Shadow ArtistYou may be aware I am quite a fan of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a 12 week program, and I have created a freebie email series that sends you a weekly email with a check in from the previous week and a list of the next week’s tasks. I am just starting the 12 week series and this is what is leaping out at me in Week One; the Shadow Artist.

Of all things, it’s making me think again about my parenting. When my daughter was a young infant and then toddler, I had a horror of disciplining her. I suffered from the illusion many parents seem to; that if I disciplined my child, she would no longer love me. The reality was, without discipline, I would no longer like her. And that is where the danger grew and blossomed until eventually, at some point, I was able to shift gear from a mother who nurtured to a mother who could provide discipline and nurture. I am happy to say we have had a wonderful relationship for at least the last decade and she is a glorious teen.

Aside from that irrational fear that she would not like me, what also stopped me from disciplining her was a fear of squashing her creativity. With the benefit of hindsight I now realise that when children are 5 and under their creativity is not yet under much threat. Painting, drawing, play doh, singing, dancing – all of these are regular activities for children at home and at school. And boundaries and creativity are very good friends, after all.

The real risk to creativity starts to occur as children move from primary to high school and creative tendencies are starting to show green tendrils of potentiality. However the rigidity of the peer environment where no mistakes or stupidity can occur make for a very hostile environment for creativity to flourish. The power of the recognition of the description of the Shadow Artist in Chapter one highlights that this is what happened to me. That was why I had such a horror of injuring my daughter’s artist.

 …It takes nurturing to make an artist. Shadow artists did not receive sufficient nurturing. They blame themselves for not acting fearlessly anyhow

That really, really makes sense to me. Your artist is a tender, vulnerable creature who needs encouragement and nurturing. Your teens need you to give them the “go on, give it a go and learn!” message, not a message of fear and caution. That’s exactly what I can do right now with my talented teen. And while I’m at it, I am re-nurturing my artist with Artist Dates, Morning Pages and making my way back through the 12 week program to see what I missed last time.

I will finish with another two quotes from Week 1 that I find very inspiring:

In order to recover as an artist, you need to be willing to be a bad artist. Give yourself permission to be a beginner. By being willing to be a bad artist, you have a chance to be an artist, and perhaps over time, a very good one.

…and

“..do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano/act/paint/writ a decent play?” Yes … the same age you will be if you don’t. So let’s start.

Here’s to a New Year filled with plenty of bad art, good art and brilliant art.

ReflectionThere’s something about the end of the year that calls for reflection. On what you achieved in 2014, and what will now be on the to do list for 2015. But more than anything, it calls for a building on strengths. Do not berate yourself for what you did not do; look at what you did achieve and spend some time thinking about why you didn’t achieve other things. It may just be that you don’t want to do those things, not really. In which case, get rid of it!  ‘Tis also the season for a culling, a getting ready for 2015 and a renewal of commitment and passion.

An Invitation
Here’s an invitation to try a 2014/2015 reflection exercise; I am paying forward the love from my coach, Susie Ascott who suggested this to me:

  1. Get two big sheets of paper and coloured textas, label the sheets; Wins for 2014, and Wins for 2015.
  2. Ask yourself the question; “What are you pleased and grateful for in 2014?” Visually depict your wins for the year on the sheet.
  3. Then ask the question: “What are you pleased and grateful for in 2015?” Pause, imagine it is December 2015 and talk about your wins for 2015, all in the present tense, as if they have already happened. Visually depict them on sheet 2.

Some guiding principles

As you are reflecting on your year, here are some guiding principles, heavily influenced by great work by great women that I have been reading over 2014.

1. How do you want to feel?

If you haven’t heard or seen of the work of Danielle La Porte,  now may be just the perfect time to have a look at her work on Desire Mapping. Essentially her Desire Mapping book and products support you to think not about what concrete tasks you want to do, but how you want to feel when you achieve those concrete tasks. It gets you thinking about your desires and goals in a fresh and empowering way. If you think about why you want to do a project, it really helps to connect you with the why.

2. Don’t hate on yourself

I feel like I may have been late to the Brene Brown party, but I absolutely love her work on shame and shame resilience in Men, Women and Worthiness. In this work she talks about how shame has different triggers for men than it does for women. For women, we tend to feel shame when we don’t have it all together; say for example when we haven’t achieved what it is we set out to do in 2014. She makes the vital distinction between shame and guilt. With shame, you become the fault, with guilt, you identify the fault as a behaviour, not as you. So when thinking about your 2014, the shame response might be; “I am useless”, whereas the guilt response would be; “I didn’t get these things done”. The shame response does not allow you to move forward positively; the guilt response reminds you that where you are is not where you want to be, and spurs you into action. It may also be important to think about why you didn’t get it all done; perhaps you were asking too much of yourself. It is a tendency we women have.

3. Ten Agreements – Our Responsibilities and Opportunities

During the year I met 10 times over 20 weeks with a group of women to study The Ten Agreements. It was a wonderful opportunity to think deeply about what is different about being a woman and how this affects your experience of spirituality. The overarching message I took away is that women in the Western World have unprecedented opportunities and freedoms and this creates an amazing opportunity and responsibility. Agreement Three, for example, is to “Accept Sole Responsibility for Creating the Future… I take responsibility to consciously evolve so that, for the first time, women can deliberately define our co-creative role in culture.” That is a wonderful foundation to think about 2015; co-creating our future.

So enjoy your time of reflection; be gentle on yourself and dream big!

PersephoneDemeter20q@72From November 2013 I started on My Crazy Year when I was sure I wanted to start a business. The year actually lasted until I started a new job in January 2015 where I can feel myself once again settle. All along, all I really wanted to do was come out as a writer. But somehow, that was not easily accommodated without upending every other aspect of my life.

During My Crazy Year, I did a lot of online entrepreneur training. I mean A LOT. This is actually my third blog on the topic. The first blog was about how darned addictive signing up for on-line training is and the second (as a recovering training addict) to provide some guidance about when online training is useful; and when it isn’t. You know, if you can’t be a good example, be a horrible warning. This blog asks you to consider four things before you sign up

1. The clever marketing is often an end in itself

So much of the online training available is cleverly marketed to appeal to your pain points, and offer the right solution. If you are a solution-focused person like myself, this marketing ploy will work like a charm. All too often however, the actual transaction that is being offered is a sale, not transfer of knowledge. Once you have been suckered in by the marketing, clicked the “Get instant access” button  to buy the training, that may be the end of the relationship between you and the trainer.  You may never even access or download one megabyte of information and no-one will ever contact you to ask you why and where is your excuse note. It would be hard to track the data, but the attrition rate of online training must be absolutely staggering in terms of money spent versus actual knowledge gained.

Back in the day when I was signing up madly for training, I wanted to find out what was at the end of the rainbow, or perhaps like Demeter, I wanted to enter Hades and reclaim Persephone and bring Spring back into the world. So down into Hades I went, following the trail of the excellent marketing copy for the many training programs that promised all my business solutions were at the end of a click. I so wanted this to be true! After an inordinately long time in Hades I have only recently re-emerged with a somewhat peeved Persephone in tow who wondered when in the hell I was going to complete her release from the Underworld of online sales. I’m back. Really, truly recovered now! I really get it that there is no magic, quick fix; just a focus on one thing at a time, develop your skills and in time it may all come together in a profitable business or in a successful creative project. But it takes time and lots of patience. Not a quick Get Instant Access button.

2. Most online training is done by people who know lots about their subject but didley-squat about adult learning principles

I can’t count the number of hours I have spent listening and reading material, filling in pdfs etc. How often my heart has sunk and the knowledge the  next audio is 1.5 hours and must be listened to at some point, possibly to extract about 20 minutes of actual learning. Whose learning style is that working for exactly? Nobody’s I suspect – it is just the trainer wanted to share all their knowledge in a massive download that swamps but doesn’t necessarily help you to master a new skill. Most people may be familiar with the concept of learning styles – the most commonly discussed learning styles are visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. This relatively simplistic approach to learning styles has been somewhat superseded a more complex learning style matrix by Felder and Silverman. I found a great Mindtools article on Felder Silverman earning Styles that references  the four learning continuums: Active/Reflective, Sensory/ Intuitive, Visual/Verbal and Sequential/Global.  The article even has a link to a questionnaire that gives instant feedback on what your learning preferences are. (Strongly intuitive, moderately active and global, slap bang in the middle for visual/ verbal, if you wanted to know). The point is, as an on-line trainer, you are going to have all learning style combinations you can think of. You need to mix it up if you are going to be able to engage everyone on the internet, and give them the opportunity to gain something from their time with your online course.

3. Quality will win out

About three months ago I stumbled across on-line training enthusiast Dr Kelly Edmonds who has 20 years’ experience and numerous qualifications in adult learning. She notes “to truly teach you need to ensure your students learn, not that you delivered a lesson.” The email that sent me towards Dr Kelly’s website noted the plethora of poorly designed online training and mentoring courses. I thought back to my time in Hades and the many online courses I bought and how few of them really ensured that the students were learning. Just imagine how it would change the space of on-line training if well-designed courses were the norm? What if, say, people in the online entrepreneur space reported on how many people had signed up to their recent courses, how many had completed, and crucially, how many had implemented? It would cause sales to plummet I suspect.

4. Online training still rocks

But despite these cautionary tales, on-line training is something I really do believe in both as student and teacher. The convenience of being able to access training from the comfort of your own home is wonderful; as is the more affordable price tag that is often attached to online training. The technology of the internet creates some exciting opportunities to present material; and the opportunities for those of us who really want to create wonderful quality seem very positive. And of course, online training is completely flexible and ideally suited to be adapted to any and all learning styles.

So… online training is neither good nor bad, but procrastination makes it so. A finished online course where you have taken action on the course contents can be awesome. It’s just a little bit rare…

stand behind yourselfThere is something quite challenging about calling your website or business name after you. But in the case of a writer, artist, healer, coach – your name may be the most sensible way to go when deciding on a name. Here’s a few reasons to consider:

1. Diversity
You may have a range of different books, offerings and products. With a business named after you, it is easy to bring them all together in one digital place-on your own website named after you.

2. Differentiation
There might be a zillion business coaches, but there’s only one Barb Wade, for example. At the heart of it, people buy from people-especially if it is an artwork, a book, a course, coaching. It makes no sense for your clients to have to think of what your business name is, when you already have a perfectly usable name – your own.

3. Trust
People also like to know who they are buying from, and if they have heard of you through twitter, facebook, LinkedIn etc, they feel they can trust you through their other online or real world interactions with you.

4. Passion
People know that if you are putting your name out there as the business name, you are effectively putting yourself on the line. It shows that you are passionate about what you do and willing to risk your all.

5. Self-belief
I would add another reason for you-it is a powerful way for you to demonstrate your belief in yourself. And remember, it doesn’t have to feel safe or easy-as Julia Cameron would say “I have learned never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seatbelt. The most remarkable things follow.”

Don’t wait to be ready; taking action will make you ready!

I am feeling like a kid at Christmas. For weeks now I have been working in the background, putting together The Abundant Businesswoman’s Summit. Now the countdown is on until its 1st March 2014 launch.

For those that live and breathe the online world, the concept of a Summit maybe all to familiar. For others, a Summit conjures up images of politicians gathering somewhere to debate matters of state.

For those who live in the real world, an online Summit is a virtual event where people are interviewed and share their wisdom and knowledge on a given topic, usually offering some kind of free gift to those who sign up to listen to the series.

I am so excited to be able to offer this free, informative, inspiring event, The Abundant Businesswoman’s Summit. I have chosen to keep the audio interviews to 30 minutes as I know everyone is busy.

I have asked each of the 21 Abundant Women Entrepreneurs these five questions:
1. Abundance – what is that to you?
2. Can you tell me about the best business idea that you have implemented to turn your passion into an abundant business?
3. What did you struggle with most when you were getting started?
4. What strategies did you use to overcome those struggles?
5. What is the single most important abundance building habit you have developed in your business?

Their answers will intrigue, inform and inspire you. Their generosity in the free gifts they offer will have you too feeling like it’s Christmas!

I just can’t wait to share it with you! You can sign up here and share the love on Facebook

So looking forward to “seeing” you there!

InspirationI would call this a book review, but I haven’t actually finished the book yet.  I’m too excited by the concepts in the book to wait until I finish to write about it.  The book is The War of Art and among a number of mind-blowing gems is the importance of showing up, each and every day.  Rather than being hypnotised by the enormity of an artistic endeavour, just-show-up;

“Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying … Because when we sit down, day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen…. power concentrates around us.  The Muse takes note of our dedication.  She approves… we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron fillings.  Ideas come.”

As if that is not enough to help you get out of procrastination and into doing, this gem on insight and encouragement to just sit down and get on with it appears in Book Two.  You will have already read Book One which dissects Resistance in its many ingenious forms.  The Enemy Within; resistance as we all know it, Procrastination.

There is something so helpful to see Resistance mapped out in its many forms that we can all recognise – self-dramatization, self-medication, sex, celebrity gossip, facebook… As each form of resistance is named its power seems to crumble.

The book contains a warning of the daily nature of resistance and how it needs to be overcome not once or twice, but daily.  Forever.

And that is the War of Art.

You will note that I am sitting down, blogging.  I have only had to do a whole load of volunteer work and have coffee with my sister before getting this done.  All in a morning’s artistic work!

 

 

fogI am a shameless social schmoozer, and I quite enjoyed the opportunity of Friday night’s Christmas Party at the City of Cockburn so I could spread the word about the impending Coolbellup Farmer’s Market due to start March 2014 (small fist pump!)

In between Christmas Party dinner courses I singled out people I wanted to talk to about the project, or update them face to face as they had shown support early on in the project.  Conversations lasted between courses, and then I would scuttle back to dine on the next course.

One of the conversations I had really resonated; “there’s a blog in that” I thought.  A business leader and I got talking about the difference between working for a salary and working for yourself.

Despite many years of experience, he describes the phenomenon of The Fog.  You don’t actually know for sure as a business owner, what will happen next.  You can see the next step in front of you but only by taking the next step are you going to move forward, where the next step will then be visible.

It was a revelation to me, as an emerging entrepreneur – to listen to someone so experienced articulate that business always involves uncertainty.  The experience you gain is more about how you manage that uncertainty.  So business is always a leap of faith, and the importance is to take the next step.  Should that be a mis-step this will be revealed and another choice made.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

 

 

committed-to-businessI think my car has been trying to tell me something. For a while there it had a fault in the fuel pump that made for a very stop-start experience in driving.  More worryingly, there were times it would cut out, such as when executing a right hand turn with traffic bearing down on me.

Off to the mechanics it went, and was fixed.  But it didn’t really get fixed, so after another near death experience turning right, back it went.

This time it came out wonderfully.  I felt that whatever my car had been trying to tell me I had addressed.

Then Saturday morning, South Beach Cafe, it wouldn’t start again.  I called roadside assistance and found there was some complication to fuel pumps and wires, which usually manifests about 2 weeks after the fuel pump is replaced.  I.e. now.  Sure it was a beautiful place to break down, but I felt held back, nonetheless.

So back in to the mechanic the car goes today with a fervent hope from me that it is finally fixed, like my compass, on smooth forward progression.

They say at the early stages of starting a business it is something you have to commit to, over and over.  Once you have a steady income stream, faith is not so requisite.  But in the early days, you need to keep on re-committing.

So that’s what I’m doing.  That’s what my car is teaching me.  Or just possibly it’s time to upgrade 😉

LighthouseTo make progress in life, one needs a coach. I have heard this so often in the last few years and eventually this year I finally heeded this advice.

The energy changes immediately – you know that you are going to be held responsible at the end of each week  for those things you said you were going to do.

I started to see her 10 weeks ago when the siren song to leave my day job became more and more irresistible.  Of the many pearls of wisdom she shared with me was to visualise myself as a lighthouse.  Be still,  but be very visible and people will find you.

Righto.

Work is progressing on my website as you can see, and  I am definitely on the road now to whatever is next.  Terrifying, but the only things worth doing in life are the things you are scared of.  Must be on the right track then.

Some women (and men) may be triggered by reading posts in the Not My Story Blog.  I have put together a simple list for Western Australian women of support services they can access.

For those in Western Australia, the main referral agency is the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC): SARC 24-Hour Crisis Line: 9340 1828 or Freecall 1800 199 888

They also offer counselling for historic assault or abuse, and they have a range of good group programs.  Call 9340 1820.

Allambee offer specialist counselling services in Mandurah: 9535 3869

Victim Support Services: they offer a range of support services especially during any justice processes

WA Police: if it is not an emergency it is really important to make an appointment to see someone senior.

Victoria’s Centre Against Sexual Assault is a great resource too