Saturday, January 31, 2015

How have you navigated directionless times in your life?

When we are pursuing our big visions there will be times when our path becomes obscured.

In Cheryl Strayed's, Wild, which I just finished reading, most of the time she knows where she is on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and where she wants to be at the end of her 1,100 mile hike. But sometimes, like when she hikes through snow, she doesn't know if she is on the PCT, or if she is lost. She has to consult her guidebook, look for signs, ask for help from strangers, and trust her instincts to find her way.

When I graduated from college, I really didn't know what I wanted to do next. I had a degree in sociology that I loved studying, but didn't point me in a particular direction. My only guidepost came from a friend's boyfriend who had graduated the year before who said, "If you don't know the kind of work you want to do, or where you want to live, or who you want to be, go where you know people because it's important to have friends around when you're figuring all of that out."

I took his advice to heart. Most of my friends had moved to either New York City or the Bay Area. I needed to decide between the two, but again I was at a loss. This time, it was my who Dad gave me some good advice. He said, "What color do you see when you think of each place?" I closed my eyes and thought about New York. All I could see was black and white.

Then I thought about San Francisco. I saw pinks and yellows and lots of color. I decide to move to San Francisco and have lived in the Bay Area for almost 25 years!

I think when we're in unknown, directionless, lost, or "blank slate" periods of our lives it's important to: 1. surround ourselves with people who care about us, and 2. listen to the less linear parts of ourselves that know things through feelings, images and intuitions.

How have you navigated directionless times in your life?

Image credits: Snow in Yosemite by me. New York City by Paul Stocker (CC by 2.0). San Francisco, City of Color by Matt (CC by 2.0).

* I will be moving Have Fun, Do Good over to my website,  If you would like to receive my posts via email or RSS, the prompts to subscribe are at the bottom of

Monday, January 26, 2015

Life is a long experiment that includes successes and failures

At the beginning of this year, 47% of Americans made a New Year’s resolution. Only 8% of us will keep it. But maybe that isn’t a bad thing as long as we:
  1. Take the time to reflect on why we didn’t keep it.
  2. Look at it as one “experiment” in a long process.
Last weekend, I saw two movies, Birdman and Particle Fever, that portrayed very different attitudes towards success and failure. Without giving too much away about each movie, in Birdman, the former star of a comic book hero movie franchise tries desperately to regain his former success by writing, directing and starring in his adaptation of a Raymond Carver play.

He tells his daughter, “I’m trying to do something important,” to which she responds, “You’re doing this because you’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter.” Throughout the film, it feels like he is running from his failures in the past, and possible failures in the future.

Particle Fever is a documentary about the  launch of the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs Boson (aka the “god particle”), which some of the scientists interviewed have been working on for 20+ years!  I was struck by how different the attitude, as expressed by one of the physicists in the film, Savas Dimopoulos, was to failure:
“Jumping from failure to failure with undiminished enthusiasm is the big secret to success.”
Failure seemed to be an accepted part of the process, and a looooooooong process at that. As another physicist, Monica Dunford, says in a voice-over during footage of her going for a run:
“When you’re dealing with something that’s a long term project . . . you can’t think about the end. Ever. If you start off a marathon thinking ‘I can’t wait to get to the finish line. I’m going to have my data,’ or ‘I’m going to have my crispy french fries at the finish line’ or whatever motives you. If you start thinking that at mile one and it’s like ten minutes into the race and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Wow, I’m only at mile one, I’ve got 22.5 miles to go.’ If you’re thinking like that at the start, then you’re done. Mentally you are done. This is what doing discovery physics means. This is what discovery means.”

I’ve thought about both films a lot recently and wondered: As I make future plans in reaction to past failures, am I being more like the actor in Birdman, or like the scientists in Particle Fever?

I have to admit that I have been being more like the actor in Birdman, running from failures and taking desperate actions in the hopes that future success would bury the memory of my failures, rather than embracing life as a long experiment that includes successes and failures.

So, I’m hoping to spend some time at the end of this month reflecting on some of my most recent failures with a “scientific method” type of lense:

  • Question: What question about my life was I trying to answer?
  • Hypothesis: What did I think the solution would be?
  • Experiment: What actions did I take to try to make happen what I wanted to happen?
  • Data: What are the facts about what happened?
  • Observations: What other things did I notice and feel about what happened?
  • Conclusion: Did I achieve my hoped for solution? Why or why not? If I didn’t, what did I learn and what will I do differently next time?

As we wind down the first month of 2015:

  • What hasn’t turned out the way you expected?
  • What will be your next experiment?

* I will be moving Have Fun, Do Good over to my website,  If you would like to receive my posts via email or RSS, the prompts to subscribe are at the bottom of

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Creativity is not just for artists

"Creativity is not just for artists. It's for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it's for engineers trying to solve a problem; it's for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way." ~Twyla Tharp, author of The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

Twenty plus years ago, I went through a graduate program to earn an M.A. in Creation Spirituality. The premise of much of the curriculum was that if you believe in some kind of greater creative force, then you will be your truest self and closest to that source when you are being creative.

One of the daily practices we were encouraged to foster during the program was art-as-meditation, to do something creative each day (e.g. make music, sing, dance, write, paint, draw, take photos, mold clay) without focusing on the product, only the process. I was pretty regular with my art-as-meditation practice while I was in school and for a little while afterwards, and then it fell away.

Lately, I've found myself focusing Focusing FOCUSING on getting from A to Z in certain areas of my life and feeling extremely frustrated when either 1. things go from A to J to F, or 2. it seems like nothing is happening. As I've continued with pushing my metaphorical boulder up a hill, the idea of an art-as-meditation practice keeps popping up.

I even recommended it to someone else. Classic. It's so much easier to give other people the advice you need to take yourself! Clearly, I need to spend a little time each day being comfortable with the uncertainty, lack of linear thinking and chaos that being creative can bring.

If you're interested in trying an art-as-meditation practice, it's fairly simple to do:

  • Set aside time each day (5-20 minutes).
  • During that time, create in whatever way moves you without focusing on the product, just the process.
  • Don't judge what you create.
  • Social media didn't exist 20 years ago, so I would add, refrain from sharing what you create on social media so that you don't set yourself up to be judged by someone else either.

The process is easy. The challenge is committing to make space each day for the unknown.

"All the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life. "~ M.C. Richards, author of Centering in Pottery, Poetry, and the Person


P.S. I'll be offering The Juicy Blogging E-Course January 20-February 17, 2015.

Photos by me.

* I will be moving Have Fun, Do Good over to my website,  If you would like to receive my posts via email or RSS, the prompts to subscribe are at the bottom of

Friday, January 02, 2015

Juicy Blogging E-Course: The Art and Play of Blogging

The Juicy Blogging E-Course is back!

Do you want to re-energize your blog and blogging practice, or rediscover the ♥ of your blog?

I’ll be offering this ever popular e-course January 20-February 17, 2015. During the course, you’ll play with fun assignments on a private blog with your fellow juicy bloggers.

“The best part of it all is that it is just so much fun!” ~ Juicy Blogging E-Course student

The course consists of three kinds of fun-work:
Reflection questions to refine your blog’s purpose
Connection assignments to build community and traffic
Creative and juicy blog post prompts to get you writing

While working at your own pace, this course will help you:
• Discover what you love to write about
• Create a big ‘ole list of juicy blog post topics
• Learn tricks and tips for building community and traffic
• Design a blogging schedule that works for you
• Connect with other juicy bloggers

How it works
  • Each week, you’ll receive an email with a link to the week’s lessons on a private blog.
  • You can work privately on your own, or interact with your fellow students in the comments of each lesson’s posts by asking questions, sharing reflections, and posting links to your blog posts for feedback.
  • I individually answer all of the questions you post in the comments of each week’s lessons.
  • Your Juicy Blogging lessons and homework assignments will be posted on Tuesdays (January 20 & 27, February 3, 10 & 17).

Juicy Bonus
At the end of the course, you’ll receive a coupon for 25% off a one-hour blog coaching session tailored just for you.

Add to Cart


Do I need a blog to take this course?
Yes and no. You will get more out of the class if you have a blog, but if you’re taking the class to figure out if you want to blog, I recommend setting up a free Blogger or blog to play with. You can make your Blogger blog private and your blog private, if you want to experiment without anyone seeing it.

Will I learn how to set up/design a blog?
Nope, but if you’re just starting out, by the end of the course, you’ll have a much better sense of the type of blog you want to create when you do set up, or redesign your blog.

I have some things going on during part of the time the course is happening. How long will I have access to the material?
I’ll keep the class blog up for a month or so after the course is over: Till the first day of spring (March 20)!

Please feel free to email me with questions about the course!

* I will be moving Have Fun, Do Good over to my website,  If you would like to receive my posts via email or RSS, the prompts to subscribe are at the bottom of