The Therapy Booth

resting, doodling and holding love signs

My Miracle Morning (s)

Hello! In this post I will be telling you about my experiences with exercises from a book called The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guarantee to Transform Your Life (Before 8am) by Hal Elrod.

During an extremely challenging period of his life, Hal decided to learn the habits of the most successful people around. He created The Miracle Morning routine by combining the six most commonly used habits he came across. Turns out they are congruent with a lot of things that happen around The Therapy Booth, but I wasn’t doing them all in one sitting.

123 days ago, I started taking Hal’s advice. Here’s a look at Hal Elrod’s six “Life S.A.V.E.R.S.” and my first four months of using them:

December 31, 2017, I woke up in the morning sluggish and dragging, but I knew I had to get up and get going. I was about to clean a house where I’d been house sitting and move to a new location.

I went to YouTube looking for a certain book on audio to keep me company while I cleaned up and moved. The book I sought wasn’t available, but in a moment I can only describe as grace, The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod popped up in the YouTube suggestions. (* Note: I just checked, and the book is no longer available on YouTube, but my library has both the audio and hard copy available to borrow, and yours probably does too. *)

I’d been struggling in the mornings. Not wanting to wake up. Feeling simultaneously overwhelmed by life’s circumstances and, at the same time, rudderless. I saw the book title and thought it was worth a go. I knew I could use a helpful shift.

Hal’s conversation resonated with me. He laid out the following activities with compelling arguments for doing all of them, first thing, each day. I’ll share with you here how I do my “Life S.A.V.E.R.S.” as Hal Elrod calls them.

Before I introduce the S.A.V.E.R.S., a note:

Unlike many in The Miracle Morning on-line community on Facebook (about 150,000 members and highly recommended), I do not set my alarm for 5 a.m. and get up in the dark. I sleep until I wake up. It varies each day. If I do have something specific to be up for, I’ll set my alarm early so I can do my Miracle Morning routine. But as my schedule is my own, I have stayed with my natural rhythms. This is neither advocating for or against that, I just don’t want to misrepresent as an early bird, as that has not happened as of this writing.

Now, here are the steps that Hal lays out in The Miracle Morning that I have been following for 123 days, with great benefit:

S is for SCRIBE
In my Miracle Morning:
I have been a loyal writer of Morning Pages for many years, maybe ten.

Prior to beginning TMM, I was writing Morning Pages most days. For a year or so, I have also been including a “visioning page” in which I write the day as if it’s already happened, enthusiastically imagining how well things went. Then I make a simple doodle of how I’d like the day to go and write a short list of what I’m grateful for in the present moment. That routine takes me about 40 minutes. I’m sure the folks doing TMM aren’t all doing this level of journaling. You could use this time to write your plans for the day, hopes and fears, gratitude, whatever you like.

A is for AFFIRMATIONS
In my Miracle Morning:
I’ve been having a really sweet time with this one since I started doing them while looking in the mirror. I’ve been doing mirror work for a handful of years, and I know from experience that looking myself in the eyes in the mirror and saying kind and genuinely supportive things has a surprisingly infinite return value. It’s hard to explain, but I do recommend it. There are some subtleties to mirror work, and once you work out the kinks, it’s a gorgeous practice.

Nowadays I usually stop and talk with myself in the mirror right after I brush my teeth, kicking of TMM with love and sweetness. Examples: I love you, Carin; life loves me; you’re doing so great; I’m so proud of you; I know you’re feeling concerned about ________; and you’re doing so great, and I’m here with you; you’re doing great; I love you, Carin, so much. This morning I noticed I was feeling tense, and I relaxed and said, There’s always time to breathe. A good note on which to start the day. You can say affirmations however and about whatever you like. The key is just that you believe what you’re saying to yourself. Otherwise, it’s like you’re driving with the breaks on.

This section lasts me 2 – 3 minutes. Or more or less. It’s more just that I do it long enough to feel the benefit.

V is for VISUALIZATION
In my Miracle Morning:
This has been a surprisingly fun section for me. Like affirmations, genuine visualization is a muscle and there are subtleties to it. I’m having a great time daydreaming — something I’ve done since I was a little girl — and lining my body and mind up with what I’m dreaming of. I’ve learned to relax into super simple visions if I’m uptight and can’t get into a complex fantasy. I’ve learned to notice when I’m not really feeling it and shifting over to something that comes more naturally. The longer I visualize, the more wild and fun my fantasies become. I love to open myself up and relax and see what comes. In one of my favorite spontaneous moments, just before my little timer went off, I was dreaming that I was giving meditation sessions (resting sessions) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Patti Smith had come; and when my timer went off, Patti and I were just talking about getting together at a coffee shop to do a little writing. OMG drool. I’m into it. 🙂 I visualize for up to 10 minutes, averaging about seven minutes daily.

E is for EXERCISE
In my Miracle Morning: Oh Hallelujah. I needed this.
A lot of times in my Morning Pages, especially leading up to starting TMM, I’d write that I needed to/should/even wanted to exercise and meditate, but I wouldn’t do it. Thanks now to The Miracle Morning, I’m doing all three! I do any of a vast variety of things for exercise. Today I only did about five minutes, but I did 100 sit ups! Many days, I move along with power walking videos on YouTube, or I put on a Dead and Company show and dance for 10 – 15 minutes.

Lots of times I take a walk. I was sick recently, and on the first few days, I just did legs-up-the-wall yoga pose. It felt great and was good for my immune system and counts as exercise, yes indeed. I’ve learned over the years that consistency beats quantity in establishing and keeping to a habit. Being flexible but consistent on the exercise has been super beneficial. I’ve definitely lost a few pounds and feel more confident, in general.

R is for READING
In my Miracle Morning:
This is a section I can say definitely wouldn’t have been happening without TMM. This s the section in which we read — for a few minutes each morning — something inspiring or in the realm of personal development. It so happened that I’d checked out such a book from the library right before I started TMM

. I can tell you with certainty that I would not have read past the first chapter of that book had I not had time set aside for it each day. I read the whole thing (Ask for It by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever) and have even found it coming in handy already, as, for example, I just sold my car and negotiated for more than I was offered. That was a pretty good win, I’d say, considering I’m still new at this sort of stuff.

I’m currently reading Walking in This World by Julia Cameron, and I feel so grateful each day when I get to read a little and do some of the exercises. Also, reading has led me to listening to more audio books, and I’ve listened to several lately that have been making a difference for me. I’m a stickler for reading with my eyes, so even if I listen to an audiobook, I still do my R section of the S.A.V.E.R.S. on paper (or on occasion, Kindle). Many people listen to audiobooks while doing their exercise. I read for 5 – 20 minutes.

S is for SILENCE
In my Miracle Morning:
I couldn’t be more thankful for a daily assignment than this! Anywhere from a few minutes up to a half hour, or more if I’m doing inquiry, I get this gift every day. And I get to radiate it into the world. There are few things that I feel more confident in than resting the mind. I wrote about it for a year straight and continue to throw that hashtag around on the regular.

Even one or two quiet moments are doorways to infinity. If something’s really picking at me, I take my time and self-facilitate Living Inquiries; a better use of my time, I do not know. Maybe playing music, or maybe it’s a tie. Either way, the gift is in the pause. As with each of these S.A.V.E.R.S. — the gift is the pattern interrupt, indeed a new-pattern-created, that is fully supportive of our individual well-being so that we may show up in the world fully ourselves and bring our gifts.

I could talk lots more about this topic, so if you have questions or would like clarification, make a comment! Also, as above, I recommend The Miracle Morning Community Facebook group! It’s one of the most genuinely positive spaces I’ve seen on Facebook, and I get lots of inspiration there.

Let me know if you decide to give it a try! It’s like creating your own Therapy Booth around you to take with you throughout the day. Awe yeah.

 

No Comments »

5 Ways to Love Yourself Today

Taking a moment for a cup of herbal tea on the patio. Self Love FTW.

There are infinite ways to love yourself. Starting helps.

You may get stopped by any number of beliefs. Some of the most popular ones are that self-love is selfish and that you should only be looking out for others; and if you’re an enlightenment-seeker, you may be hung up on the thought that there is “no self” and so self-love doesn’t make sense, or it’s against what you think you’ve been seeking.

I call bullshit on both of those ideas. And I call it from direct experience.

If all you’re doing is giving outwardly, there is nothing left to give, eventually. Watch out for burn-out in the form of fatigue, resentment, or depression. And if you’re seeking enlightenment, and you want to experience, directly, what we call oneness, then I’m telling you: all-inclusive self-love is a doorway.

Here are five things you can try. Try all in one day. Try one a day for five days. Try one each day a week for five weeks. Do whatever is fun for you. Start small. Go easy. Take your time with it. Little bits of self-love have exponential results if you stick with it.

  1. Look in the mirror and talk about it. Take a breath. Look yourself in the eyes. And just start laying it on: I love you. I love you so much. You’re doing great. I know you’re doing your best, and I can see it. I love you so much, exactly as you are. I see your puffy eyes, and I love you! I know you’re nervous and don’t know what to do. And I love you so much! I’m with you! I love you. I love you. I love you. Stay there until you relax and really feel something open.
  2. Take a walk, 10 – 20 minutes. Go alone. Let your mind rest, and let it wander.
    * If you are unable to take a walk, don’t let the love stop there! Try 5 – 10 minutes of gentle stretching. Roll your shoulders and neck. Take some deep breaths. Stretch your legs out in front of you if you are able. Stretch your hands and wrists. Keep is simple, easy, and loving. Be loving with your body. *
  3. Let your mind & body rest. Set a timer for 10 – 15 minutes, maybe 20, and rest. Let your attention gently return, again and again, to the space under your nose where your breath passes in and out. Don’t force any thoughts away. Let them come to completion and return your attention to your breath. Notice where your body feels tense, and breathe space into there. Letting go, opening, letting go, opening, relaxing.
  4. Make something simple. Simple creativity can offer great love, presence, and relief. And you don’t have to be good at it! Draw a stick figure of yourself or someone you love. Play half of a song on a guitar. Having fun? Play the rest of the song. Cut your sandwich into fun shapes. Be easy about it; just express yourself.

    Here are some samples from a daily doodle exercise that I do. Following my Morning Pages, I write a visioning page for the day. I next make a simple doodle based on that vision, and then I make a short gratitude list. No matter what space I was in when I started writing, these simple pictures always make me aware of a sweet smile on my face when I finish.


    This one was actually at a restaurant where I went to see a band. I saw crayons and fun ensued.

  5. Go back to the mirror. Thank yourself for the self-loving gestures. Let yourself know how much you’re kicking ass & how great you’re doing.

And you are [doing great]. What a gift. Relax, breathe, look yourself in your own eyes. Self-love is the recognition of infinity.

These exercises may seem dorky, and your mind may tell you they are useless. But if your mind is also telling you mean things about yourself and your life, you might as well infuse it with some kind ideas as well.

And did I mention, IT’S ALL FREE!? It doesn’t cost any money to do any of these things. Even if you want to draw and don’t have a crayon, find a stick and drawn in the dirt. Just honor yourself, and show the precious being you are some love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Comments »

Experiencing Self-Compassion Directly

“I feel jealous!”

(Try just feeling jealous, then.)

“I feel angry.”

(What happens if you just feel angry?)

“I feel so sad!”

(Go ahead and feel so sad.)

“I am elated!”

(Experience elated directly. Feel it from within!)

“I don’t feel anything.”

(How does that feel? Take a moment to experience it as it is.)

“I feel in love and it scares me.”

(Feel it all. Tell it out loud, too.)

“But I feel so ashamed.”

(What does ashamed feel like? What if you turn right toward it instead of away?)

“Mmmmm, I feel compassion for myself.”

(Rest there, dear heart. Rest there.)

Image source: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/importance-of-self-compassion.html

Image source: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/importance-of-self-compassion.html

No Comments »

Love Sign Date

Hello dearest ones!

I am happy to share a bit with you about a magical day I had today.

I woke up this morning with the instinct to take the Love Sign to the mall. I don’t hang out much at the mall, but I knew I wanted to look for a nightgown (I’ve been feeling to treat myself to something lovely and loose and pink, like I wore as a little girl), and I knew that, with temperatures getting up around 102 F this afternoon, I wasn’t going to be holding the sign outside anywhere.

Well, don’t you know, it turned out to be a lovely time.

When I first got to the mall, I spent almost an hour audio Skype-ing with my good friend in England, supporting and encouraging one another. I loved having her “in the mall” with me, thank you Nordstrom wifi. It was a nice bridge, getting me comfortable sitting in my chair and having people smile and wave as they were going by, my hands free (ear buds in) to hold the sign and wave back.

Then, after our call, the interactions started pouring in.

First there was the pimply teenaged boy in a black t-shirt who looked back and earnestly said, “I love you.”

Then, shyly but surely crossing the path of people to come see me, was gentle Mary Beth. She was wearing an orange button down shirt with white stripes and said, “I’m usually not very brave,” but she wanted to come say hi to me. She was amazing and we hugged and connected. She said that she and her husband are going on vacation to France on Wednesday, and she’s really excited. I asked her to think of me when she sees a painting that takes her breath away. Sweet, sweet Mary Beth.

Then came a guy who warmly squeezed my hand and said that he and his people were waiting for me to get off of my call so they could come tell me that they loved me too. We took pictures with his friends.

Then came Angela:

angela

Angela waited patiently to talk with me and then said, “Is there anything you need that we can do for you?” What a wonderful question to be asked! In fact, I did need a pee break, and I asked her to stay with my sign while I ran off to do that. She works for Nordstrom HR and thought maybe I was putting on an event that she could help with. So very cool. Thanks for the pee break!

Then I saw a woman across the way (I was facing an open-sided coffee shop, near the entrance to Nordstrom) see me and jump up and down. I had to go toward her, and upon approach she told me that she’s just been in Austin one month and that she doesn’t really know anybody here. She said the gestures that she’s been seeing around town, like mine, “make a difference.” So great! Welcome!

What else is there to tell? I’ve been working through the beloved Artist’s Way course (for my fourth time), and I’ve been painfully aware at my lack of intentional Artist Dates. Well, no longer. I intended that I’d take one today, and the instincts I got this morning were good! I had a great time at the mall. And although I didn’t end up with a new nightgown (still on the lookout for that one!), I made a new friend named Grace (of course) in the lingerie department, and, on my way out, I found and bought this t-shirt.

don't quit your daydream

Your instincts are good too! Follow ’em.

I love you.

2 Comments »

Practical Use of Living Inquiries: What is the thing you’re battling (or going for)?

Image from http://www.mrwallpaper.com/woman-flower-petals-dress-wallpaper/

Image from http://www.mrwallpaper.com/woman-flower-petals-dress-wallpaper/

 

I walked what we might all call the spiritual path for many years, starting when I discovered meditation as a way possibly to help me slow down my racing mind and get some sleep. In the early years, I was reading stories of Indian saints and had a hope that I, too, would go to India and have a guru bop me on the head and all would be sparkly and happy and total drooling bliss.

Eventually — and I’m glad to say — that specific desire relaxed (just in time for me to go to India — whew), but as I continued my studies and followed what resonated for me, I continued to carry some ideas that were sticker.

I listened to recordings of teachers and read books and meditated and hoped that I might just reach “the final goal,” as Goenka of the Vipassana world called it.

I found much of what I heard and read to be comforting, relaxing even. I found support in beginning to see that life wasn’t necessarily the way the world I’d grown up in had agreed it was. But there was a new agreement forming, and I didn’t catch it right away.

Amidst the context of restfulness, emptiness, and burgeoning quiet, there was also division, shame, separation, elitism, judgment, fear, etc.

I was hung up on concepts that I didn’t realize I was hung up on: awakening, ego, enlightenment, trust, resistance, even love.

Enter Scott Kiloby’s Living Inquiries and their utter usefulness. As my friend Deena described them recently, the inquiries are practical. They are not another spiritual aphorism meant to point to something that cannot really be described. They are a simple and direct tool to find out if the bits and pieces that we’re holding to as our touchstones and anchors and heels-dug-in strongholds are actually existing in the way we imagine them to be.

As I’m writing this, I’m imagining folks leaving the page at this point, as looking into these strongholds might not be for everyone. I mean, who am I if I’m not someone trying to overcome my ego, for example? Who am I if there’s not really any such thing as this “mind” that I’ve been fighting to deny all this time?

If you’re still with me, I encourage you to have a look. And believe me, I’m writing from my direct experience. I wouldn’t care about it otherwise, I’m sure, and I certainly wouldn’t be trying to get anyone else to get into it. Though back in the day, I used to throw around words like, “That’s not who you REALLY are,” as if I knew what they meant, as if there was such a thing as who you really are as well as such a thing as who you’re not. I was hypnotized by language that I’d heard before, and I was using it as if I knew what it meant, when actually, I was dividing up my experience and drawing lines of separation between myself and others and even amongst aspects of myself.

I have received much comfort from the restful confidence of teachers and the context that’s created by certain points of view and certain communities. I go for what resonates for me, and I know that it’s not the same for everyone. I wouldn’t want it to be. One of the most fun parts about life is that what I’m uniquely interested in shows up. I wouldn’t want others to follow what resonated for me if it is not what really stirs their hearts. And I would suggest that my own looking with Living Inquiries, along with some other tools that I love and fun bits that beautifully compliment LI, has contributed deeply and practically, to this freedom of being me. But I wasn’t free as long as I thought that I still needed to fight my ego.

I am deeply thankful for the efficient and effective use of inquiry to find out: what am I clinging to as a point of view? What am I holding tightly to that’s actually causing me more pain and suffering, rather than contributing to my freedom?

Take a moment and look for yourself at what may have been unexamined up until this point. Listen to the phrases that you’re convinced are real and serve as anchors in your life.

Are you fighting the ego?

What if you applied a simple and straightforward style of inquiry to find out if the ego exists in the way you’ve been imagining?

Trust me, I’m not here to lay on another concept now called “there’s no ego.” I am inviting you to have a direct look. It goes something like this (and you can insert any concept, and, in fact anything that you can name, into this game):

Look at this word: e g o.

Really look at those letters and tell me, is that the ego you’ve been fighting?

If you get an automatic logical, “Well, of course those letters aren’t it,” look a bit closer. Feel into your body and find out if there’s something there giving you the indication that these letters might not be it, but it might still be there somewhere.

Take some time with that sense in your body. Rest with it and get to know it quietly and intimately.

Now look: is that sensation this things we call “ego”?

Rest and feel into it. Is that sensation somehow announcing itself as “ego”?

Maybe you get a no at this point. So rest a moment, and then we’ll look a little further.

Bring up all the images that come to mind when you think of ego. People you imagine are ego-ful. Yourself in moments when you feel you’re driven by your ego. Certain words that come up that seem to be coming from the ego. What about images of people who seem to have overcome it. Are those ego? Are those whatever you call the lack of ego?

Rest with each of these and take them, one by one, and find out if, inherently, any one of them is actually this demon we’ve been trying to fight and overcome and that we’ve been shaming ourselves that we can’t get beyond. What is it, literally, that we’re trying to get beyond?

You can insert the word “mind” instead of ego. You can insert “enlightenment” in the same way, and look and feel into all of your ideas of what enlightenment is, who has it, who doesn’t, what it means about you that you either do or don’t have it. What about the word “teacher” or “guru”? Have you looked into those?

For me, the context that’s created by teachers can be so incredibly helpful and supportive, but without taking a direct look into the strongholds — that often we don’t even realize are concepts/words/ideas/memories/information we’re parroting from someone else and someone else before him — we can remain stuck in this cycle of separation and division within ourselves.

I tried to fight the ego for a long time and felt shame that I couldn’t. Until I took a direct look and realized it wasn’t there as I’d thought it had been. And the house of cards came tumbling down.

* * * * *

If you’re interested in connecting with a community who is looking in this way, join us on Facebook, or contact me directly at thetherapybooth@gmail.com.

For more information about Scott Kiloby and the Living Inquiries, please visit www.kiloby.com and www.livinginquirires.com.

 

2 Comments »

No Pushing Necessary

beatles

As some wise fellas once sang, Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream . . .  the perfect line for this inspired post.

I have been chatting with a fellow traveler and artist friend about how we’re called — we’re just called — to do what we do, whether our minds or conventional wisdom agree or not. And one thing that keeps us inspired is seeing others on the same path, doing their thing. A few friends immediately come to mind when I think of those who inspire me. They model for me that the life we feel inspired to live into is more than possible. In fact, it is supportive and generous.

But we don’t have to push to get on it.

Some years ago I was hanging out with a friend while he packed up and either sold or gave away everything in his house, until all he had left was his backpack, laptop and guitar. I imagined him as sort of ahead of the curve from me, but on a similar journey. And then I would compare myself to him, imagining that I was supposed, eventually, to do the same. I was living in an apartment at the time, and I knew that I wanted to get down to trailer sized belongings, should an Airstream show up in my life. And I pared way down. Still, I had a comparison running in my mind, a nagging sense that maybe I was supposed to get rid of more stuff, be like my friend. But I wasn’t feeling inspired. Or, I could say, it simply wasn’t happening.

It was helpful to realize that 1) I’m not that guy, I’m me, and 2) there is no need to push. Life is happening as it is, and there’s no rush. I haven’t given or sold all of my belongings, though I’m down to a few boxes and a few files, stored with easy access at a friend’s house. Although I haven’t touch some of the items since storing them (bed linens, dishes), I often to go the stuff, looking for and finding the specific item I wanted. I’m not looking to be a traveling minstrel with my backpack and my laptop and my guitar. I’m just being me, with a car load of hula hoops and a Therapy Booth and one suitcase of clothes, a basket of art supplies and a few stuffed animals.

All good things in all good time, I heard another wise person sing.

Inspiration comes when it does. Movement is the same. There may come a moment when I take major steps in a direction of my dreams. There may also be long stretches where nothing gets accomplished beyond resting (which IS an accomplishment!), doodling here and there, going outside, coming back in. And still the path flows.

So when I think about the conversation with my friend about having these deep pulls within us, and the images and feelings and thoughts that go with them, I see so clearly that one of the thoughts that we need not listen to is the one that says, “I’m supposed to be more like that guy,” or the one that suggests I ought to push when it’s not flowing.

I told my friend today that I realized recently I have no idea how things work. I have so much good in my life, and so much is given with such vast generosity. Sometimes I directly ask. Other times it’s spontaneously offered. What I do know is that I can trust rest. I can trust taking a pause and waiting to see which way I’m moved. For surely, this body will stand up from this couch, once this blog post is complete or maybe before, and wander to the bathroom or out the back door to visit the neighbors or off to something else that I haven’t imagined yet. And isn’t leaving room for that last possiblity one of the most interesting things?

relax pool

3 Comments »

The Road of My Dreams aka How Dare You Make a Raffle?

road 2 doodle

Keep reading to find a sample from my next book!

Scroll down to Road of My Dreams aka How Dare You Make a Raffle? to find out how you can play along!

* * * * *

There are these special moments in life when we get to step into our dreams. When we get to look around and say, “Hey! I’ve been dreaming of this, and here it is!” The day I took that flight from Singapore, stopping over in Bangkok for some cashews and a quick internet check, to make my way to India. And again in India, the day I arrived in Varanasi. I’d been dreaming of going to India for about ten years. It was really clear to me that I didn’t want to take on anything else major until I got there. I didn’t know the how of it, but I just knew that was the thing. Then, more recently, the day I completed (including binding by hand) my new book, How Dare You Make a Book? I’d been wanting to make a book or a magazine for so long, I’d been carrying around brown paper bags (to use as the pages) for months. Such a joy. And now the moment has come to step into another many-yeared vision: the meandering road trip.

Some years ago when I was beginning to get really restless at my office social work job, I was feeling into this journey. I even started a blog, Meandering to a Ramble, with the focus on making my way to upstate New York to one of Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles. Then a few things happened: I lost my job and the income I’d been counting on saving for the trip, and that spring, Levon up and died. I noticed at the time of the job loss that, not only did I not have that income I’d been counting on to get my vehicle in shape and take the journey, I also didn’t feel as much of an urge to get moving, now that I wasn’t giving my time and energy over to the job. I was content to rest and keep quiet locally.

Moving through the next several years, another longtime dream, having a Therapy Booth at outdoor music shows, came alive in another one of those good fortune moments. Meanwhile, I’ve been paring down my material goods such that, at first I’d be down to trailer size (my love for the Airstream always alive), and now, I’m down to car size. It occurred to me that I don’t need the trailer to take to the road. The car will do it, and, after going through many major changes and moves: moving out of my apartment after eventually not being able to rent any more following the job loss, gratefully living with friends for a year, and now a year of house sitting (that has been awesome and even better than I could have imagined), I’m feeling more than anything the call to step into this dream. The road – and visions of The Therapy Booth by rivers and country stores – is showing up in doodles and drawings and songs and poems, is inviting me to step on it.

As a writer since birth, and a visual artist emerging in these past few years (much gratitude!), I’m excited about where I am in life. I have always been a creative person, though there have been times in my life where I’ve innocently bought into someone else’s idea of what I should be and what art and writing are all about (they said “competition” and the inspiration shrunk right up). Today I give credit to The Artist’s Way course, Scott Kiloby’s Living Inquiries and an ever-growing supportive community of creative thinkers and live-ers for helping this expression emerge.

binding book

One of the happiest days I’ve experienced lately is the day I finished my new book. In fact, the day I started it was just as wonderful. And as the title showed itself (How Dare You Make a Book) I felt into that which had seemed to hold me back. Who did I think I was to claim my title as an artist, as a creative person, as a writer of books? And you know what? It turns out it doesn’t matter who I think I am or who I think you are – we can all make books. In fact, the working title of my next book is Now You Make Something, and it goes hand in hand with my passion of encouraging creative expression everywhere.

I’ve been teaching creativity classes since shortly after the aforementioned job loss. This turned into one of those thank-you-for-firing-me moments. My first class was Disco and Doodles and I haven’t stopped (another dream was to host creativity classes on-line: check). I imagine being the Pied Piper of Doodling, roaming around encouraging a non-dominant hand doodle here, a poem there, an improvised song here, a sidewalk chalk love note there . . .

And here I am now, answering the call of the culmination of all that’s important to me: the road, expression, sharing and listening to the passions of the heart. As all of these rolled into one, I was inspired to create a raffle, both to share my new publications with you and to encourage and support this dream of mine.

road 1 doodle

And sometimes you just know certain things: I somehow knew when Paul McCartney was coming to town that I was going to see him play. And as the date of the sold-out shows approached, I still had the feeling that I was going to see him and that I was going to be given a ticket. I even had a friend offer to treat me if I could find one to buy, and I was thankful for her generosity, but I told her to wait. I had the feeling I was going to be given a ticket. And that’s what happened. And now, I have this inspiration around my trip to fund it — at least to get it started, including getting the car to pass a road-worthy physical — by sharing my books and creative tools with you by means of a raffle.

There is only one week left to go on it – Drawing is May 5 (note new date)! – and here’s how it works:

Road of My Dreams aka How Dare You Make a Raffle?

Prizes are varied and awesome:

– 5 limited edition copies of my new book, How Dare You Make a Book
– the ORIGINAL copy of my new book, now with two working titles: Now You Make Something or Narcissist’s Handbook
– a Doodle Booth gathering (a two-hour, no holds barred creative expression class) for you and three friends (on-line or in-person)
– a massage from Quiet Austin’s own Signe Wendt (thank you Signe!) for Austin winners (if you win this and you’re from out of town, we’ll swap out your prize)

Still with me and excited to play?

You can drop $10 per ticket (no limit to number of tickets you can purchase, one prize per winner) into my PayPal using the button below or through the PayPal site (send to carin_channing@yahoo.com. Please use friends and family option to avoid fees) or hand me cash or send a check or use a carrier pigeon or a hot air balloon or hide it in a breakfast taco.

 





THANK YOU! I hope you win something awesome!

Big love and THANKS to the friends who have played so far. I’m happy to be sharing my heart’s work and love with you all. Thank you for supporting this becoming!

Meanwhile, if you’re out there in the world and would like to have a visit with me (The Therapy Booth is always with me!), or if you’re going to be traveling and can use a house sitter (sorry, no cats these days), please let me know! I’m thrilled and curious and happy and can’t wait to make more stuff and see wide open spaces and get off-line and in-person and find out what has been calling me all this time. Deep thanks and hopes that you, too, are moving in the direction of your dreams. Doodling them is a great place to start.

Love,

Carin

* * * * *

I am listening to the yeses
Leaving behind my second guesses
All you friends, send your addresses —
I’ll meet you on the road.

* * * * *

The Day that Yes Was the Only Answer

When I’m 83 years old and very white haired,
getting out of my car to cross a parking lot,
to walk through a building to play my banjo
on the back porch,
will I remember today and how
the runny-nosed dog walk was long enough to
save me from the edge of depression
and how I felt ashamed in that moment for asking for what I want
and for what is more than what I want but that is
what I am
and then also found the gumption to
keep with it and follow the sparkling rocks
and purple flowers and those
marigold-colored daisies?
I clarified my position for myself while I was out there.
About the time I hit the marina and paused before turning around,
I realized that my mood had shifted and
out of sadness and defense and dejected
verging-depression,
I was now thinking of doodling.
When I’m 83 will I remember how I thought about that
and was eager to get home and
announce it on-line?
What will on-line be
when I’m 83?
And will I recall how I kept on walking,
relieved, and thankful for the doggie,
and smelled the pines and flirted coyly with the sun-loved lake,
and came up around the bend with yet another idea?
No, tonight instead of doodling, I’ll do that other thing,
that thing that will loosen my fears and maybe work magic
and keep moving me ever in that yes direction.
Will I remember even having that thought,
smelling those pines,
and thinking how I should sit on the balcony tonight
and watch the lake?
At 83 will I remember today as the day it turned around,
and the day I gave an unyielding yes to myself
and to life’s inner kisses and outer kisses and support and
celebration?
Or will I simply remember sitting here –
like now –
and hearing three different bird sounds and
cars on the road
and the rattle of the open window,
knocking into its frame while the sun
starts to go down and kisses me now,
and also those trees,
just like it does the lake?

* * * * *

Look for this and other new poems in my forthcoming book, titled some combination of Now You Make Something and Narcissist’s Handbook.

today might be the day

 

No Comments »

In-Between

You’re such a free spirit!

I really admire what you do!

You’re so inspiring! I could never do what you’re doing . . .

I heard these words a lot these days and I smile and sometimes shake my head. It’s interesting to see myself through the eyes of others. When I’m over here seeing the free-fall and the month-long hunt for a place to land where I can get a little rest, make a few Skype calls, do a few doodles, write a few lines . . .

I had the amazing fortune to spend five weeks on Maui this winter. I had the sense, when I first arrived there, that something major was happening. Seeds were getting planted. Old pathways were getting interrupted. New paths were yet to appear. Uprooted from Austin by Love and Mystery, I found myself in a profound paradise.

Just before leaving for Hawaii (by way of New York City — lucky me some more!) I was inspired to pick up The Artist’s Way again. This 12 week, self-guided course in creativity has been a go-to for me over the past several years when I was ready to unleash more creativity or when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to play in, but I knew that what I had been playing in wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. I love Julia Cameron’s methods of helping us slough off what’s no longer current and bring to light what feels fresh and accurate in the moment. She acknowledges, at about the point I am in the course, that the old may not be working anymore, but the new isn’t clear yet.

It’s this in-between that I want to honor in this writing. This unknown, empty, neither here nor there-ness. We often hear stories of folks who have come through one trial or another and they’re reporting, looking back on what they’ve been through and survived. But we don’t often hear about what it’s like right here.

Somewhere In Between by Richard Barrett

Somewhere In Between by Richard Barrett

We live in a culture of claims. I’m Carin. I’m a social worker. I’m a Living Inquiries facilitator. I’m a daughter/sister/friend. I’m a nomad. I’m a writer. I’m an artist. I’m a musician. I’m a Cancer. I’m a woman. I’m in transition.

And I can tell, I’m wanting to claim this transition, this in-between, this exploring. I feel impassioned to nurture the neither here nor there, to bump up (always) my self care, to look into what I need and want right now, when I’m not this but not that.

One of the new and unexpected things in my life is a severe cat allergy. I’ve never had this before, but since I’ve been back on the mainland, I’ve had to leave three different house sits (I’ve been house sitting — including with lots of cats — for the better part of the last year) due to respiratory stress. Bummer! So I’ve been looking for a place I can land and root and rest for a while — and breathe fresh air and give my lungs a chance to recover and let my mind and imagination spread out, where I can keep working my Artist’s Way exploration, make my doodles, write a few verses. I’ve had an idea since before Maui (though I began collecting the tools while there) to make a magazine of my writing and pictures, and I’ve been aching for a space to rest and call my own and spread out my materials and see that magazine come to life.

And I may have found such a space — at least for the next month — a place to patch my bones before I get back truckin’ on again. I’ll find out later today. And even when that truckin’ comes back around, I’m feeling to wander, to explore, to follow my nose. To take a several month version of an enchanted walk (okay, my car’s tires will do most of the walking, but I’m game to use my legs too!) and find out: what is waiting for me?

I have this sense that my people are somewhere but maybe we haven’t met yet.  My creative companions are just waiting for me to come through town with The Therapy Booth so they can sit by me and we can relax together. In a doodle the other day, I got this message:

Rest in your booth by the road,
by the river.
By the hills and in the trees
and
they will love you.

And thoughts come:

Can I really do this? Don’t I need to have a job? Can I really take that step, that leap, into even more unknown but into the true honoring of my heart?

And, meanwhile, can I snuggle up to the unknown, to the in-between, and give it all of my love and affection?

I write this to bring a voice to what I know a lot of people go through but doesn’t seem to be talked about all that much, and to say, I’m with you! And because I can’t write from a future where I know everything or from a past when I once knew. I can write — and draw and make up songs and color on the sidewalk — from right here, somewhere between meandering and nesting. Immediately in-between.

2 Comments »

What Feels Good to You Right Now?

pause

What feels good right now?

I had lots of thoughts of what I could do — busy work type stuff that I haven’t had a chance to get to. Marketing some classes, promoting some others. Moving to another location sometime today. Strategizing. Seems like there are things to think about, manipulate, have a hand in, such that life will occur as safe and supportive.

Sometimes the push toward this comes from a sense of fear. And sometimes that sense is super subtle, perhaps because it’s so familiar it isn’t noticed. Like when the fan’s been running and it suddenly shuts off, there’s an awareness of the absence of that sound, when the sound hadn’t been in my consciousness before.

Hindsightedly, the sneaky sense of I-have-to-manage-this becomes apparent. Nice also to catch it in action, when that happens, and pause then, too. Check in: what feels good?

A moment ago, I paused and asked myself, “What sounds fun? What are you inspired by? And how would you like to share it?”

I saw quickly that I want to share an on-line doodle class (cuz my doodle classes are always of massive benefit to me, as well as to the other participants, so it’s a super win all-around), and I saw something about how I was feeling to charge for it.

I was somewhat scrambling to get a new course up because I was thinking that I need to get some money in — and soon. I had that sense that I had to manage this, but I wasn’t really aware of that. I felt some strain, and I was trying to relieve it by spinning my wheels and something wasn’t feeling quite right. When I paused to feel into what I would get into now, I saw that I’m much more interested in sharing from the heart because this stuff lights me up and because I know it’s a benefit to those who participate. And I didn’t feel to be hung up on making sure a certain amount of money comes in. Right this minute, that even feels irrelevant.

I’ve been more and more inspired to move away from a tit-for-tat mentality. It just doesn’t make sense to me anymore. There’s something about keeping score and making even trades that has seemed inefficient and contrived. TheFreeDictionary.com defines contrived as not spontaneous or natural, and that makes a lot of sense to me. Don’t get me wrong: I am not eschewing the giving or receiving of money or other objects and opportunities in trade. I love to receive money, and I love to give it. I am also happy to be able to receive some services that I might not have the cash to pay for because I do have other valuable skills that are worthy of a trade. But if we’re always trying to match up dollar for dollar, hour for hour, where is the freedom in that? Where are we inspired in heart to give?

If you’d like to learn about someone who is very conscientiously and intentionally living this way, check out my friend Michael Skye’s Indegogo Campaign,
VISIONARY HEART: Bringing Down My Walls, Standing For My People.

What drives my doodle class inspiration is my desire to share what I know and love. I’ll get into the joys of doodling in its own post, but, for now, I’ll say that I know that turning toward my passions is what feels right. Not scrambling to figure out how I’ll get paid next. Seeing how my body relaxed with that shift gave me even more pause. So much so that I came here to write about it a bit.

Nice also to see that I do come to write on this blog, eventually. I have the occasional thought that I should be writing or posting something here more often. Add that to my list of things-I-believe-I-have-to-manage. It’s welcome to hang out there, but, ultimately, the writing — and the pausing — come when they do.

If you take a pause right now, what feels good to you?

P.S. Here’s the link to the Doodle Gathering Invite!

resting

1 Comment »

Free Exactly Like This!

The grass ain’t greener
The wine ain’t sweeter
Either side of the hill
– Robert Hunter

I cannot possibly be any other way than how I am. Thank goodness! More and more I notice when the subtle movement of comparison is arising. I should be more like her. I want to be more like him. Something in me is recognizing the impossibility of that — and again: thank goodness! Even in little ways, there is nothing to change! In fact, best to rest.

As the juice I’m drinking couldn’t be any other color of orange mixed with red mixed with green, and the air being moved by the fan and touching my shoulders couldn’t be moving in any other way.

In Living Inquiries we begin to recognize the comings and goings, and in that, we also see their spontaneous innocence. Empty of meaning, sensations arise and pass away. Empty of inherent meaning, thoughts — like internal sounds — come and go, leaving no trace once they’ve passed. And even the idea that there is an “internal” where the sound is happening is questioned and such barriers relax.

Who would have thought that I could be free to be really scared or disgruntled or even happy? Who would have thought that all emotions, all habits, all thoughts even are so okay that they’re beyond okay?!!?

Even to make an error cannot possibly an error! If we really look, where is the error? Is it in the sound “eh-ror”? Is it in the letters E-R-R-OR? Is the feeling in our gut the error? Is the visual image announcing itself as wrong? What about the thought that says, “But it IS wrong?” If you take those letters and look at them, one at a time, which one is the error?

So even if a thought of envy comes and a feeling comes with it, those can come and go — especially when met directly, like we acknowledge our neighbors as we see them coming and going from the house. I can see a thought I want to be like her and find no meaning in it. If it seems to have meaning, there’s simply a feeling and perhaps an image arising with it. But none of that is me! Or you might even say, the whole entire thing is me. Every single thing I can sense. The shapes and the colors and the sounds and the spaces and all of the sensations and the total emptiness of it all when you drop the words and see what it’s like. Right now.

I have found it impossible to live into being like anyone else — thank goodness — and it makes me so happy.

Free-to-be-girl

* * * * * *

For more on the Living Inquiries, visit http://www.thetherapybooth.com/living-inquiries/.

No Comments »