A field guide to living an intentional, creative and fun life — with children.

Category Archives: Awake in Creativity

Original Photo Cred: dr_tr via Flickr

Earlier this week, the oh-so-familiar book club order came home in the folders. You know the one? It has piles upon piles of books just screaming out “Buy Me! Buy Me!”

Our Pinkalicious girls love books, like most children do in kindergarten, and yet despite being very imaginative, being very smart and reading on their own …


So, I banned ordering or buying pink books. Last month, I made them buy their own pink books.

I guess I get tired of seeing pink. Plus, the writing is rarely good in the pink books.

Like always, I asked them to circle the books they like — just not pink books.

What do you think they chose?

Pink. Books.

I gave that evil mom look that kids just love. And I started to spout off my usual rant when …

Liana said, “But did you see the pink book I didn’t circle?”

Screeech …. Awake Moment.

Her comment stopped me in my tracks.

She was right. I hadn’t noticed that there were many other pink books that she didn’t circle.

Right there, standing in the middle of the messy kitchen, rose up some serious mommy guilt about how I only focus on the negative, can’t ever say anything nice, etc. etc. etc.

This week, I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about the idea of being a good mom. As you know here and here.

A good enough mom.

A mom that is good.

Like you, I question myself.

Of course, as I write this post, there is the breaking news about Time Magazine’s cover asking “Are you mom enough?”

{If you are a mom, you are plenty mom enough.}

Photo Credit: Jesse.Millan via flickr

The qualities needed to raise a mother are so vast it’s hard to write the recipe. Even harder to write one for an Awake mother.

Perhaps that is why we doubt ourselves so much?

I’ve often asked, “Where’s the textbook for this?” Or, “Why is this so much easier for those other parents?”

In my early days of parenting, I longed for guidelines, rules, play-by-plays to make sure I was doing it all right. I still often want exact phrases to use as a response in quirky situations so that I don’t say the wrong thing. Again.

An eraser, some days, would be really nice. Or white out. A really big bottle of white out. I’d wear it for lipstick.

Alas, no such thing exists in the realm of parenting.

How do you raise a mother?

I am growing closer to understanding as I travel this Awesomely Awake journey.

You just need to be yourself.

Because neither you nor I nor any mother in the world is the same.

And our children are equally as beautiful and different.

To parent like the Smiths down the street or the mom on Time’s cover would be a shame — for you and for your children.

Authenic parenting — authentic and creative mothering — means putting your unique spin on raising a child, raising a family and raising a mother.

Make up the rules yourself by trusting your heart to know what is best. Write your manifesto and set the dreams on fire.

So, in a nutshell, mothering is an art.

A little color here. A splash there. Trial. Error. Constant practice.

Crumpled up first drafts. Ah-ha moments. Heart-pounding success.

And satisfaction in your soul.

All with the single outcome — beauty.

So, how can you be a good mom? How can you be an Awake mom?

Show up every single day. Give it your best shot. Notice what you say and do but without self-doubt. And look at your job as an artist looks at a piece of art — with admiration and the desire to constantly improve.

And with immense understanding that mistakes will happen. They most certainly will.

But, like a true artist, you know that at any point you can always start over — with a smile and I’m sorry and I love you.

And you can have one pink book.

Happy Mother’s Day every day!

Original Photo Cred: Abilis via Flickr

Last year, our part of the country had no spring. Literally, we went from winter to summer with nothing but rain in between.

This year, we couldn’t be more grateful for the amazing weather we’ve been having.

To honor this season, I want to make sure that our family enjoys it to the fullest by writing a bucket list, of sorts. Call it whatever you want but it’s a list of things you want to do.

Here’s how to Write your Spring Bucket List.

  • Grab a blanket and throw it on the grass outside.
  • Grab a notebook and pens, crayons and markers.
  • Brainstorm. Doodle. Create a list.
  • Get up. Fold the blanket.
  • Start doing the list.

If you don’t get to everything on your list — and you probably will not — add it to next year’s spring list. Or, better yet, move that item to your summer bucket list.

Here are 10 Ideas for Your Spring Bucket List {to get you started!}.

Plant a Secret Garden: Find a container and fill it with beautiful flowers. Watch them grow. Be amazed. Read the book while you’re at it!

Take a Spring Walk: Look for robins, spring flowers, worms, ants, floating clouds, tree buds. Listen for bees buzzing, flies, birds chirping, and people laughing outside. Smell the fragrances of freshly cut grass, newly bloomed flowers, barbecued dinners wafting through the air.

Go on a Family Hike: Invite another family to go along. Pack a picnic lunch and your best hiking shoes. Enjoy the peace. Enjoy the climb. Enjoy the cool water on your lips at the end.

Create a Backyard Field Guide: Make your own book about the animals, birds and insects that live in or around your house. This could include anything. Even if you live in an urban environment, there are birds, mice and squirrels just waiting to be spotted. Our guide will include a male and female duck couple, a groundhog, a bunny, cardinals and other birds.  And, we even had what looked like a family of stray cats and kittens earlier this spring!

Fly a Kite: If there is wind, let there be a kite flying. It is always great entertainment and, the way we do it, good exercise, too.

Plan a Picnic: You can’t have spring without a nice, sunny picnic. Pack anything your hearts desire. All bets are off with picnic food. Lately, fruit, veggies, cheese and croissants are our faves but we’ve been known to do sandwiches, salads and even picked up fast food to take to the park where we run it all off together. Whatever is easiest works best.

Play Spy Games: Send everyone on a mission as spies. Learn to whisper and tip-toe your way through the grass to spy on one of those great creatures in your backyard. Wear sunglasses. Put on a disguise if you must. What else can you spy on outside?

Walk Barefoot: Walk slowly, mindfully and fully aware through the cool grass. What does the grass feel like between your toes? Encourage the whole family to do it. Wash the grass stains off later …

Hug a Tree: Not to go all tree hugger here, but choose a tree near your home and make it your Family Tree. Decorate it with lovely bird treats. Take a photo of it blooming. Give it a name and extra mulch. Then, follow your Family Tree through the seasons, photographing it along the way, but always treating it with the most love and kindness you can muster.

Enjoy a Spring Dinner: Before spring rushes out the door in a big, fat hurry, throw her a wonderful good-bye dinner. The evening of June 19th, bring out all the best dishes and pick all the best flowers and have a family dinner — yes, on a Tuesday night. Eat only the best seasonal foods you can find. Light a candle for spring goodness. Share your favorite spring memories and be sure to add them all to your memory jars!

Now, tell me what you’re putting on your Spring to-do list. Summer arrives on Wednesday, June 20. Share your thoughts in the comments.

'075/365' photo (c) 2009, Gibson Regester - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

So just how do we live more? It’s perhaps a little easier said than done, right? Especially — well, particularly — for those of us with children. Perhaps even harder for those of us with no family to help out for even a day, let alone a night or a weekend? How do we live more?

I will admit, I struggle with this intention. And that’s why I wrote it.

But, now more than six years into this parenting gig, I do get it. Perhaps I always did.

For me, living is the little things. And when I look back at old videos, old pictures, old blog posts from a couple blogs ago, I realize … we have been extremely blessed to live a really awesome life — one that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

How do we live more with children?

I started thinking about this concept when I read Life is a Verb, as I wrote about in Monday’s Amaze Yourself & Live Life post, but that mindset really sunk in when our family created a memory jar.

For us, the memory jar is an old rice container that has been repurposed with a little sign that says Fink Memory Jar. We started it last September or so — long enough to know what we are doing. This idea popped up on Pinterest last year and I think it came from Parent Hacks but I’m not sure of the origination of anything anymore.

Currently, I am usually the only person writing memories in the jar but the whole family contributes to what should be written so it is truly a family effort. But, contrary to what you might think, memories are verbs. There are actions in memories. We have to do something, see something, hear something, notice something for it feel like a true memory.

We have to notice the beauty or we may miss it. And then you’ll get to the end of your day and think there’s nothing to write about today. There weren’t any A-ha Moments, in other words. It might have been a lovely day, a wonderful day even but no memories?? How can that be? How sad! What a tragedy!

I brainstormed one evening during my gratitude practice and discovered that there’s a whole lotta memories and living happening that we had glossed over as a family. I had been ignoring some wonderful, tiny, special, glittery moments that pass by with barely a blink.

This lesson was a lot like in the movie, “Up” when Mr. Frederickson realizes that his wife was a dreamer, yes, but that their everyday life together was all that really mattered to her. Such a poignant moment in the movie and I dare you to not cry during that scene. Double dare.

The reason that scene is so emotional for so many is because we realize that we are all so busy chasing those big “Rainbow” moments that we often forget about the small, everyday shimmery ones.

And, this memory jar project is also great motivation to start living life more. I highly recommend you start this jar today. You can put the little notes of paper in anything at all — a bowl, a ziplock bag — but start today. You will not regret it. Please share some ideas for memories to write down as well in the comments!

Here are 25 ideas to trigger your brain to remember the good stuff, the in-between stuff, the small but-oh-so-wonderful moments.
  1. Silly songs your family sings
  2. The crazy things kids say
  3. The crazy things parents say
  4. Anything related to body functions
  5. Illnesses — or better yet, that amazing feeling you feel when you are finally better!
  6. Random Acts of Kindness — both that you’ve done and when others do it to you
  7. Movie nights, game nights, art nights
  8. Big, scary bugs
  9. Big, scary messes
  10. Trips — big and little, far and near
  11. Daily rituals
  12. Traditions
  13. Adventures — tame and wild
  14. Learning moments
  15. Teachable moments
  16. Firsts. Ah, the firsts. {first roller skating experience}
  17. Books read — this includes parents’ books, too!!
  18. Special meals {spontaneous invite to a friend’s for Pizza Margherita!}
  19. Neat sightings {like when we saw 5 deer run across a highway}
  20. Silly things that make everyone laugh like taking a night to talk in a made-up language
  21. Weird things{ like when five cats suddenly show up living in your backyard.}
  22. The precious, sweet moments when you catch random kindness
  23. Your promotions and successes at work or in your community
  24. Your milestones {such as when I did back bends in yoga!!}
  25. Your dreams turning to reality {the day 5,000 people visited my blog!!}

At the end of the year — or whenever you feel like it — read these notes from the whole year. Now, share some of your own ideas to add to our memory jars!

I love family art days. When our family gets together at the dining room table to do art together, my heart swells with pride. It’s perhaps one of my Top 10 family moments each year.

Fortunately and unfortunately we had time to throw together Family Art this past weekend.

To say that one of my girls was under the weather would be an understatement. It was the kind of illness that leaves you worried around the clock. The result was not only the cancelling of a very big trip but the inability to really do anything at all but sit and soothe.

In the middle of it all, I really wanted to do something fun and special to cheer us all up, especially the sick girl. First we wrote her little notes, which were fine but not enough. By the third day, notes just weren’t going to cut it.

And then I remembered a project I had been planning to do: A Family Banner. You can take this project in many directions, but we wanted it to be so simple that everyone could do it, even a very sick little girl. My amazing friend Jena sparked the concept of this project in me when she commented on my Wonder Board post about how she has conversations with her daughters about how to describe their family.

I love how this project requires a little thought, conversation and planning. I love how it gets us all thinking about what family means. I love that it’s artistic but also very meaningful to us. I love that it hangs just so under our family photos that mean so much to us as well.

Again, I emphasize that I love creative projects that are easy, accessible and practical. I feel this falls into that category perfectly. Anyone can do this with very simple materials and effort.

All you need to do this project is the following:

  • Colored Paper of your choice
  • White or lighter color paper of your choice
  • Yarn, string or some other hanging material
  • Hole punch
  • Art supplies — whatever you have on hand.

First I cut the papers to fit to a nice rectangle size. I actually used two colors of the background paper and a nice light gray.

And then, while everyone was sitting around — well, that’s all we did — I asked questions about what it means to be family such as what does family mean, family stands for ___ ? or what is our family like? For our girls, who are 6, it took a little effort to get this conversation started but once it did, their ideas were overflowing. These were some of their answers:

Family is cool

Family is sweet

Family is caring

Family takes care of each other

I added a few of my own as well …

Our family is beautiful

Family is forever.

We took turns writing those saying on each flag and then decorating those flags.

And then, the magical part, came when we each created our own Name flag for the banner. We wrote our names — I wrote my many names such as Mama, Mommy, Shawn, Writer, etc. — and then we gave them flair with collage!

We had a ton of fun with this part of the banner.

Our banner now hangs lovingly in our family room where we can all see it every day. It’s a nice happy reminder of what really matters each day — even when things really don’t go our way. A wonderful reminder that the four of us are always here for each other when the going gets tough.

Bubble Heart via Worth1000. Click image for details.

If your family is at all like ours than this Tuesday — Valentine’s Day — will be just another crazy-busy day for you. You know, like all Tuesdays. The kids will be in school. There is work for Awesomely Awake Dad and myself. And, to make the day even more exciting, I have a PTO meeting and AA Dad has a board meeting that evening. Very romantic and chic!

And, we didn’t line up a babysitter for this weekend, either.

But this doesn’t upset me. We’ve already started writing our Secret Love Notes. And, truly, I’m happy at home with my family {as long as there’s a bag of Lindt’s truffles and two episodes of Parenthood waiting for me on the couch after the kids are in bed.} Plus, every day is the day to show your love to the people in your life. One day just isn’t enough!

Love is such an important value to teach our children and I love to make holidays special. This one is particularly appealing since it gives us a chance to promote all kinds of love. Love of humanity. Love of family. Love of the life we live.

Here are some creative, fun and special ways to celebrate the love you have for your WHOLE  family this weekend or Monday night, or Tuesday morning — even if you are super busy like we are.

CHALK ART: Tell them you love them with artistic words and hearts in your driveway, on your sidewalk or even on the side of your brick house. The one above is an adorable heart walk that I found on a blog that is new to me, Frugal Family Fun. Don’t forget to write I LOVE YOU.

DINE TOGETHER: Have a candlit dinner as a family the night before or the night after — or whenever you can fit it in. You can go out, but it might be more fun at home. Light candles. Put out a fancy table cloth. Perhaps some soft music. Conspire with the kids by telling them to keep it a secret, which may inspire them to get into the spirit as well! Then, make it a tradition! There’s been a lot of ideas going around for heart-shaped pizzas, pizzas with heart-shaped pepperoni but I think this Taste of Home Chocolate Heart Pizza would be a hit at our house. Well, any pizza is a hit at our house.

MAKE A FAVORITE DISH: For us, it’s creme brulee. Maybe it is cupcakes at your house. Or cookies. Something you all enjoy but maybe do not eat a lot of the rest of the year. This weekend, make it. Enjoy it. Love on it a bit. We all love creme brulee, and it happens to be my absolute favorite dessert. Win. Win. Does this Lavender Creme Brulee just make you want to crawl into that little ramekin? Oh, yum.

JAM TOGETHER: Make a family playlist and dance together. Sneak a dance with your partner, too. And, hello, my good interwebs pal Jean at Artful Parent mentioned Bubble Dancing a while back and, well, I think it’s a lovely idea to try in the winter — just so we can watch the bubbles freeze!

SPRINKLE WITH LOVE: I kind of adore sprinkles. The more colorful the better. Splash them on everything, even cereal, pancakes or yogurt — or just on your tongues! Don’t forget to add the whipped cream. I like this cake batter pancake idea so. very. much. I mean it’s a combo of pancakes and cake. Together. Unreal.

DATE ON THE COUCH: Finally, like I said, I’m extremely happy these days just sitting and watching Parenthood with The Hubs. We enjoy this show so much that it’s a treat every single time {I’m anti-tv the rest of the week!}. So, my hope is that on Valentine’s Day we will return to the couch and be together. Yes, we will be tired but we will can still indulge with a treat or two like … {shh, he reads these posts} … maybe a little surprise like this from Eat Drink Chic.


How do you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day and show your love this week? Have you already started? Do you have any special traditions either as a couple or as a family? Please share ideas!

My little girls turn 6 today and this year we had the best and most meaningful party of all the  6 parties we’ve held for them.

Winter birthdays are complicated. First, the weather is often a major issue. In fact, as a February baby myself, I remember waching foot after foot of snow fall on the days of my parties. And, because you can’t plan to be outside for a winter party, they have to be indoors, which defines the birthday as either being a huge blow out at a special — and expensive — venue or a small home party, which these days is just not done that often.

Long live the home party! After 6 parties, I finally got it right this time around. I wanted this birthday to be special for them. It wasn’t about the friends or the gifts or even the theme. It was about them. Well, it was always about them but it was also always about me and who I wanted to attend and who I was trying to impress. Sometimes the birthday party is about the PARTY and not the special people having the birthday. I admit that I kind of got sucked into that societal pressure for a few birthdays. But, at the last party, when gifts couldn’t be opened because of too much chaos at the venue, I decided enough was enough.

Birthdays are about human beings being born into this world. There is no greater gift.

That said, friends who attended our party on Sunday told me that I should go into business planning parties. I guess I made it look that easy and magical. It was really all about the girls, though, and I do believe that is what made this party so special.

Here’s my 10 tips for creating magical AND MEANINGFUL winter birthdays — kid style!

  1. Hold a countdown: Much like an advent calendar before the Christmas season, it’s easy to have a birthday countdown to make each day leading up to the Big Day special. Do a small About Me activity and do that same one each year. Or, do one of these interviews each year. Such a great idea. We are doing the interview and tucking it into their school binder but this box would be neat to do.
  2. Keep it small. Those packs of invitation often come with 8 or 10. Buy only one pack and that’s the invite list. If half the list cannot attend, all the better. Make those few people feel special.
  3. Skip the party. We are actually doing this next year. Instead of a party, we’re letting the birthday girls choose a destination and for about the same price as presents and three parties we will spend the night in a hotel and visit a fun (indoor) museum or attraction and grab a few meals out. Spending time together is always the best gift. {I’m sure we’ll still get them a present for their birthday.}
  4. Make it colorful. Use balloons and pretty colors. The more colorful you can make a winter party, the more special it will feel. We went with pink and black and the gray screaming through the windows didn’t even matter. It was glorious inside.
  5. Rid your home of clutter. All clutter must be put away in order to have the most effective party. It’s a hassle, but it’s necessary so that children and adults can’t make much of a mess. The end result is very much worth it. Besides, with less clutter there’s nothing but time to focus on each other and celebrate rather than picking up all week.
  6. Celebrate the whole week. That’s right. Have the party on the weekend with friends. The actual party at school or preschool during the week. And a family party the following weekend. Winter can be long enough between sunny days — birthday weeks just make it all worthwhile.
  7. Create a treasure hunt. I cannot stress enough how awesome treasure hunts are for children. I’m not sure what age this gets old for but I will continue to do these as often as possible because they. are. that. awesome. The treasure hunt and the treasures themselves can vary. We did one at the party just for the cake. We’ll do another today for the presents. It’s a simple thing to create with the most amazing Fun impact.
  8. Feast on the finest: By finest, I mean do not go to yet another chain-store-like restaurant where the noise permeates your brains. Nor should you go to a fine dining restaurant where the only move you can make is to the bathroom and back. Eat at home — on the foods your special loved ones love the most. At our house that is macaroni and cheese (for one) and hamburgers (for the other). Maybe it’s pickles and spaghetti. Whatever it is, combine the birthday boy’s or girl’s two or three favorite foods and eat that … make it memorable! Make it fun! Make it special!
  9. Drink hot chocolate. Our favorite, favorite ritual this year has been to create a hot chocolate bar for special days. We do it up right, too, with whipped cream, marshmallows, sprinkles, candy canes, and chocolate chips. There is no greater joy than a steaming cup of cocoa with whipped cream and sprinkles. I assure you. Make sure you make it for your special someone first thing in the morning so they get their winter birthday off to the best possible start. And, you can make them these pancakes (topped with candles, of course) as well! We don’t do any of the special containers or fancy printables — we just set it all out with a lot of spoons!
  10. Build a banner: By far, the coolest thing I did this winter birthday season was create a birthday banner. This banner was the highlight of my week and my children’s week. It’s winter but that doesn’t mean we can’t look at photos from the summer and many summers ago. I highly recommend taking a walk down memory lane with this special birthday banner.

“Living involves tearing up one rough draft after another.” Unknown

As I’ve sifted through the journals of the last several years of my life — both the years I fought infertility and the years since I became a mother of twin girls — I’ve learned some startling things about myself. I’ve had to throw out a few rough drafts of who I thought I was at the time. They were good. I liked them. They worked at the time. Some may even work again some day. Who knows?

But, they no longer work. Projects I thought were great then are no longer.

I’ve known for a while that I have seasons of creativity — seasons when I produce more, seasons when I produce less, seasons when I dream more, seasons when I dream less. All of these seasons, no matter the outcome, led me to the same themes, themes I have often ignored.

I have always put practical before the dreams, which is why so many drafts have been tossed out. They never felt right. They never felt authentic. They never ignited a true spark that I could stick with and sustain.

I struggle very much with sustainability. I get fired up about an idea and then, later, it fizzles or I fizzle or we all fizzle and then I’m left wondering how I got into this mess and, more importantly, how the hell can I get out now that I have no fire burning inside of me for it.

But going through these journals has elevated the fact that I am on the right path, finally. The same amazing themes have popped up over and over and over in my writings.

I’m OK now that I’ve had a few — OK, several — rough drafts of myself over the years. In fact, there has been too many to count. It will be easy for me to lead my daughters down a path of authenticity — to live a life that they measure for themselves — knowing that we never know what we’re going to be in life. Enjoy the ride. Go with the flow. Let your passions lead you, let your heart lead you and then let your brain bring you back, reel you back in and help you find that balance of what is right, what works, what doesn’t and where you should go next.

The doors open all the time. Some of us know how to notice that, others do not. Not every door is the right door but they all certainly lead us on the right journey — our journey.

I’d like to think that now, just a couple years shy of turning 40, now as an experienced mother, now as a true creative soul who has embraced Living as Art that I may not need to throw out any more drafts. I’d like to keep this draft. I may tweak it a bit. I may change a few things around. I may even toss out a few big paragraphs that I thought were really good. But I like myself more now than ever.

For the first time, I respect myself and who I’ve become. It’s pretty radical, really, to be here in this place of such self-love.

And, I’m OK with throwing it all out to the wind if I must. I”ll just be really surprised because I’m awesomely awake now and I just get myself. I hold no more apologies of who I am. I not only know my values but I trust them as my guiding force.

The draft was always mine to keep and tweak. The story was always mine to plot.

The ending is mine as well.

 “Imagination is the divine body in every being.” William Blake

The following are some of the questions I’ve asked myself over the past few years. For some, there are answers. For others, I’m still seeking. Seeking and seeking.

What scares you?

How can you outsmart your fears?

What makes me different?

How do you wish to bloom?

What turns you off?

What turns you on?

What energizes you?

What inspires you?

What makes you smile?

Who do you admire?

Who in your life is living their dreams?

What is begging to take action.

What would you do right this minute if you knew you couldn’t fail?

What is a village to you?

How can I change this situation?

How can I accept this situation?

How can I Own my creative soul?

What is my purpose?

What am I good at?

What do I love to do?

How am I beautiful?

What do I have to say in this world?

These questions have helped me understand my true self, my authentic self. I have written pages and pages — hundreds, really — of pages trying to understand myself, to tap into that nagging presence inside me.

In a startling inspiring moment, I started sifting through all of those pages. I’ve kept them all. I’m in the process of unearthing them and putting them into one spiral bound binder — the start of something Big. Perhaps it will become my business plan. Perhaps it will become a Source for writing. Perhaps it will unveil something I do not yet know could even imagine right now, at this very moment in time.

The end result, though a mystery, is already proving a good exercise in authenticity. I see common threads of things written five, four, three, two years ago. It’s all been there, all in my mind. It’s my job to wake to what has been calling my Name — my real name — and let it be so.

 What questions help you dig deep and uncover your truest self? What are you asking yourself over and over to unearth the goodness inside of your soul?

Store Window Reflection by Joseph Szymanski

I used to think happiness was doing the One Single Thing in this world that we’re called to do. I used to think that if that wasn’t possible, then happiness would just remain elusive.

This or that. Black or White. Either, Or.

Then, after I became a mother, I started to question and wonder about all of my dreams and callings. Suddenly, paralyzed with what I no longer had time for in life such as writing, my dreams got bigger and bigger. I soon realized that life isn’t about just one dream, or one calling. There’s enough space in life for all of it, including our swollen dreams.

I truly appreciate Daniel’s post about What Makes You Come Alive over at Metta Drum on this topic because I’ve been preaching that to my writing students for a while now. We can be writers AND something else entirely. In fact, as someone who’s been a writer to earn money and someone who’s just been a writer, I feel confident in saying that the latter is actually better for the love of the craft unless earning money is no issue for you. It’s OK to be more than one thing in life.

For me, it’s about Balance.

There’s no greater way to stop being a creative writer than writing to earn a living. Deadlines loom. We get tired of staring at the computer screen all day. We grow tired of thinking of the right words to use all day. So, at night, we resort to anything, everything that isn’t writing. Pretty sad way of life if all you ever wanted to be was a writer, as I have.

And yet, the funny thing is that as writers or creative types, we often need to interact with the outside world to refresh our ideas or to gather up new ideas. For some of us, the outside world is our muse.

I’m tired of falling prey to the evil This or That Syndrome. I’m tired of feeling like I have to be a mother all day and not a woman with dreams. I’m tired of being a fulltime worker all day and having to put away my mother hat even though my kids consume my every thought. I’m tired of having to choose one or the other, this or that.

I’m a working Mama by day and a writer the rest of the time. That’s who I am. All of it.

For the longest time, I tried to separate my many selves because of this societal pressure to be only one thing.

Through lots of reading and practice, I’m learning that the best place, the happiest place, is when all of our many selves collide into the one Authentic person we truly are in life. It’s a little bit of that humanist, freethinker, writer, mother and thought leader in me that led to this blog. I’m a writer but I”m so much more than that as well. I have dreams and ideas. I’m a mother but I”m much more than that, too.

So if you find yourself compartmentalizing your many, many selves take comfort: Open yourself up and find a way for them to all burst onto the scene. Be One with them All. That’s the only way to reach your authentic voice.

With proper balance and centering, we can wake up and find space for all of our dreams. At least, that is, if we want to be Real.

“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.”
Anais Nin

There is no better feeling than when a fresh new idea strikes. That feeling of intense inspiration feels like a rush and I admit to feeling addicted to that feeling of adrenalin running rampant.

Each week, I am swarmed with new ideas both original and those I learn about on the Internet. I have so many ideas that I’ve recently taken to emailing some of the ideas to myself just so I feel I have given them an outlet,  a place of their own. Often, very often, I move on and never act on those ideas. And, just the same, the clog of too many ideas leaves my mind feeling cluttered and scattered because all I can think about are new ideas, which means I’m really living in the future and not The Now. My to-do lists are like excavation projects — long, dark and cave-like and hard to dig through. I usually get frustrated in the middle and abandon quickly.

While I implement many simple and easy-to-do ideas into my personal life and home, I don’t act enough on the bigger ideas that I have about our society or my big picture plan. Just writing this blog post and meditating on the spiritual aspect of new ideas has led me to realize that I do not take enough of my ideas and turn them into reality.

Perhaps because of fear? Or lack of energy?

“An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.”

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on Buddha’s teachings. {Reading is often when I get most of my ideas.} And one thought in particular has struck  me: the power of getting an idea and just sitting with it and not acting on it. A large part of my mind is relieved to realize that I don’t have to act on them all and, therefore, I do not have to feel guilt for not putting a new idea into action.

And yet, I also know that acting upon the best ideas helps lead us to success and productive living.

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, that is way great spiritual giants are produced.”
Swami Vivekananda

This post idea came to me on Sunday during a small group discussion. One friend said she doesn’t get many ideas but when she does it’s all she can think about and nothing can stop her. Another said that he views ideas — the ones he acts upon — as his legacy.

And I love that thought. In fact, I used to think that way along time ago — before children took over most of my thoughts.

So just how do we idea-obsessed folks handle all the ideas? I have scoured the Internet in search of some great ideas on how to manage Too Many Ideas Syndrome.

  • Well, we sign up for Pinterest, for one. Right?
  • And, this list over here at Lifehack is pretty great.
  • I also really love this list of 9 Ways to Overcome Too Many Ideas Syndrome at Writer’s Digest, particularly because it is just for writers with too many ideas. Hello, that’s me!
  • Of course, if we are feeling true abundance and at peace in our life, we won’t really care if we have too many ideas. Creative abundance is always a good message. You can read about that here.

I guess the message is that if we are blessed with one really good idea that consumes or dozens of small ones, we should feel honored that we are the ones carrying these ideas. It’s our job, one day at a time, to carry them into fruition.

Maybe we can’t agree on what happens after we die but can certainly all agree that what we do here while we are here matters a whole lot. What ideas are we leaving behind? What ideas are we closing a door on today? Where is the courage within us to reach inside and pull out that one really good idea that might impact the world, or at least ourselves for a while?

And, better yet, are we ready to just let ideas rest until we know they are worth pursuing?

How do you handle your ideas? Please share both on how you archive them but also how you implement them and put them into action.

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