Creativity

When Your Soul Speaks, Listen

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“Does your soul have a message for you today?”

That was the question the meditation teacher asked during session.

It turns out my soul did. It often does, when I’m paying attention.

Usually, the messages are so simple I almost miss them. Or I judge them. Or second guess them. That morning, I decided to just shut up and receive what was given to me. By my soul. Yep. I wasn’t judging it, or questioning whether it really was my soul guiding me, nor was I second guessing it, “Are you sure that’s all?” or “What am I supposed to do with that?”

It was pretty simple. I got quiet. Inhale. Exhale. Body against the chair. Sink in. Inhale. Exhale. When thoughts came that started to take me somewhere else, I floated back to my breath. Inhale. Exhale.

Then, I asked the question of my soul. “Do you have a message for me?”

Inherently, I knew to trust the first thing that came. And, here it was.

“You already have everything you need within you to receive the answers you seek.

Yes, it’s good to seek knowledge and experiences and connections that enrich your life. But, the truest answers to your deepest questions are not discovered externally. Those are found within your own inner and higher wisdom, through your direct connection to the greater knowledge that is source, God and universe. This is your truth, always.”

So simple. And, such a great reminder to trust. And, to not complicate things by seeking outside of ourselves.

Certainly that’s not a new concept, that you have everything you need within you. But, it was the message I needed to hear, right then.

The next morning I asked the question again and got another answer, equally as simple and perfect for what I needed.

That’s the beauty of this short and sweet daily practice. Each time the answer is different, the message is appropriate for what you need right then, on the day in that moment.

It happens when you’re in your body, as your breath connects you to being fully present and the mind is focused on listening and being open to receiving.

In that space, with the curiosity of a child, simply ask your soul what it wants you to know, in that moment on that day.

What’s interesting is that you can tell when it’s your soul speaking. If it sounds or feels like judgment or punishment, it’s your ego, not your soul. Soul speak comes from your highest wisdom and you know it when you hear it.

“Wise souls speak loudly in silence” ~ Unknown

What a profound way to create the day, on message. On your soul’s message. It paves the way for your divine purpose to unfold.

Simply, reverently, freely.


Stick to Your Lane

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"I'll have what she's having." ~ When Harry Met Sally

I often marvel at my successful friends. I'm blessed to be surrounded by people who are riding at or near the top of their game, continually reinventing themselves and expanding their capacities for the big lives they're meant to live. 

And, as a person who is continuing to unfold and evolve herself in midlife, watching them brings on a myriad of thoughts and emotions and actions. For one thing, it can be intoxicating! And, riveting. And, thought-provoking. 

And, inspiring. And sometimes I think, maybe if I emulate a few of the things they're doing then that might possibly work for me too. Maybe they know something I don't and should. "I'll have what she's having." 

Ever been there?

Where someone you admire is on a certain track and you wonder somewhere in your always-seeking brain, if you should be on that track too? 

The upside of that is that you can learn a lot: tried and proven tips and techniques to apply to your own work and career path.

The downside? It can lead to that never-a-winner game called Comparison. Where you start looking at your life, comparing it to that person you admire or a career path you might covet or even envy. As Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." It's also the thief of success and certainly of self-fulfillment. Iyanla Vanzant said, "Comparison is an act of violence against the self." It only leaves you in a puddle of dissatisfaction and frustration. 

Hey, it's human to go there. I was there recently, after rejoicing in a friend's big successes, I caught myself in the downward spiral of comparison. Then, it went on to other fabulous friends who are kicking ass too. I started to question what path I was on, if perhaps I should be refocusing in some similar directions. Questioning all things like timing and choices and that started to lead to tiny thoughts of regret. Ugh. 

Well, there's one I did know for sure, and that was this train of thought was going nowhere good.

So, I got quiet. I did some deep work around it with some comrades who held me to my own fire, kept me accountable. I went underneath it, digging for the truths I've relied on over and over again. Then, in the midst of the quiet, when the competing inner voices had been silenced, I got the message I was meant to hear.

And, it was loud and clear: "Stay in your lane."

Stay in your lane.

And, it was an aha. Because the truth is whenever I've ventured over into someone else's lane for awhile, the lane of another writer or creative businesswoman where I want what she's having, I find that, beyond being inspired by them, I'm left chasing my tail and spinning my wheels. Why? Because it's their lane. It's not mine.

As soon as I step back over into my lane I'm reminded of what I do and what I love about what I do. Stay with that, my higher wisdom told me. Ground yourself in there, in the loving impact of your own lane.

It reminded me of a piece I'd written a couple years about a similar topic: 

In a “60 Minutes” interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tony Award-winning creator of the musical HAMILTON, Lin-Manuel talked about attending a school for gifted children. He said he looked around and everyone was smarter than him, he was “surrounded by genius, genius kids.” The interviewer asked him, “So why do you think I’m sitting here talking to you and not one of your classmates?” He said, “I picked a lane and started running faster than anyone else.”

“I picked a lane!” That lane led to the intense hard work and dedication that made him a true pioneer, recreating the modern Broadway musical. And, man is he ever in his purpose. His lane just continues to widen and elevate him and everyone around him.

This time around, it made me think about how sometimes we can lose direction when we try to run in a lane that doesn't lead to our own purposeful work, so much so that we lose sight for a moment of what that was supposed to be. 

When I got that concise, powerful message I felt something shift in my thinking, back to what's in alignment for my truth. The simple truth is I don't want to be in anyone else's lane. No one should. 

It’s just so simple. We make things so complicated at times and comparison, that pesky devil, robs us of living our most intentional and satisfying life. When seeking outside of ourselves - outside our lane - we follow someone else’s lead down their road, ending up chasing a goal or dream that was never ours to begin with. Then, we lose our way, our path becomes less clear, albeit hidden behind something other than our own truth. We then try to override our most meaningful intentions by trying to make them fit a different outcome, rather than simply trusting the truth and power of our own lane.

So, how to get back there? Get still, find your footing again. Then, deal with what's right there, inside you and in front of you. Listen to your own wisdom. Remind yourself what you love and where you're amazing. Remember the reasons you share what you share. Discuss it with your support team, those who know you and have your highest best interests at heart. 

And, follow your heart's deepest intentions.

So, good reminder, yes? I say stick to your lane. And, I'll see you along the way. 


How Meandering About Can Lead to Gold

 

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Photo by Emma Frances Logan on Unsplash

I took a Sunday drive this week.Through my mind.

I was bouncing around from thing to thing, flitting between writing and movies and articles and chapters and musings and organizing. It created a feeling of unsettle.

“I’m meandering,” I said to Gracie, who is ever present by my side. She looked at me mid-purr. "So what else is new," her look said. (at first I wrote 'what else is knew?" which made me laugh because there's true there too).

I do meander. Aimlessly at times, so that I can almost get dizzy from the spinning. Breathe.

Meander is fun to say, it's kind of a whimsical word. It basically means to “follow a winding course,” and is often used when referred to streams or bodies of water, “the stream meandered across the valley.”

People meander through a conversation, which can be interesting and deep and unexpected. That’s what makes for good conversation. Unless there’s a point to be made, and when everything is said except the point, you’d say, “he meandered around it but never said it.”

I’ve always loved bookstores and could wile away hours, meandering through the aisles of books and miles of stories contained therein. I miss that. It's just not the same to meander about through online bookstores.

You can meander through a day off, which is one of my favorite things to do, to give myself permission to just flow from one thing to the next. The truth is some of my best ideas present themselves on days like that, when I wander through, yes aimlessly.

It made me look at the word and it’s meaning more closely. I started playing with it. Me-ander. Or for fun, if I just plunk down an innocuous “w” in there, meander becomes me-wander.

Which then makes me wonder.

Is it really wandering aimlessly? Sure, sometimes. When there’s no specific intent or goal.

More often than not, for me, it’s wandering with too many aims at once.

But, meandering, to an artist, to a writer, to a creator? What about the freedom that comes from it? The wonder? The wonder of the wander.

There is wonder in the wander, when you remove the judgment and become more open. Give yourself permission. Permission is key.

“There’s gold in them thar hills.” – Mark Twain, in The American Claiment

There’s gold to discover in the meander; treasures in the sand on the long beach walk; vistas to relish on the Sunday drive, through the mind or otherwise.

There is so much value in just thinking. Many success leaders, such as Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, carve out time in their day to do just that. Think.

How great would it be if an entire class in school was devoted to just thinking. An hour of time just to encourage kids to learn from their own minds. Where the only recommended materials were a journal and a sketchpad. 

"What's your favorite class?"

"Thinking 101. I'm learning so much from myself."

"Yeah, it's my favorite too."

Or if a time-out was instead a think-out. Hmm. I guess it is, really. "You sit here and think about what you said to your sister."

Aim-full Meandering?

What if you put a little purpose behind the meander? If you gave it some aim. Is there such a thing as aim-fully meandering instead of aimless?

It could be as simple as asking a question or stating a simple intent for the day or the time in front of you.

Deep questions can lead to deep thinking.

"What will inspire me today?" "Am I living fully?" "What does my heart want?"

Or pick a word.

I have a bag of word cards and often pick a word at the beginning of day, or before I go to sleep or upon journaling. I like to think that energetically there’s a reason I picked that particular word.

It could be "clarity" or "simplicity" or "trust" or "collaboration." 

So, then it becomes a backdrop, an intent. 

Then the meandering has aim. Try wandering around, examining, kicking the tires, massaging, splitting open and devouring it with a freedom from any expectation. There's gold thar.  

Purposefully wandering.

Wonder with purpose. And curiosity.

Or just enjoy the meander, the wonder of the wander, the blissfulness of the aimlessness.

Sure, focus and prioritizing and completion are important. But, that’s another post.

This one, happily, was the result of a shameless and aimless me, wandering.


I Had An Epiphany! Now What?

 

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“I had an Epiphany!” 

We’ve all felt that inspiring moment of realization at one time or another, the powerful insight that was going to change everything.  It’s a great feeling, right?  

Today is the Day of Epiphany. I know that because as I glanced at the calendar to schedule my week of writing I saw “Epiphany” written on today, the day I was planning to publish a post. So, I had a little epiphany that I’d write about epiphany!

I didn’t wake up receiving 12 drummers drumming from my true love, but I woke up thinking about how much I love those sparks of inspiration, those rushes of insight that bring clarity.

The Day of Epiphany in Christian tradition signifies the 12th day of Christmas and ancient traditions culminated the season with a lavish Feast of Epiphany. It’s come to be known as “12th Night” in Great Britain. Shakespeare originally wrote his play, “Twelfth Night, or What You Will,” as part of the entertainment for Twelfth Night, Day of Epiphany celebration.

Epiphany is such a great word. In Greek the word means “manifestation.”

“I had an epiphany!” I’ve said. You’ve likely said it, or have heard it said, often.

An aha! Oprah says often, “I had an aha moment.” She’s even made it a thing, part of her brand. 

So, is an “aha” a small Epiphany? Does an Epiphany have to be huge? I feel like it should always be written with a capital E because to me Epiphanies are major, whether they’re large or small.

What to do with an Epiphany?

Epiphanies feed creativity, particularly when we follow them, court them, nurture them, build relationships with them, introduce them to others so they can flourish and become something beyond themselves.

It got me thinking about Epiphanies and how often they show up in our lives. A light turns on, we have that aha moment where a realization hits home in a way it hasn’t before. It’s enlightening and can be life changing.  

But, this is where the rubber meets the road. 

What we do with the Epiphany - the awakening - is what matters, right? The doing looks different for everyone. Sometimes the doing is not actually “doing” anything. It’s being the Epiphany. Living the realization, one day, one hour, one moment, one second at a time.   

It’s returning to the feeling evoked when the bells of Epiphany first started ringing. 

The first step is to recognize it’s a new thought, a new feeling. It might bring up some fears of the unknown and fears that we won’t be able to stay in the new thought. The first tendency might be to turn the other way, to go back into hiding behind the old frame of mind where it’s familiar and seemingly safe. That’s my habit sometimes. 

But, the second step is to stop. To breathe. To remember. To align our new feelings with the new thought. 

Ahhh. To relish in that space. 

The third step might be to share it with someone. As soon as you give voice to it, the resonance deepens and starts to become part of your physical, emotional and spiritual vernacular. 

A little bit today, more tomorrow and so it continues as you listen with a more familiar ear for those bells of Epiphany to toll until they become part of your life’s symphony. 

When was your last Epiphany? State it in the comments if you feel like sharing. Would love to hear from you.

 


How Procrastination Can Lead to Your Best Work

Because sometimes, procrastination isn't procrastination.

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Procrastination has gotten a bad rap. And, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the badness of it, and to browbeat ourselves over it. I get it. I’m an experienced perpetrator, judge and jury when it comes to the subject of procrastination, often handing down my own verdict: Bad Writer! 

As I’ve mentioned here I’ve been working on a memoir. And, for a while it was simply pouring out of me.

Until it wasn’t. It’s like the river of ideas just stopped flowing. I fell into what most people would call the abyss of procrastination, which kind of fascinated me, to be honest. I'd start by beating myself up, then by trying to pep myself up and then just giving up. It was a cycle that went on for days.

Then I realized, I was talking about the story with everyone I know, flushing out an idea for a title, discussing through lines, themes and what was underneath certain scenes, asking my family about specific events from childhood, clarifying my memory. The fact is, I’m thinking about this memoir all the time, like a hundred times a day. Also, I read some books about writing memoirs and connected with other memoirists to discuss various aspects of the genre.

That’s when it hit me. This is my process, not my procrastination. And, not just about writing. This is the way process shows up in every area of my life. 

So, when isn’t procrastination, procrastination? When it’s part of process.

The truth is, I noodle. And, I noodle, and then I noodle some more. Then, the pieces start to fit into place, like a mystery puzzle when you don’t exactly know what it’s going to look like completed. At that point, often the project really cranks, like it has a mind of its own, until it's a little jewel of creation. It becomes the product of what I now call Productive Procrastination.

Ah, there’s a reframe!

I think this new recognition of procrastination deserves some love here. Productive procrastinating can actually be very helpful.

I ran across three TED Talks recently that sparked more thought along these lines.

One of my favorite TED Talks, "Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator", Tim Urban talks about what happens when we procrastinate and how the "instant gratification monkey mind" takes the wheel, involving us in everything except what we're wanting to get done. Fellow procrastinators, this talk is a must-see. It's hilarious and my guess is you'll see yourself in what he describes. 

I say the monkey mind can be a great friend to creative productive procrastination.

In a fascinating TED Talk, “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers,” psychologist Adam Grant concluded that some of the most original and creative thinkers procrastinate, they incubate. “Procrastination gives you time to consider divergent ideas, to think in non-linear ways, to make unexpected leaps.” He says, “Procrastination can be a vice when it comes to productivity, but it can be a virtue for creativity." As a result of this process, "some of most creative people are fast to start and slow to finish." Yes!

The creative process is not rational, “the true essence of creativity is unexpectedness.”

That really takes the pressure off. Some of the most brilliant people I know are 11th hour geniuses. No matter how much time they have, they continually pull off brilliance at the last minute.

Author Manoush Zomorodi in her TED Talk “How Boredom Can Lead to Brilliant Ideas,” says, when you engage in mundane tasks you enter “default mode. Your body goes on autopilot and your brain gets busy forming new neural connections that connect ideas and solve problems.” You can probably recall times when THE idea or solution or word or thing came to you while you were doing something mundane, or by rote, like driving or taking a shower. Not that you should be bored while you’re driving, but your body is on autopilot so your mind can wander somewhat.

So, here are some ways to be a Productive Procrastinator:

  • Get bored. Do nothing. Stare at the wall. And...
  • Be still and just think. That’s it. Just noodle. Don’t take notes, don’t try and catch a thought. Just allow your mind to travel. Set a timer if you want to. Know that you’ll remember what you’re supposed to remember.

    “You call it procrastinating, I call it thinking.” Aaron Sorkin

  • Engage is some mundane, autopilot tasks: laundry, dishes, mow the lawn, any by-rote physical task.
  • Allow your imagination to take flight. This time take notes. No editing. No judging. Just free associate, mind to paper.
  • Be in nature. Being around such alive energy, it’s definitely where I do some of my best noodling.
  • Idea-storm, word-storm and brainstorm with others.
  • Keep trying new ideas and fresh ways to look at things. Sometimes it’ll take several passes before it’s the winner.
  • Know that “bad” ideas are simply pre-great ideas.

Remember, reflection is the Productive Procrastinator’s secret weapon. It's how ideas germinate and generate.

Then, put your project on your dance card. Make an appointment with yourself to get back to work on moving your project forward.

And, relax. There will be plenty of time to procrastinate again!


On Being Born to Run... and to Create and Play and Love and...

By Cindy Yantis

"Tramps like us, baby we were born to run." 

I'm happy to share a birthday with Bruce Springsteen, which happens to be September 23rd.

In his upcoming autobiography, Born To Run, The Boss talks about what was in his “Rock ‘n Roll Survival Kit: DNA, natural ability, study of craft, development of and devotion to an aesthetic philosophy, naked desire for… fame, love, admiration, attention, women, sex, and oh, yeah… a buck. Then, if you want to take it all the way to the end of the night, a furious fire in the hole that just…don’t…quit…burning.”

The contents of his Rock ‘n Roll survival kit got me thinking. I often take stock around birthday time and this year I'm thinking a lot about what I was born to do. And, out of those musings several truths have bubbled to the surface, various lessons learned over a few decades of life. Most of them I'm continually working and evolving through. Hey, it's what I was born to do. Most are not new ideas, just my spinnings on them, how they have flared up for me and became my truths. They are what I've come to believe.

Thought I'd share a few to mark being born. Let me know if you click with some of them and please add your own in the comments!

Born to Create

I believe the best legacy is a life well lived, in service to others and to a higher calling. Create from that place and it's unstoppable.

I’ve found a structured foundation supports infinite creativity: routine, outlines, scheduled time blocks, consistency.

Make what you love what you do.

I believe wisdom is meant to be shared selflessly - it's part of creation and it's dharma. 

Collaboration in creation is fantastic. It can push your limits and rise you to being a better creator than you ever could be on your own.

I believe a good story can heal, inspire and call to action.

Born to Seek, Learn, Grow

What’s in the way is the way – consciously going through the molasses, quicksand and pain is the way to heal into a better self. It wasn’t until I got this that I finally was able to heal old wounds. From pain to purpose.

We weren’t meant to just survive, but to thrive.

Curiosity opens doors; judgment closes them.

When you mess up, own up.

I have to focus on focusing.

Heed your intuition – my body talks to me as does that little voice that guides me to the yes, no or pause.

Letting go is hard but oh so necessary.

I believe in other realms and that we can learn from them if we pay attention.

Patience is one my wisest guides (I’m working on this one!) – slow down to allow divine timing to take its course. Breathe into patience.

Born to Play                                        

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Me at 4 years old

Laughter solidifies a moment. I simply love to laugh. 

Imagination is the playground where genius is born.

In the end, does crossing the finish line first really matter? 

I believe true freedom is to live like there is no finish line.

I believe in making play dates with my writing.

I believe what you can imagine is but a fraction of what's truly possible.

A little losing-track-of-time is good for the spirit. 

Born to Love

True connection is face-to-face, eye-to-eye, hand-to-hand, body-to-body, breath-to-breath. Social media is great for expanding your world, but for me true connection is up close and personal.

I believe your soul mate is a direct reflection of your self-love.

A pet’s love is pure and fills the spaces.

There’s power in Community – the gathering of kindred souls is the key to collectively raising the consciousness of this planet. It's the We that matters. 

I believe in real friendship where you have bad days and your true friends stick by you. I need my girlfriends and my sister on a daily basis!

Use your voice and stay in your light and you and your people with find each other.

Compromise, kindness, tolerance, steadfastness, communication and compassion are key ingredients in relationships.

Being loved and loving is the greatest feeling in the universe.

Born to Be (this is my Born to Run)

A woman is most powerful in her femininity.

A man’s vulnerability is a beautiful and powerful thing.

There’s nothing sexier than a man or woman in their element.

Embrace quietude and self-care – It’s everything: sleep, meditate, pray, journal, sweat and move the body.

I believe I’m at my best in quietude. I’m at my second best surrounded by people I love. A close third is when I'm on a deadline.

Being authentic is all about living, speaking and honoring your truth.

I’m learning to not sugarcoat the truth anymore and that I’m not responsible for how it lands or is perceived, only in how I present it.

To live full out you need to be full in – commitment to each moment builds to a rich and full life.

Be amazing, be true, be transparent, be real, be kind, be bold, be mindful, be wise. 

Be love. Be happy.

I also share my birthday with my Mom. So, I asked her to contribute a few of her own. Her voice is a powerful and loving one in my ether, fiber and being. 

"It’s not worth stewing over the small stuff. Pick your battles.

As I grow older, triggers don't trigger anymore. Acceptance is easier because I understand more.

Consideration for the other person is the most important thing. When they're happy you're happy.

Your dad and I compliment one another, in role, action and word. It’s the secret of a long-lasting marriage (57 years and counting).

And, whoever wins at Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune gets a foot rub." ~ Mom

Thanks, Mom, and Happy Birthday, Tramps like us, baby we were born to be amazing!

 

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Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com

 

 


Indecision is the Enemy of Spontaneity

By Cindy Yantis

Some thoughts, and perhaps thought changers, on one my least favorite places to be: Indecision.

  • Indecision is the enemy of spontaneity.
  • Indecision is the enemy of the artist.
  • Indecision is the downfall of the parent.
  • Indecision is the downfall of fruition.
  • Indecision is a self-imposed prison.
  • Indecision is the enemy of invention.

SpontaneityIn fact, indecision cripples invention.  It cripples marriage proposals, cripples IPO’s, cripples education, cripples war. And, peace.

The very nature of indecisiveness stunts the very nature.

Where would we be if Mother Nature couldn’t make up her mind? Would an apple tree become a river? Would an ant be dissatisfied with being an ant? Would an albatross wish it were a hummingbird? Would a sunflower decide to stay in bed? If Mother Nature waffled and just couldn’t make the definitive decision that everything in nature has its predetermined role to play, where would we be?

Where would we be if we always straddled the fence between yes and no?

Where would we be if we couldn’t decide between this and that? Up or down? In or out? Now or later?

Where would we be if a life or death decision was impossible to make? Dead?

Is that when we cease to be?

Free will is the mother of indecision. Without free will there’s no decision to make. Whatever is, is.

But here's the good news: free will is what gives us choice.

  • Choice is the decision.
  • Choice is the power to attract the life we want.
  • Choice is the power to transform.
  • Choice is awareness and being in the now.
  • Choice is freedom.
  • Choice is a friend of spontaneity.
  • Choice is a friend to the artist.
  • Choice is the peace of mind of the parent.
  • Choice nurtures fruition.
  • Choice is the lover of invention.

 Choice doesn’t have to be forever. It’s just right now. It gets us out of the vast and chaotic place called indecision.

Choice kicks indecision’s ass.

Choice is the thing. Just make one.

 

 

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Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com


5 Ways to Be Efficiently Creative

I often a word card to focus my daily journaling, and many times that then leads to a blog post. The word recently was Efficiency. So apropos, particularly lately as I find myself sometimes scattered in my writing commitments.

Efficiency: to be efficient, to work tidily, concise, linear. Okay, there was probably a divine hand intervening as I chose a card this day!

As a creative, Winding staircaseliving in her right brain world, I often ponder the notion of efficiency. It can be a challenge in there, inside my right brain dwelling.

Some rooms, if you will, are more colorful, whimsical and intricately imagined than the one before it. And, then many of the rooms are partially furnished, need paint on the walls and proper lighting. Some are dimly lit, or even completely dark.

Sometimes the right brain is like Hearst's Castle - winding staircases that lead to staircases on the way to secret passageways full of bubbling ideas and stories dying to be told.

 

So how to bring efficiency in that place that wants to stay wild and free from constriction?

File Jul 19, 5 40 07 PM

Create a system. To be efficient is to complete the work within a system that flows. I've been successful by breaking projects into segments and managing my time accordingly within the time allotted to each segment. I set my timer for 28 minutes, and then when the buzzer rings I give myself permission to set another 28 minutes on that project or move on to another one for 28 minutes. I like 28 minutes for many reasons, one them being the number 28 in numerology equals both 1 and 10, symbolically meaning the beginning and the end, which gives me a perfect time capsule. 

  1. Honor the gestation period but don't get lost there. The gestation period before birthing a project is my favorite part - the creation, nurturing the characters as they come to live, researching and building the world. Watching each phase develop like an expectant mother.
  2. Be consistent. Chip away at it every day. 
  3. Organize and prioritize.  Write down all your pending projects. Determine how much time you need for each task/project and get the small ones out of the way first. Then, check them off the list.
  4. Track your progress. It feels great to take a few moments at the end of each day or week and look at what you've accomplished. Just focus on that rather than what you haven't completed yet. There's plenty of time for that again tomorrow morning when you plan your work and then work your plan. Again. 
  5. Ask for help where you're lacking. If you get bogged down in the research phase, or keeping the books on your business, or cleaning your house, and those are what keep you from completing your projects, then ask for help in those areas. The minimal investment is worth it. 

And, have fun with the notion of efficiency! Experiment and try on new ways of completion. But, it's a gentle dance. Never let it get in the way of your joy of creation. 

 

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Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com


The First and Last Word

By Cindy Yantis

"In Love With Words"

That's the title I gave one of my Pinterest categories.  I'm a bit late in the game on Pinterest, but I've become slightly obsessed.  It's one of the most creative time sucks ever invented!

My love affair with words only intensifies with each passing day.  As a writer, the hunt for the perfect word is a mind-bending expedition that can end in a second or can become a witch-hunt for that elusive term or turn-of-phrase or line of dialog. 

While procrastinating last night, which is really another way of saying my brain was germinating on the right words to put on paper, I went on the cool wordart site, Wordl, where you can create word clouds.  I plugged in some words from this blog site to create a Thought Changer Cloud. It came out looking like this:

Wordle: Thought Changer Cloud

Bravo.  

Word. 

It reminded me of an article I posted over two years ago about the infinite and palpable power of words and the responsibility that comes along with our ability to use them to their greatest effect.  Here some of that message is again.  It's worth a reminder. 

Words can maim someone’s spirit, inspire people into action, teach a life lesson, increase the value of a person, place or thing, encourage, discourage, make people laugh, cry or pause, fire people, hire people or make someone’s day.   

Here are some thoughts on how you can use your words more effectively:  

  • Be impeccable with your word – the first of the “The Four Agreements” written by Don Miguel Ruiz who said, “Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  Use the power of your word to the direction of truth…”
  • Don’t project your issues on others – own your own crap by not using hurtful words to make your problems someone else’s
  • Ask questions – show an interest by being honestly inquisitive in people and situations
  • Remember and use people’s names – it’s a simple recognition that raises the level of connection between you and others
  • Communicate, don’t alienate – kind directness gets much greater result than spite
  • Think before you speak – take a pause and realize the effect your words may have

"The trouble with talking too fast is you may say something you haven't thought of yet." ~ Ann Landers

Fall in love with a word today.  Get "A Word A Day" from Wordsmith.org.  Interesting words to expand your world... and your vocabulary!

Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog owner & curator.  She is a writer living in Los Angeles.  For more info: CindyYantis.com

Please visit and "Like" our Facebook Page: Facebook.com/ThoughtChanger  Join in the ongoing discussion...


The Beat Goes On - So What Comes Next?

By Cindy Yantis

I was lost in the abyss.  At least the abyss also known as the Second Act.  I’m in the midst of drafting a screenplay that I was commissioned to write and my deadline is quickly approaching.  Before starting the script I wrote a loose outline so that I know the major plot points and how the movie ends, but filling it in with interesting scenes that drive a compelling story is where I was stuck.  I had all of these fragments floating around in my head as to what came next but they became so convoluted that it was causing inertia, which is exactly the opposite of what needed to happen with a looming deadline and a very patient producer waiting for a delivered, that being, an exceptionally delivered, finished script. I needed a more detailed guideline than the loose outline, something to help me sort out what comes next, kind of like a GPS to get me back to where I want to go. I needed a beat sheet.

According to Screenwriting Consultant Extraordinaire Pilar Alessandra of On The Page, “a beat sheet helps you organize seemingly random scenes into one 'beat' of story.  GrCoffeeBreakScreenwriteroup those beats together and a bigger 'movie' emerges.”  She says when the “beats line up, actually making some kind of sense, they tell one story.”   Pilar shared with me her smart “Eight Beat Feature Structure” and I plugged my seemingly mess of a project into it and… Voila, I’m back on track!

It got me thinking about how often the same thing can happen in life.  We can be floating along with maybe a loose idea of where we’re heading on a project, or a career path, or a health plan.  And, then we hit a roadblock or are faced with a myriad of options for our next step, or maybe we’re just in a rut of daily routine that starts to suffocate our thoughts and actions.  What do we do next? How do we get moving in the right direction or get out of the rut?  Sound familiar?

Next time you’re faced with this kind of stalemate, stale moment or abyss of the mind, perhaps take some time and create your own beat sheet, or GPS, for the project, a career move, or yearend goal.

  • Write down your End Goal – what’s the end result you’re after
  • Break that down further into Time Beats – give yourself mini-goals to hit on the way to your end goal
  • Give each time beat a Theme or a Name – if it’s a 6-month goal, give each time frame beat its own identity, such as First Steps, Action, Mid-point Success, Renewed Strategy, Overcoming Final Obstacles, Final Push & Accomplishment.
  • Build in anticipated conflict/obstacles – being prepared for what can come up is not only smart, but can be fun too.  Then, when you see it coming you can head it off at the pass.

Pilar also says that “sometimes we group the events in our lives this way. We refer to 'the wedding' or 'the move' or 'the accident.' String these together and you’ll see the timeline of your life.”

The-beat-goes-onThe same can be said for the mini-beats you actively create in your life.  When you’re in the abyss and not sure what to do next, get with the beat!

 

 

Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog owner & curator.  She is a writer living in Los Angeles.  For more info: CindyYantis.com

Please visit and "Like" our Facebook Page: Facebook.com/ThoughtChanger  Join in the ongoing discussion...