeping peacefully in the future ūüôā

What if I told you your ideal future starts with a single drawing?

That’s exactly what Patti Dobrowolski suggests in her TED talk “Draw Your Future.” ¬†She says that if you draw the reality that you want, your brain will find a way to make it happen.

Don’t worry about whether you are good at drawing. ¬†Just make the sketch specific to exactly what you want your future to look like. ¬†Remember to draw yourself happy ūüôā ¬†And then color your drawing in with vibrant colors. ¬†Because the more vivid the picture, the better your brain will respond.

The key is to follow these three steps: see it, believe it, and then act on it.

This technique isn’t just for individuals, like artists and entrepreneurs, either. ¬†Big name companies are using this method to get their employees motivated to find solutions for team projects. ¬†It brings new meaning to the phrase “Two heads are better than one.”

What does your future look like?  Draw it and find out!

Above Your Nerve

Emerald Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park

I recently blogged about the movie “Wild” featuring Reese Witherspoon, based on the memoir of¬†Cheryl Strayed’s journey hiking the¬†Pacific Crest Trail. ¬†There are some great quotes in there. ¬†Today I’d like to highlight one from an Emily Dickinson poem.

“If your Nerve, deny you
Go above your Nerve‚ÄĚ

Talk about nerves. ¬†My husband and I decided to hike the Rockies just after Memorial Weekend, May 31. ¬†We thought we’d see 3 or 4 pretty lakes, each about a half mile apart, and be done in about an hour or 2. ¬†Little did we know the park just opened the path after the holiday because of snowfall. ¬†Thankfully we had recently purchased our first pair of hiking boots, and they were waterproof. ¬†We must have changed our clothes every 20 minutes. ¬†From tank top to long sleeve to breathable jacket to rain jacket to light down jacket and sometimes back off again at intervals. ¬†It was actually pretty warm until the wind came. ¬†Until the rain came. ¬†Until the sleet and hailstorm that rangers never warned us about. ¬†Luckily we found shelter under a rock slab…sort of. ¬†But that was at the top. ¬†First we had to get there. ¬†And that involved climbing snow and ice-covered paths steadily inclining. ¬†We had no idea each lake required a hike in elevation. ¬†But we followed the others, hoping they knew what they were doing…where they were going–some of them slipping around in street shoes and wearing nothing more than a t-shirt and jeans. ¬†I secretly wanted to quit a few times all while having the time of my life. ¬†I love to hike, but my nerves get me every time, especially with looming heights, steep cliffs, and now icy paths. ¬†My mind is always thinking about what might go wrong. ¬†I used to hush that inner voice, try to turn it off, even curse at it. ¬†But that never worked. ¬†The best thing to do is let it talk. ¬†Acknowledge it like an old friend. ¬†Let it chatter on in the background. ¬†But meanwhile get to work. ¬†Get moving. ¬†Start climbing. ¬†And when it gets to that point where you think you want to stop and turn back, that’s when you must go above the nerve.

Good luck to you on all your journeys. ¬†Safe travels and take care. ¬†But don’t let a little thing like fear stop you. ¬†It’s only the background music for your adventure. ¬†And when you make it back, that same voice will say, “I knew you could.”



The Key to Success: A Journal of Steps

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I keep an affirmation journal. ¬†In it, I write down all the accomplishments I’ve made towards my creative goals as well as the positive feedback I’ve received. ¬†It’s useful to go back from time to time and read over the list to remind yourself how far you’ve come. ¬†It also helps combat the negative voice in your head. ¬†When you confront that negative voice with your list of accomplishments, it’s amazing how quickly the voice becomes silent.

But what I want to share with you today is how I learned about a way to take this concept one step further. ¬†Awhile back, a fellow blogger, Timothy Pike, started following my blog. ¬†One of his posts caught my attention. ¬†He titled it, “My life changed, literally overnight, when I started keeping a success journal.” ¬†You can read more about it here. ¬†I quickly learned that his success journal was far more detailed than mine. ¬†Partly because he committed to writing down at least one accomplishment for every day of the year.

While I was only writing what I considered worthy accomplishments: having a successful art show or receiving encouraging feedback from an agent or editor, this blogger suggests that you write down every action you take towards your goal. ¬†For instance, not just winning a contest, but entering one. ¬†Not just completing a novel, but coming up with an amazing new character. ¬†And certainly don’t limit your accomplishments only to moments where others have responded favorably to your work. ¬†You need to feel a sense of worth from within yourself, so you can trust yourself and continue moving forward.

The most amazing discovery, as noted by this blogger, is what happens when you start keeping this success journal.  It not only lifts you up, it also pushes you to take further action towards your goals.  You literally want to have things to write down in your success journal, so you keep taking steps.  Action is always the key to success.

So what are you waiting for? ¬†Take a step in the direction of your dreams. ¬†Then write it down! ¬†You’ll be surprised at how quickly you want to take another step.


Small Miracles

Howdy Partner!

Greetings all ūüôā ¬†I’m back from a recent trip to the Southwest. ¬†And boy was it action packed! ¬†Look for upcoming posts on just how much fun I had out there. ¬†But for now, I want to focus on something small.

Small miracles. ¬†What are they and why do they exist? ¬†I don’t have any scientific explanation, but I do believe that small miracles happen on the daily. ¬†They seem to occur while we’re waiting for the big miracles–the answers to our prayers, the dreams we hope to achieve, the success we want to have.

Big miracles are fine. ¬†You can build a life around them. ¬†But I believe it’s the small miracles that get us through the day, lift us up when we are down, and spark something inside us that is truly divine.

I experienced a number of small miracles on my trip. ¬†Here are just a few that I’d like to share.

  • We received an upgrade on our flight and were able to watch movies and enjoy extra snacks on the way out west. ¬†I sometimes get nervous on flights, so this was a great bonus!
  • In Scottsdale, my husband and I visited the shop of a local artist. ¬†We connected with the owners, exchanged business cards, and I even received a free calendar of artwork because they found out it was almost my birthday ūüôā
  • While looking for non-dairy ice cream, I found a shop serving my other favorite cold dessert–bubble tea smoothies!
  • When walking with a friend, a guy in a cowboy hat saw us posing for a photo and said– “You all need this for your picture!” ¬†Then he placed his cowboy hat on my head. ¬†That was great for a laugh and such a random feel-good moment ūüôā ¬†It can be fun to interact with strangers on a trip. ¬†See the photo above.
  • Hiking in the Rockies, we met someone from my hometown–Toledo, OH. ¬†We also met a father-daughter duo at our final destination who took our only great photo of the two of us at this spot. ¬†They even told us about a unique local place to hang out and get a drink in Boulder.
  • We were unable to make our final dinner reservation, but the next day we ended up there for lunch. ¬†No brunch, but they just happened to have a soft-shell crab sandwich–my favorite! ¬†Thank goodness for small miracles ūüôā

While you’re waiting for big miracles, what are the small miracles that make your day special? ¬†Please share!

Thought for the week: Pearl

A pearl needs some time and a lot of sand to rub up against to become its shiny self.

I’m Thankful for Grandmas

Happy Thanksgiving everyone ūüôā

While I was at the Toledo Main Library for my art show, I had a chance to stop in the children’s department.¬† If you haven’t been there, GO!¬† You’re in for a treat.¬† I especially like the fish tank celebrating The Rainbow Fish.¬† But¬†I also saw something new.

The installation in the above photo depicts a scene from the book¬†Abuela by¬†Arthur Dorros.¬† I’d never actually read this book, but I was so moved by the piece that I went home and requested the book from my library.¬† It’s about a girl who is¬†always going places with her Abuela.¬† (Abuela means grandmother in Spanish.)¬†¬†One day¬†the girl wonders what it would be like to fly.¬† Readers¬†are then taken on a flight of the imagination, following this girl and her grandmother on their adventures together soaring above the city.

After seeing this art installation and then reading this book, I could not help but think of my relationship with my own grandmother who passed away last fall.¬† She was one of my first teachers and taught me how to play the piano when I was young.¬† I would not trade anything for our time together sitting at the piano bench.¬† I learned many lessons beyond how to read and play the notes.¬† She taught me the importance of finishing what you started and never giving up, even if that means playing the same refrain over and over because you’ve forgotten the rest.¬† The show must go on!

I know the show must go on even now that she is gone, but I feel like a piece of her is still with me,¬†cheering me on, as I continue¬†on my life’s journey toward publication.¬† I still remember those Sunday dinners together.¬†¬†I will be thinking of her as I sit down with my family for Thanksgiving.¬† I hope you have a chance to be with those people who are near and dear to your heart.¬† Don’t forget to tell them you love them and give them a hug to show you mean it.

We’re heading into the season of wishes and miracles.¬† If I had one wish, it would be to go flying with my grandma, even if it’s only in my dreams…

“The Brand Hand Moment”

We’ve talked about receiving and we’ve talked about asking, now it’s time to talk about giving.¬† But what happens when you give and give and give…receiving nothing in return?¬† Some would say that’s the beauty in giving.¬† But what about when it comes to your career?¬† Should we be willing to work for free?¬† According to Jonathan Fields, author of Uncertainty, that answer is YES.

But it’s not that simple.¬† He has a great post on his website titled “The Myth of Working for Free.”¬† What he suggests is that¬†when you’re first starting a business or working as an artist, that¬†you should expect to put a lot of leg work in¬†to get your idea off the ground.¬† This means time spent networking, researching, investing, creating, the list goes on and on.¬†¬†And¬†even after you do all this, you might not see the¬†initial return in the form of actual dollars.¬† BUT there’s a silver lining.

Because all this time that you’ve been building, you’ve been creating a name for yourself.¬† You’ve¬†received valuable tools and met just the right people to support you along the way.¬† You’ve discovered your own voice and style.¬† You’ve been given the forum in which to share your talent with others.¬† And then one day…

You suddenly swap roles without even realizing it.¬†¬†Fields calls this “the brand hand moment.”

“It‚Äôs the point where the value of your brand and contribution becomes so self-evident or clearly expressed that it gives you enough power and leverage to start getting paid cold hard cash for the very thing you were paying cold hard cash to do the day before.”

I think it’s helpful to think of everything you contribute to your dream as an investment.¬† Sometimes you don’t see a return right away, but eventually you do, as long as you’re willing to stick with it.

Fields says even people who are¬†well-established can benefit from opportunities to ‚Äúwork for free.‚Ä̬† For example, you might agree to speak at a certain conference without accepting any monetary compensation because you know that key people will be there that can help you expand your business either by getting the word out, teaching you something, or marketing you in such a way that will make you more valuable in the long run.¬†¬†So what you do for free now, could create actual money in the future.¬† Hey, isn’t that one of the laws of the universe ūüėČ

Now, I’m not suggesting we all start working for free.¬† There’s something to be said for simply having a steady job and making money to pay the bills.¬† But if you find yourself starting up your own venture, take heart.¬† You may feel like you’re throwing spaghetti at a wall, but eventually something’s going to stick.¬† And when it does, you want to be there to claim that noodle!


Tis the season for giving, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about a new trend: crowdfunding.¬† My husband and I have become hooked on TED Talks and one of them we watched was given by musician and artist Amanda Palmer.¬† It was called, “The Art of Asking.”¬† She started out as a street performer and talked about the experience of asking for money without saying a word.¬† Are we obligated as observers to pay for viewing art?¬† No.¬† But maybe we should be.¬† Most of the time, art shows are free, working on a donation only basis.¬† So how do artists make a living?¬† One answer that more and more artists as well as entrepreneurs are turning to is crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet.”¬† Many successful startups began this way.¬† Over the summer, I attended¬†a fantasy conference in Detroit and crowdfunding was the topic of one of the presentations.¬† Here is what I learned.

Let’s start with some of the companies that host crowdfunding projects.¬† Kickstarter is probably one of the most well-known and will probably get you the widest audience.¬† They have an all or nothing approach where your project is either funded or not.¬† Gofundme is popular for charity projects.¬† Pubslush is specifically for literary projects.¬† With¬†Indiegogo, you get to keep the money you raise, but the organization takes a larger cut.¬† They’re all worth looking into!

What kinds of projects might you post?¬† Anything from selling¬†BBQ sauce to publishing a novel.¬† You also set the parameters¬†for¬†what you’re trying to raise.¬† One author said¬†she only asked for half the money she would need to publish her book.¬† You want to set realistic goals to improve your chances of getting funded.¬† You can even ask¬†¬†for help in funding additional items like marketing and cover design.¬† In fact, it’s important to think about all¬†aspects and possible expenses¬†before jumping in.

Some tips for a successful campaign:

  • Make sure your campaign stands out.¬†¬†One way is through making a video, but keep it short and to the point (2 minutes tops).¬† Projects with a video are more likely to get funded.
  • Make sure you can deliver a good product.
  • Have a completed project to insure success.
  • There’s a pay-it-forward option that allows you to give back to the community that¬†supported you.
  • Have a pre-campaign, as well as one during, and after.
  • Offer press releases to let people know.¬† Use social media, forums, etc.
  • Develop a street team of fans who can¬†create blasts on the internet to get the word out.
  • You want a big push from the start.¬† If you hit 50% right away, you’ll probably get funded.
  • Make sure your rewards for donations can be fulfilled.¬† Also make the rewards fun and enticing like offering free BBQ sauce or signed copies of books.¬† Virtual prizes are also common and free for you.

Here are some specific examples of rewards you can offer:

  • Authors can provide critiques
  • Have someone’s name included in your story
  • Personal video thank you
  • Read tarot
  • Offer to read your story to someone or record it
  • Have a digital book giveaway

Additional tips for writers trying to publish a book:

  • You can choose to self-publish the project using the funds OR use a publisher who manages the details for you.¬† (Cool, right?)
  • It helps to provide author interviews, and you probably won’t have to pay to get them.

*Remember that you can only give what you make.  There are also some rules about giving away food.

Getting back to Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk.¬† As a musician, she almost never stays in a hotel, relying on the hospitality of her fans.¬† But she also¬†makes them a part of¬†the rock star experience in a more intimate way.¬† She’s known for allowing her fans to write comments on her body with markers after¬†a show.¬† That’s what I call trust!¬† So it’s definitely a give and take process, born out of mutual respect.

There’s actually all types of crowdfunding, not limited to the above mentioned organizations.¬†¬†When a writer asks for feedback from fans on a published story and then incorporates their suggestions into the next story, I¬†would consider that¬†a form of crowdfunding.¬† There’s no monetary exchange, but I would argue that you are still asking for donations.¬† You want to make a better book and gain ideas from your fans.¬† In exchange, your fans are involved in the process.¬† Check out the book Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields for details on how this works.

I’ve also seen many artists include simple donation buttons on their websites and blogs.¬† They might ask for help in keeping them supplied with materials like brushes and paint.¬† The downside is that you might feel obligated to produce art in a certain way to please the fans that are supporting you.¬† I’ve toyed with the idea of including a donation button on my blog, but haven’t done so yet ūüėČ

Whatever you decide, to crowdfund or not to crowdfund, it is useful to know there are options out there.  Either way, it is certainly an exciting time to be an artist/entrepreneur.  As we delete the middle man and form more symbiotic relationships between creator and audience, there are no limits to what we can achieve!  And certainly, everyone benefits.



Practicing Confidence: My Summer Trip to Japan

Greetings everyone and sorry for the mostly quiet summer on this blog!  Obviously, I was out and about.  I hope you were, too!  One big summer stop for me was in Japan.  What can I say?  It was hot!  Think Florida times 10.  But I had a lot of fun sightseeing and visiting my in-laws.  I also had many opportunities to practice my word for the year: confidence.  Let me give you a list:

1.¬† I took my first solo flight, about 12 hours, to Japan.¬† I was quite nervous, as I’m prone to getting motion sickness.¬† But I’m happy to report that all went quite well.¬† I watched a lot of movies and even had a chance to lie down.¬† My advice¬†to anyone who suffers from anxiety or motion sickness on airplanes, bring a calming tea and play soothing songs on your ipod or smart phone.

2.¬† I took many hot spring baths while I was there.¬† Surprisingly, they cool you off in the summer the same way they warm you in the winter.¬†¬†This was not my first time to take the¬†hot spring bath, but it was my first time to take a public bath!¬† At one of the hotels we stayed in, that was the only option for taking a bath or shower.¬† As you¬†know,¬†this is not a common practice in the U.S.¬†¬†Swimming pools and hot tubs¬†are about as far as we go here.¬† I’m not going to lie, it was a little awkward!¬† Me¬†trying to cover myself with a small towel and avert my eyes wherever possible.¬† But I did it!¬† And luckily the Japanese are known for their modesty and politeness.¬† Would I do it again?¬† I¬†honestly don’t know…

3.¬† I’m getting more and more adventurous with the food there.¬† It was like one taste of sushi and off I went!¬† I think I’m at the point where I can eat anything from the sea.¬† I’ve also tried raw egg over a cooked dish.¬† My newest test was eating really fresh squid that was dead but still moving and changing color!¬† We were told to chew it very carefully because it might stick to our mouths ūüėȬ† But I can tell you this:¬† It tasted wonderful and I loved it.¬† Word to the wise:¬† don’t think about it, just try it.¬† Then decide.¬† So it turns out I’ll try anything… that is until my mother-in-law suggested raw horse meat…

4.¬† Two words:¬† Japanese baseball.¬† It looks like baseball.¬† But it sure doesn’t sound like it.¬† Ironically, Americans like their baseball quiet and the Japanese¬†like their baseball rowdy!¬† We were given plastic sticks to hit together and¬†long balloons to blow up, wave, and set free.¬† Talk about culture shock!¬† But by the end, I started to get the¬†phrases and motions down.¬† And to tell you the truth, it was quite fun!¬† Definitely more action packed from where we were sitting ūüėȬ† And the best part?¬† The Fukuoka Hawks¬†hit a home run¬†AND won the game.¬† It turns out baseball is baseball when it comes to winning.

Practicing confidence isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it if it means you get to try new things and have new experiences.¬† It helps when you have supportive friends and family cheering you on.¬† In my case, there also happened to be a couple bright spots waiting at the end of the journey.¬† My sweet husband was nice enough to give me his business class seat on the way home.¬† I also got to make an official artist seal (stamp)¬†for my sumi-e paintings.¬† See the photo below.¬† It reads from right to left using old Japanese/Chinese characters.¬†¬†It means “Quiet Storm.”

How will you practice confidence in your daily life?  Will you be quiet like American baseball?  Instead, try making a little noise!


Easter Owl

Easter Owl

watercolor and ink

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