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planning & productivity

creativity intuition planning & productivity

Movement, stillness and navigating challenging times

April 18, 2017

movement

When navigating challenging times, movement can help you find stillness and new ways to manage change and negotiate uncertainty.

Leaning into movement

The idea of keeping in movement as a way of managing change came to me about a year ago at the beginning of this time of transition. I sought advice via a tarot reading from Marianne at Two Sides Tarot. At the end of an insightful reading around managing change and uncertainty, the oracle card ‘Movement’ from the Vessel oracle deck by Mary Elizabeth Evans arrived, dancing its dynamic way into my consciousness.

Here is this beautiful card, courtesy of @twosidestarot on Instagram:


And the message in my reading: the best way to manage all this change, these Wheel of Fortune times, was to keep moving:

Strength and solace can be found in getting moving – both by moving your body, changing up your self-care practices, and embracing this process. The change itself, although not always easy, will be such a source of healing and fulfilment!

I was reminded not only to move but to make changes in self-care and movement routines – do new things, do things differently, mix it up. To soak in the ocean instead of the bath for example. To just keep moving and make subtle shifts as a way of managing uncertainty and leaning into it.

As Marianne reminded me via my tarot reading:

Making a few little moves in this area of your life will let you keep yourself grounded and full, while gently stretching your boundaries and exposing you to new experiences.

Moving to manage uncertain times

The message came to me again recently through guides in an Activate session with Amber Adrian. I’m feeling stuck, for a number of reasons but ironically with so many thoughts and plans. Words and ideas come and flow through me. I try to capture them and still them into an order I can understand and work with.

But there’s so many ideas on my desk and in my mind. It feels so Seven of Cups and so Ten of Wands with this card from The Art of Life Tarot summing up my inner and outer world right now.

ten of

There’s so much magic there but it won’t come to much if I can’t work with it practically. So it comes down to a kind of patience and fortitude right now.

I ask how to have that patience to wait intuitively for the inspiration of spirit instead of trying to force things. I want to know how to be able to read the signs and symbols and have the strength to integrate this time wisely into the vision I can see and feel. Again, the advice via Amber and our guides in the session is to just keep moving: “Keep going, keep moving through it, keep showing up for yourself and others, keep taking care of yourself in all this. It will get easier. Keep using everything, every tool you have.”

Ways to keep moving

And funnily enough lately I have been moving. You see, I’m training to be a life coach and I’m moving ahead with that course, and I’m now more than half way through. As part of my Beautiful You Coaching Academy life-coach training, we practise coaching and also undertake coaching ourselves. One of my key goals has been around self-care at a time of transition and challenge, especially around being stronger and fitter.

So I’ve been moving much more than I have for a long time. And I’m finding that movement is a metaphor for and tool to negotiate these times. I find that yoga, walking, swimming and feeling the body move can help move you forward in many ways: the rhythm of your legs. walking; the syncopation of your arms beating the water; the timing of your breath moving in, moving out.

Chi, flow, blood, breath, steps into the air, into the light, through the day like honey, like the flow of words on a page.

Streets of my village I meander, paths of sand and rock in the bush I step through, my feet sinking into sand at the edge of the water as I flex and pressure onwards. Yoga postures I move through – still, breathing easy, dynamic, active, my body moves through them, pushing boundaries. My mind stills and comes with it.

Moving through different terrain

I’m searching for different walks in new terrain. I’m exploring new places as I step out, finding freshwater pools with waterfalls and tracks with different vistas in my beautiful backyard.

The yoga classes I go to stretch me in different ways and I learn new names for familiar poses. I’m moving differently and there’s the yin of slow held poses that stretch me hard along my muscles. And there’s the yang of vinyasa flow that has me warm and energised as my limbs move. There’s balance and stillness. I sleep so well at night afterwards.

I’ve started swimming in the ocean with a local group here where I live. The beauty of the underwater world astounds me and I swim with schools of fish and sometimes feel like a fish. My arms stroke the water and I breathe in and out like the beat of a drum.

I don’t usually like to swim out of my depth but I am there, past the shallow water, circling the edges of the reef with fish beneath me and feeling relaxed. I’m embracing change and newness with a sense of wonder, seeing things differently.

My swim-mask fogs up early on and I need to learn how to stop that which I do. Sometimes I don’t swim straight as I am not used to ocean swimming. “You were all over the place,” says one of my swim chums. It’s true but at least I am out there, zig-zagging across the water and learning how to swim straighter next time. And when we chat about it over coffee later, I find many of my fellow swimmers also zigzag or have dealt with it and I am not alone. We share strategies for navigating the way into straighter paths.

It seems there are many benefits of moving with others as we track our separate paths together, learning from each other but going our own way forward to our unique destination.

The medicine of movement

So I encourage you to seek solace in the medicine of movement: take a walk in the silence of your garden, take a swim in the salt water of your heart, breathe through the yoga moves of your transition.

Balance those paradoxes: stillness and hurry, quiet and busy, calm and worry, slowness and the sheer act of getting on with it regardless of the speed. Yin and yang with it all and the moon, and realise that even resting can be an integral part of movement.

Breathe like waves as you move, negotiate the uncertain nature of the time, its alchemy threading through each word and act unknowing. It’s weaving a song you vaguely recognise. If you listen carefully, you might find that in the singing of birds or the waving of seaweed you are gently shown a sign that says, “This way.”

You pick up a shell and see the spiral of your life moving stealthily on, trusting that nature can take its perfect course, without you needing to tell it how.

You pick a card and it’s the Two of Wands reminding you that:

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.

two

From The Art of Life Tarot deck by Charlene Livingstone

So you jump into the water of your thoughts, you swim through the barriers of your mind and you stretch through the tightness of your joy.

You’re not staying where you are – you know that. And you trust the intuitive action of movement to take you where you know in your heart you need to be.

In movement, stillness.
In stillness, movement.

infinity

Thought pieces

For a rich and beautiful read about movement, yin/yang and flourishing with cycles of the moon, you might enjoy the new book, An Abundant Life by Dr Ezzie Spencer. There’s also a fabulous podcast with Ezzie over at the Secret Library Podcast with Caroline Donahue aka The Book Doctor.

Keep in touch

Quiet Writing is on Facebook – Please visit here and ‘Liketo keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on books, tarot, intuition, influence, passion, creativity, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top and below) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017. This includes tarot, MBTI developments, coaching and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world. New special offers coming soon including a limited number of pro-bono coaching opportunities.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

Healing with words of gold: The Empress, Kintsugi and alchemy

Overwhelm, intuition and thinking

Practical tools to increase writing productivity

blogging creativity planning & productivity

Practical tools to increase writing productivity

January 30, 2017

writing productivity

Getting organised to write and create

Writing productivity techniques are the best practical strategies for directing creative overwhelm into output. This post explores some options including Scrivener, the Pomodoro technique and other tools for breaking through.

It follows on from a previous post, Overwhelm, Intuition and Thinking on creative overwhelm and initial strategies to turn inspiration into action, especially for intuitive types. This post focuses on the practical, doable tasks to make organised creative work happen in an environment of self-care.

Scrivener – the writer’s friend

First up, and the centrepiece of a writer’s toolkit, is the Scrivener software writing program. Scrivener is a content-generation tool for writers that combines writing and project management. Being project-based, you can have multiple writing projects on the go. This means you can be gathering research information, capturing ideas, drafting and revising your work all in the one application across multiple projects. It’s especially good for managing long-form work such as novels or non-fiction work, both in the production and the preparation stages for publication.

No wonder it’s so popular! Designed by writers for writers, it’s fabulous for all aspects of writing: researching, drafting, revising, editing and publishing. It’s a writing tool used by many bloggers and authors, notably two of my key influencers Joanna Penn and Susannah Conway, as well as many other successful creatives for whom writing is a key focus.

Scrivener has long been high on my list for getting organised with my writing. I purchased the Scrivener program a couple of years ago along with the Learn Scrivener Fast program which provides a great introduction to how to work with Scrivener. I went through many of the well-structured lessons but being busy with work and not applying it directly, I had forgotten it all over time.

So recently, I went back to relearn. I’ve found it’s best to work through the Learn Scrivener Fast lessons and apply the learning straight away, organising your projects as you go. After a solid effort, I’m using Scrivener as planned including while writing this post. It’s been quite easy to set up various projects and get moving, learning the finer points as I go.

The key writing projects I have set up include:

  • blog posts
  • articles
  • poetry
  • tarot study and readings
  • various larger works such as novel ideas and non-fiction works

As I said in the last post, I have no shortage of creative inspiration at present! Scrivener makes it easy to have these multiple project pieces where I can add research information and write wherever I wish to focus on any particular day. This process reflects what I have been doing on paper but is oh so better organised and easier to work with. Plus you feel like you are making real progress which is encouraging.

Further reading and viewing on Scrivener:

This article, ‘8 Ways Scrivener will help you become a proficient writer overnight’ by Joseph Michael, creator of ‘Learn Scrivener Fast’, is an excellent overview of the benefits of Scrivener.

Writing Tips from Joanna Penn is really valuable viewing on all aspects of writing fiction and non-fiction books and focuses on the practical use of Scrivener.

Scrivener project

The Pomodoro Technique

I was lucky enough to win some coaching sessions with the fabulous Rae Ritchie late last year. I won’t go into all the confidential aspects of our first wonderful conversation recently. However, one thing we touched on was the Pomodoro Technique as a way of working in more concentrated bursts to get writing done.

This conversation sparked something I was aware of but had not acted on. So this week, I applied the Pomodoro technique to my writing and learning activities. I downloaded a fantastic app called the Tide Focus Timer to help manage the ‘pomodoro’ times and worked with the approach. The app is great as it has different options for background music and sounds to help you concentrate.

Pomodoro helps you focus and is a really valuable self-care aid when writing and sitting for long periods. The technique and app remind you to get up after the 25 minute ‘pomodoro’ period to move and stretch.

It’s interesting that the Pomodoro Technique has popped up for me on two podcast conversations in the last few months in relation to self-care:

  • In an excellent Creative Penn podcast interview, Joanna Penn talks with Ellen Bard on ‘Self Care and Productivity for Authors’. This wide-ranging discussion includes tips on morning pages and the Pomodoro Technique as well as encouraging an attitude of self-compassion as we create.
  • In a recent Secret Library podcast, Caroline Donahue interviews Amy Kuretsky about being a healthy writer. The discussion emphasises self-care as being more than just care of the body. The Pomodoro Technique is one of a number of practical tips recommended for writers in honouring our body, mind and spirit in the process of creativity.

My experiences this week have shown me that I can gain much from working with this technique, both in terms of output and feeling better whilst writing.

Productive Flourishing – productivity tools

Another area that is critical for writing productivity is scheduling, prioritising and capturing any ideas and actions that come to us. I recommend Charlie Gilkey’s Productive Flourishing Planners to help with this.

There are various planners and tools including Momentum Planners (monthly weekly, daily) and Blog Post Planners. One of my favourites is the Action Item Catcher which is a single sheet to capture thoughts that arise or actions from meetings. It helps to corral these to-do items and stops the distraction of moving away from focused activities like writing. It can be combined with the Pomodoro Technique to capture things that pop up as you concentrate on the priority work at hand.

I hope these practical ideas are useful to help concentrate your writing effort where it can be most effective – that is, getting the words and ideas on the page and out into the world!

I would love to hear about any productivity tools and experiences you might have found useful. Please share in the comments below or on the Quiet Writing Facebook page.

Keep in touch

Quiet Writing is now on Facebook so please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on creativity, productivity, writing, voice, intuition, introversion, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), tarot and yes, passion!

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top and below) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017 – including MBTI developments and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

intuition planning & productivity

Overwhelm, intuition and thinking

January 27, 2017

thinking and intuition

You can get overwhelmed when the intuition is firing and there’s an abundance of creative inspiration. Whilst it’s a good problem to have, without balance it can lead to inaction. Here are some thoughts on how to manage this.

As an INTJ Myers-Briggs Type Indicator type, Introverted Intuition and Extraverted Thinking preferences play out to a large extent in my life. They are my dominant and auxiliary preferences respectively. There’s a frequent tussle going on between intuition and thinking over which takes the lead role at any particular point.

Being the dominant one, intuition often leads, coming from an interior and quiet place. It’s an inner voice or a flash of insight, a mystery I don’t fully understand and possibly never can. It’s taken me a while to begin to understand this part of me even though it’s the preeminent piece.

Thinking then is not far behind, connecting the ideas that come from intuitive inspiration, shaping them into an argument or a project, a strategic plan or a blog post. It links symbols in poetry more overtly or plays the role of editor, cutting back, refining and polishing.

When our intuition is switched on and we learn to tune into it more, suddenly so much comes in. That big picture becomes huge and threatens to overwhelm. Our to-do lists that involve crafting that inspiration further become enormous. It feels like all that creativity is going nowhere, just spinning round and round our head.

The Seven of Cups tarot card from the The Fountain Tarot recently captured this for me so well.
7 of cups

So many ideas, so many options, so many projects, so many plans. I can relate to the look on the woman’s face. The first time I drew this card, on a day of particular overwhelm, I laughed out loud. It just captures the feeling so perfectly, a state of being stunned into inaction by the options.

And the upshot of all this? Nothing much gets done except a lot of brainstorming, scribbled notes of potential and words of promise. We need to learn how to bring the intuition and thinking functions together to ground ourselves more into action in the external world.

Coalescing intuition and thinking

So if your interior world is running hot and your to-do lists are longer than your arm, here are some suggested strategies based on my experiences to focus energy and attention into action.

1 Practise rest and self-care

Ironically, I am finding that rest and self-care is fundamental to coalescing intuition and thinking to get action happening. Self-care is fundamental to all things, but it’s a special consideration here.  Like self-care in emergency situations so we can be of service, we need to ensure our buzzing intuition and sparking ideas don’t drive us into an energy tailspin where we are of no help to anyone. As Amber Adrian, intuitive and energy healer reminded me, “Put your own oxygen mask on first.” Wise advice.

And lo and behold, when we do rest and practice nourishing ourselves, the well-springs fill and the right ideas burst forth. Suddenly we know the answer or the next best thing to do.

2 Capture ideas and work in bite-size chunks

One of the big issues with creative overwhelm is that it’s all so exciting. We can feast on that emotion and not much else happens. I’m working to focus on specific aspects of projects within the time available each day. My Write Your Own Adventure planner, with its open and spacious approach, is helping to make every day a creative step in the journey. It’s easy to document progress and it’s showing me where my energy is going and where it’s dissipating.

I’m also working on breaking things up more: time into chunks and words into achievable targets. I’m starting to work with Scrivener  more to shape writing drafts and manage inputs. I’m using tools to capture ideas and connections so I don’t lose them. I’ve been a long time user of Evernote for gathering ideas, references and images and tagging them to bring together later.

I’m exploring time management and productivity techniques like the Pomodoro technique. Linked to self-care, it’s all about short bursts and writing sprints plus getting up, walking and keeping refreshed instead of sitting for hours. This is something I need now.

In a Secret Library podcast interview with Caroline Donahue, Scott Carney explains his formula for getting writing done which combines these techniques. He explains how he uses Scrivener and writes 500 words a day, 5 days a week and that over eight months, this ends up the length of a book manuscript. Or it could be a lot of blog posts. Either way it’s a great practical way to focus effort into chunks and get the writing done.

3 Realise the benefits of strategy

Sometimes a combination of intuition and intellect can lead to ‘analysis paralysis’ and over-thinking, especially when combined with introversion.

At our best, however, we can bring these three orientations together to create visionary plans, then work out the logical steps and goals to get there. We can identify the measures that help us achieve the plan and we can define what success looks like. And we can leave room for the unexpected.

Strategy is elegant clear thinking, being confident and assembling what we have logically. As Colette Baron-Reid says in relation to the ‘Thinker’ card from the ‘Wisdom of the Oracle‘ deck, when strategy is calling…

Things are exactly what they seem. You have all the information you need. Keep it simple and you will win the game of life you’re playing now.

thinker

Joanna Penn is my role model in this respect. Her webinar on how to achieve your goals in 2017 is a valuable example of strategy development in creative spaces. Joanna’s achievements over time exemplify how to work with both intuition and strategic thinking goals to make excellent progress.

Like any journey, knowing the destination helps with managing the steps to get there and avoids the wasted time of going down wrong paths.

4 Keep showing up

The overwhelm of so many creative ideas can make us feel that we are not getting anywhere compared to our aspirations. Consequently, we get discouraged and do nothing or not as much as we had hoped.

So it’s important to keep showing up to write the words, get the blog posts published and focus on the inputs that will help manifest our vision.  It’s vital to keep learning the skills that will help us do the work of our heart. But it’s achieved little by little as we show up each step of the way to bring that effort to bear.

Sometimes it’s hard to see where it’s all leading as an intuitive creative. But just ‘doing the work’ in line with our vision and plan is the way to take it forward.

Steven Pressfield is the best person to read about showing up and doing the work. His work has clearly shown us that the ‘not sitting down to write’ is resistance and ultimately, fear. We need to break the impasse and show up to find the intuitive mystery of the words as they unfold. In Turning Pro, Steven reminds us:

That place that we write from (or paint from or compose from or innovate from) is far deeper than our petty personal egos. That place is beyond intellect. It is deeper than rational thought.

It is instinct.

It is intuition.

It is imagination.

So the plan, the strategy, the structure, the formula are all valuable, but the heart of the work and the journey is at that space where the pen hits the page or the fingers hit the keyboard. It’s when the instinct, imagination and intuition find form.

And we only make that journey by showing up and writing, unfolding the mystery of our intuition, word by word.

Making the connection between head and heart

So my reflections on this have led me to realise that intuition leads the way, being the inspiration and destination. The intellect is there too but its role is to shape the map, plan the timeframes, create the doable list or corral the effort into something manageable. It has its place and its ultimately about keeping things simple and on track, not over complicating.

But the intuition, the active imagination comes first. It’s not so neat and time-sensitive nor is it predictable, but it’s the heart of the effort, the raison d’etre.

We need both. Without intuition, we wouldn’t have the creative imagination to start with. Without thinking, the inspiration wouldn’t see the light of day in a practical way.

In comes the Queen of Swords

I left this piece open-ended overnight as I thought how best to finish it. And in the night, the Queen of Swords came like a flash, her sword glinting in the darkness.

Queen of Swords

And this brought all the pieces together. You see, the Queen of Swords has been my poster girl for a while. She sits at the front of my Softly Wild  journal, guiding this piece of my life, where it says: “I dedicate this notebook to making the connection between head and heart.” I am on the last page of that book now.

And only yesterday as I work through Susannah Conway’s fabulous 78 Mirrors course, I discovered that the Queen of Swords can be seen as the court card for the INTJ type. Cutting through, clarity of thought and commitment are her specialty. I’ve recently completed my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification so this link holds special meaning as I seek to take this work into the world.

So in the end I find that I have the answers within me. That intuition is the heart and conduit to feeling. Thinking is the sword to cut through to the essence and bring it to light for me and others. It’s time to finally commit and do the work, given that I already know the strategies to get there.

I hope the spirit of the Queen of Swords and these ideas can give you the courage to face the overwhelm and get on with your work in the world too. Because we so need to see its refined shining light.

This piece is written for #IntuitiveFriday – you can find more about this initiative celebrating intuition here.

Keep in touch

Quiet Writing is now on Facebook so please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on creativity, productivity, writing, voice, intuition, introversion, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), tarot and yes, passion!

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top and below) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017 – including MBTI developments and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

Featured image from Shutterstock via Pixabay and used with thanks.

Queen of Swords image is from the Sakki Sakki Tarot deck.

creativity planning & productivity

Planning for a productive 2017

December 27, 2016

planning productive 2017

2016 and the Six of Swords

Like many people, I’m reflecting on 2016 and planning for a more productive year in 2017.

This year has not been the easiest of years. It’s been something of a threshold year, a year of transition as the Six of Swords has continued to pop its head up to remind me. There’s been a series of shocks, wake up calls and disappointments. There’s also been some very proud moments and shining lights pointing the way ahead. And recent times have been full of quiet intuitive work that is laying deep foundations for a different future.

The Six of Swords image of traversing water with a whole bunch of cargo in tow speaks volumes. As Monicka Clio Sakki explains in Playing with Symbols:

The Six of Swords can also mean that you will go through a period of evaluating your past, putting aside any stress, anger, resentment and pain you may have experienced. You will come to realize that because of those painful experiences you can now advance. Gather what is most important to you, and make the choice to flow into the passage that is now in front of you. The wind is in your favour, and original thinking will take you far.

six of swords

A different future

The phrase ‘a different future’ keeps coming to mind suggesting that I need to make change to get the outcomes I am seeking. For too long, I keep doing the same thing and expecting that things will change. It’s clear that the work needs to start from deep within. Another card that keeps stopping by is the beautiful Sacred Pool from The Enchanted Map deck. It seems to often arrive reversed, in what Colette Baron-Reid calls ‘the protection position’, reminding me:

Dimming your light serves no one. Turning away from the truth that is reflected in the stillness of the Sacred Pool keeps you in denial, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

sacred pool

There’s no denying there’s been a sameness to my goals year after year for a while now. However 2016 has been a year of finally breaking through and beginning the crossing that is taking me to a different place. This heralds an exciting year in 2017 where real change takes place and that original thinking bears fruit.

Planning for a productive 2017

I’ve been preparing for a while now but the next period into early January offer a perfect opportunity to reflect on 2016 and to plan for 2017. Mercury Retrograde currently also favours this period of reflection. I’m keen to learn from the past to create this different future, gathering together the critical pieces to take forward. The spirit of Quiet Writing and its various aspects of writing, introvert strengths, process, connection and intuition is the heartbeat of the future. It is the summary of my passions and Core Desired Feelings I wish to share from my corner of the world to yours:

creative, intuitive, flowing, poetic and connected

My ways of planning a productive 2017 will focus on 4 key interlinked tools and strategies:

1 Reflecting on 2016 learnings and mapping the landscape for 2017

There’s great power in reviewing the learnings from the past and working out what to take forward. We can easily forget some key happenings and focus on the negatives. We need to step back and look at what we have learnt over the experience of the whole year, not just more recent events. Taking a special day or a few hours to dive deep, reflect and consider future plans is exceptionally valuable as we transit the line between years.

I highly recommend Unravel your Year 2017, a free annual workbook, developed by Susannah Conway that guides you through reflections on 2016 and planning for 2017. This will be my fourth year of working through this process. So it will be great to see where I have made progress and where I am setting the same goals over time and not getting anywhere (cf above Sacred Pool). Time for some breakthroughs this year I believe.

planning

2 Setting a Word for the Year

There’s also positive and quite enigmatic energy to be drawn from setting a ‘Word for the Year’. Again, this will be my fourth year in finding a word that acts as an intention for the year’s focus. This year’s word was WRITE and here I am writing now and focusing on writing, my life’s passion, as a central tenet of the way forward.

I’m still reflecting on my word for 2017 though I have an inkling of what it might be – more on that and reflections of my previous words’ impacts in a future post. Finding a guiding word for 2017 is covered in part in the above workbook. I also recommend Find Your Word for 2017 – also developed by Susannah Conway – as a way to work through this. It comes via a free 5 day email class you can do at your own pace with excellent resources. There’s also a private Facebook group where you can connect with others working through their word-finding processes. There’s fabulous energy engaging with others on their word journeys.

3 Seeking a Goddess to guide you in 2017

Having a goddess to guide you through the year is also a powerful experience. Amy Palko is offering 2017 My Word Goddess Readings for the 6th year running. This is the second year I’ve chosen to work intuitively with an accompanying goddess. My first year has been full of insights and connections to word of the year and overall planning around theme and intention.

Amy creates the goddess readings through a special intuitive reading also helping to choose possible words as a touchstone for the year.  The goddess guiding me in 2016 has been the Lady of Beasts with a focus on what I want to nurture in my life. Creativity, writing, introvert strengths – these have all risen to the fore as productive areas to invest time and energy. This is all in line with my word of the year and plans.

My guiding goddess for 2017 is Pele – Goddess of Irrepressible Passion and Hawaiian volcano goddess of fire, so watch out! I’ll be looking for a bit more fire, energy and action in 2017 and my word of the year and plans will reflect this. I’ll be excited to dive into this exploration and reflection in more detail in the coming days. Amy’s goddess readings are available until January 31st (Cost 25 GBP) at the above link.

4 Intuitive Tarot and Oracle work

And there will definitely be some intuitive tarot and oracle work over the next days to usher in the new year as positively and wisely as possible! The Ace of Wands has been making striking appearances already, echoing that sense of beginnings, initiation, ignition and creation.

The next posts will feature reflections on 2016, plans for 2017, my word of the year and goddess and oracle/tarot work as it unfolds and how it all fits together into an exciting and productive year ahead for Quiet Writing. And of course there’s a year-long journey of opportunity ahead to weave word, spirit and intention together.

Would love to hear about any special ways you are reflecting on 2016 and planning for 2017 or any plans you already have underway! Do share your thoughts in the comments.

Thought pieces

The labyrinth symbol: I was drawn to this labyrinth symbol, chosen at random from a page of planning images. I’ve always loved a labyrinth symbol but it was great to cross check to find that it is the perfect image for this planning journey:

A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. It represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. (from Crystallinks.com)

This spiralling into our centre and then channelling this light forward into our work in the world in new ways is the essence of planning. I like that it is ‘a meandering and purposeful path’ not necessarily a straight line.

Labyrinth photo via rzwo via Visual Hunt

start up

 

creativity planning & productivity

Creativity and flow

January 11, 2015

Onsen

FLOW: ‘Being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in an interview with Wired: ‘Go with the Flow’

My word for 2015 is ‘flow’. When thinking about my word and focus for 2015, I knew it had to be something to do with creativity, writing, poetry and actually producing more tangible results.

When I reflected and searched for what would make this creativity happen, it kept coming back to flow as the essential active ingredient.

At first, the word came intuitively; then I sat down to reflect and test it further. I started with a mind-map and all sorts of connections arose:

  • flow of writing – ink, words on a page, lines
  • flow of ideas – associations, imagery, symbols, poetry
  • flow of energy – water, breath, blood, tides, oceans, yoga, chi, chakras
  • sacred flow – mandalas, Jung, archetypes, sacred geometry, alchemy
  • shapes and movement – flow of a dress, narrative, stanzas, brushstrokes, dancing
  • productivity – mind-maps, flow charts

Exploring with Pinterest I found more connections and associations, many tapping into special experiences and key symbols, like all was gathering around this word as a focal point for now and into the future picking up on the energy of the past.

So what’s flow all about really?

It’s about capturing the creative moment, being in the energy of it and enacting this.

It’s what you see, what you notice on a walk, looking up and around you. It’s what you pick up from the beach, it’s what you find on the bed of the sea-shore as you dive beneath the shallow waves.

8 shell 2

It’s shells, rocks, birds, trees, the sound of cicadas in the background, aboriginal carvings, ancient landscapes, your feet in the sand, your skin in the water.

It’s what you choose to capture in a photograph or in a series of ink marks on a page. It’s what you select or craft to share with the world in various ways like social media, blogging or publishing

It’s what comes to you – symbols, associations, ideas – what you notice and connect, and the process and product of what you do with what comes.

It’s the energy kindled inside of you and the creative parts of you sparking again. It’s the promise of engagement with a wider flow of chakras, shakti, chi, oracles and your place in the energy of the world.

It’s knowing that the steps to get there are within reach, knowing that you have the know-how, that you recognise the pieces and components to connect and focus on from the sequence of days and years you’ve already traversed and invested your time and energy in. You know you’ve just got to harness this in a productive way and find the flame to ignite it all.

As Danielle LaPorte says in What it really means to go with the flow

Going with the flow isn’t about being passive or lazy. It’s not about just letting things happen “to you”. It’s not aimless wandering. It’s a co-creative act.

“The flow” is the ocean of cosmic intelligence. It’s the substance that carries the whole shebang. The flow is life energy itself.

Going with the flow is responding to cues from the universe. When you go with the flow, you’re surfing Life force. It’s about wakeful trust and total collaboration with what’s showing up for you.”

It looks like an exciting journey with my word of the year in 2015. I know others have also chosen ‘flow’ as their word for the year and I look forward to sharing the journey with these special fellow travellers.

What words are showing up for you for this year and what are they suggesting? Would love to hear!

2015 planning

 

blogging planning & productivity

Setting the scene

January 26, 2013

setting the scene

There’s been a certain amount of scene setting for 2013 going on here at present. I’ve moved my roll-top desk, the centre of my creative universe, from the back of the room where for some reason I had my back to the window and trees. It’s now closer to the window where I can see the trees and feel a cool afternoon breeze wafting in. My room is less cluttered, still busy and full of books and papers, but more organised so I can see and find things. It feels cooler, calmer and a more relaxed place to be.

Today is Australia Day and it’s a long weekend, so a wonderful time to breathe in and out, and work on the personal planning I need for 2013. Much has been rattling around my head and I’ve had the opportunity to read how others are working on their plans for this year. I  have especially loved reading about the 2013 approaches and plans of my Blogging from the Heart buddies, Victoria Smith and Liv White and so many others which have warmed and inspired my heart. Such different and wonderful approaches to thinking about this year; some more structured and others more free flowing and intuitive, and now it’s time to work though my own.

Key members of my Seven Stars virtual support team, nearly three years on, continue to be a huge influence. I will start with Chris Guillebeau’s annual review process which I have worked through for a number of years now; it’s good to have a process that is consistent to go back to and review over time. Susannah Conway is a wonderfully wise and gentle support in so many ways and her Unravelling the year ahead 2013 workbook will also be something I will work through.

In terms of participating in projects and e-courses this year, I have started off this year with blogging buddy, Flo Gascon’s ‘Time of your Life’ ecourse . It’s about refocusing so you realise the positives and ensure you are in fact having the time of your life and not some sub-standard version of what it might be. It’s the first week but already the thoughts that are being sown are powerful and I look forward to this renewal of perspective.

I’m also working through Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map multimedia guide. Again, I’m just getting my toe in the water but it’s already enabling some refocusing on what my core desires drive me to do and understanding this better. I loved working through ‘Style Statement‘ and the power that this gave me for bringing together aspects of my core values that I hadn’t previously connected. I’m looking forward to more of this and am in no rush; I will just take this one gently and deeply and as I can.

I’m also joining the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge again this year and will post soon on last year’s experience and what I hope to focus on this year. I absolutely love this challenge, the reading and writing experiences and the community it brings with it. I have learned so much more about a space that brings together three of my great loves: Australia, women and women’s issues, and writing. Linking with people who also share these loves has been a source of inspiration and learning.

So, lots of scene-setting, physical, mental and emotional, and I’m looking forward to sharing the evolving scenes here as they play out this year.

What scene setting are you doing for this year?

planning & productivity

Gems #15 Travelling Light

August 5, 2012

I’m reconnecting with my ‘Gems’ series with this post and I hope it becomes more than an occasional feature now as I settle back into more regular blogging.

Like many bloggers, I find it valuable to gather together and share inspiring links, visuals and reads. These are also some of my most enjoyable blog reads of the week as I see what others have discovered and are reading, and wander off into cyberspace following their tracks.

Some of my favourite inspirations are:

Corbae Cafe’s ‘This Week’s Enthusiasms’

Susannah Conway’s ‘Something for the weekend’

Tammy Strobel’s ‘Inspiring Links’

Most of the weekly round-ups I read tend to be whatever is inspiring or of interest; everyone has their unique flavour which I love. My ‘Gems’ have evolved to focus on a theme. I tend to find themes popping up and collecting together as I read the net and elsewhere through the week. My associative mind tends to group them and make connections and I have found this a useful way to write about them, bringing different threads together.

Here is a round-up of the previous ‘Gems’ posts and their focus:

Gems #14 Writing Poetry

Gems #13 Time to write

Gems #12 Planning and productivity

Gems #11 Managing complexity

Gems #10 On Creativity

Gems #9  Shining light on yourself

Gems #8 Blogging

Gems #7 On creativity and solitude

Gems #6 Encouragement, kindness and resilience

Gems #5 Facts, inspiration and story

Gems #4 Putting yourself out there

Gems #3 Untitled – the earlier ones are a bit less connected; this post features Chris Guillebeau’s great ‘Free Advice’ post, self-publishing and memoir writing

Gems #2 Untitled as above – Susannah Conway’s book announcement and Stephen Cummings’ lyric

Gems #1 Reading notes

The theme surrounding me at present is ‘Travelling Light’. This is about having less belongings, less clutter and moving about with less stuff generally in the world. It’s also about travelling a little lighter here in ‘Transcending’ from time to time and not feeling like every post has to be huge, crafted and heavy. There’s an opportunity to free things up with more visuals, less words, less structure and interspersing the more fully developed posts with lighter ones.

The reading that has influenced my thinking most this week has been ‘Go Small, Be Happy‘ by Tammy Strobel in the Huffington Post. This is such a beautifully written piece; as Victoria Smith says, Tammy’s ‘clear, clean writing is always such a breath of fresh air.’ Documenting the journey on simplifying her life, living in a mobile home, getting rid of many belongings and reducing debt, Tammy shows how all this change over time has made her more flexible, happy and able to focus more on the people in her life.

Susannah Conway has also written about the experiences of travelling light on her recent book tour in ‘ The carry-on experiment’, Susannah shares her experiences of the freedom of moving around more lightly and efficiently in her travels as well as some of the practicalities of this. Others also writing about lighter packing this week include Leo and Eva Babauta at zenhabits in16 essential trips for travelling with a family and Eva’s list: Travelling light for women.

I’m about to enter a period with a fair amount of travel and  moving around for work so will be reading more closely to see if I can make this time less hassled and more productive and streamlined. I have a lot to learn, I can tell you! Light packing is not a current strong point of mine.

Finally, I am thinking about how I can travel lighter here in my blogging. My tendency is towards intensive, crafted posts that are focused on my main love of writing. I will still keep the writing focus, but also keen to see how I can mix this up with lighter, more visual posts. I’ve signed up for ‘The August Break 2012‘ to help me do this. Fortunately as with all of Susannah Conway’s creative ventures, there are few or no rules, but a cleverly constructed framework for engagement with visuals and other creative people, seeing how this can give you inspiration as well as a lighter touch in the blogging world.

I’m looking forward to this as an opportunity to reduce my reliance on the written word, develop the visual side of ‘Transcending’ and also reconnect with my love of photography. I’ll be out and about a bit more, so a good time to be seeing new things and documenting them in different ways. It will still probably be mostly iphone and instagram pics but I’ve  also charged up the Nikon battery and plan to read about polaroids as well through Susannah’s ‘Instant Love‘. So all in all, a perfect time to travel with the light of photography here.

So this week’s thoughts are all about rethinking attachment to belongings, how much I need to carry with me and how I can move more lightly about the world and here in my blog space.

How are you travelling, or seeking to travel, light?

blogging planning & productivity

Managing your online reading

May 1, 2011

You are reading more online and finding so many fascinating sites that you connect with. They are stimulating your writing and you want to be able to manage them more efficiently and to be able to find them again later.

But how do you keep up with reading all the blogs that connect with your interests? How do you find what is of value to you? How do you arrange it so it’s manageable?  How do you maximise your learning from the huge volume of material ?   How do you not miss out on the key people whose work you love amidst the volume coming at you?

In short, what RSS reader will work best for you?

I’m a reader by background,  a reading teacher by professional background and now fully engaged in the rich world of online reading. When I started reading online, all was fine. I clicked on the RSS feed symbol in my browser and subscribed. This worked while I was reading a few blogs and could manage them through my favourites. Then I was reading more and more. I tried a few other RSS readers but I couldn’t quite get what I wanted and in the end, I just became overwhelmed and couldn’t keep up with it all. I recently went back to only reading what I subscribed to through email; I was missing out on so much and I just wasn’t very organised.

There must be a way, I thought, and went back to Google recently for some more research. I quickly found a wonderful article, The Best RSS Reader, by Julia Roy which answered my question  and showed me what was possible. It explained, in a very clear way, all about ‘feedly’, an add-on that works with Google Reader in Mozilla Firefox. It features a screencast demo of Julia showing how feedly works – check it out as it’s an excellent introduction.

From Julia’s overview, it seemed to be exactly what I wanted. I was able to quickly download feedly, though only after I’d downloaded Mozilla Firefox as it only seems to work through Firefox at present. Now I have Firefox though, I actually quite like it and am using it as my preferred browser at the moment.

So, back to feedly – the positives? So many:

  • As an add-on to Google Reader which already had my subscribed feeds, it just loaded straight from there into a user friendly interface.
  • Being powered by Google and Twitter, it automatically synchronises with Google Reader and your twitter feed.
  • It looks like a personalised magazine when you open it, so it’s inviting and easy to move around.
  • You can group your feeds by category.
  • There are different ways to look at your feeds: by category, latest posts, posts saved for later.
  • For readability of posts, it’s brilliant: you get a preview; you can click from there to read in full and also easily skip over to the web-page itself.
  • Sharing is so easy: there are buttons at the top so you can immediately email, tweet or bookmark so you don’t have to go to another site.
  • There are suggestions of other sites that might be of interest and mostly, they are of interest.
  • I don’t feel overwhelmed by what I haven’t read; I just read what looks interesting.
  • It’s very intuitive; it took me no time to work out what to do and how to manage it.
  • It also has mobile options but haven’t worked through that yet but clearly there is more!

The negatives?

I haven’t found any yet!

My blog reading and the organisation of my reading is back on track and I feel super-organised. I am reading my favourite bloggers again; I’m finding new blogs and adding them and I’m tweeting and bookmarking via delicious very easily. It’s so much easier to use and friendlier than some of the other reader options I have explored.

So, many thanks to feedly creators and also to Julia Roy for her blog post that enabled me to so quickly sort out this vexed issue of managing my online reading.

There are no affiliate links for feedly or anything else at this time; just enthusiasm from a satisfied feedly user. From reading the comments on Julia’s post, I am not the only one.

Do you have any comments or tips on how you manage your online reading?

Image by fczuardi from flickr and used under a Creative Commons license with thanks

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blogging creativity planning & productivity writing

The Productive Writer: Review

March 13, 2011

Two of my favourite topics are ‘Writing’ and ‘Productivity’ and the planning linked to bringing successful outcomes about. So Sage Cohen’s latest book, ‘The Productive Writer’ is perfectly attuned to my interests and priorities and I’m sure relevant to other writers interested in making the most of their time and creative efforts.

It’s eminently practical and full of tips for anyone interested in being more organised and able to produce outcomes, especially words framed in a meaningful way to make an impact. It’s relevant to all kinds of writing: poetry, fiction, business writing, non-fiction, blogs and freelance approaches. Ultimately it’s about the place of that writing in the context of your life and how to make all this work.

Sage’s key platform is that productivity is a ‘lifestyle choice’ as she outlines in the introduction:

Productivity, then, is your own, personal GPS as you navigate the endless windernesses of your mind, craft, or subject matter and bring the best of what you have to offer to the page – and the world. Productivity is a means of witnessing and steering yourself toward your greatest good and training yourself to weed out the interference along the way.

‘The Productive Writer’ then navigates its own GPS through these wide waters to cut a swathe of practical advice to assist writers to be as productive as they can in every facet of their work. The weave of the book traverses critical themes you can hang onto as signposts for your own journey. These include:

  • building a case for your future as a writer
  • studying your heroes and how they work
  • establishing a platform or organising principle for your work
  • thinking productively & capturing ideas
  • goal-setting and organisational tips
  • managing time and procrastination tendencies
  • revising tips
  • publishing and promoting
  • sustaining relationships around your work
  • celebrating your success

I especially loved Chapter 12, ‘Writing in the Margins of a Full-time Life’ that reminded me that I am not the only one working full-time and trying to write; that it’s not just about balancing work and writing – it’s about balancing life and writing; and the value of my day job to my writing life and the need to remember to acknowledge the skills I learn there. As Sage comments in the context of her own diverse mix of writing commitments:

Each skill I acquire in service to someone else’s goals becomes a part of my own toolbox.’ (p115)

Sage, as her name suggests, is a very wise writer. This book, linked in with her new platform ‘The Path of Possibility’, brings writing and productivity together in a way that amplifies both and clearly sets them in the context of a broader creative life. Like Sage’s previous book, the wonderful ‘Writing the Life Poetic’, ‘The Productive Writer’ has the effect of taking you by the hand and encouraging you, gently and practically, every step of the way from vision to fruition. Committing to writing is not an easy task and we all need all the support and advice we can get to overcome resistance, barriers and excuses. Sage’s book demonstrates that:

…when we see that there are endless ways to establish and sustain a productive writing life – at any age, in any work-family circumstance – we may have an easier time trusting that we will find our own way forward.’

As you can see from the recent gaps here, for a number of reasons, I am having my own struggles with balancing writing in my life. Thankfully, in the meantime, I have also been reading ‘The Productive Writer’. Whilst struggling with the immediate application at present, the ideas contained there will become a critical part of reorienting my own GPS in moving forward to achieve my writing goals.

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creativity planning & productivity transcending writing

About stillness

February 13, 2011

While I have been doing my annual review of 2010 and goal setting for 2011 (and yes I do know it’s the middle of February already!), I have been thinking about my theme and word for this year.

It has become a popular concept to have a word for the year. I like the idea of having a word to focus you, direct you and power you, offering the opportunity of a clearly identified source of strength.

Here are some writers and thinkers employing and celebrating the word of the year in their lives and work:

  • Sage Cohen wrote on this issue on her new site, the Path of Possibility, especially in relation to being a productive writer. Sage’s word of the year is grace.
  • Shanna Germain’s piece on her word of the year and how its various meanings might play out in 2011 is so full of energy. Shanna’s word is the very powerful prime.
  •  Ali Edwards has been writing about the power of One Little Word since 2007. She has a One Little Word online workshop where you can learn more about the power of working with the one word concept.  Ali’s word of the year is light.
  • Christine Kane has a Word of the Year worksheet tool which provides a framework for working through your words and your goals.

I have been reflecting on my word and waiting for it. It came suddenly and perfectly whole one day in January. The word is stillness.

This word is about all aspects of my life and especially how I source my strength. I am highly intuitive and introspective according to the Myer Briggs Inventory.  I spend most of my days in constant contact with people at work; often very extraverted people, full of energy and ideas. I am keen to be more aware of how to be still, to listen, to charge my batteries and to be calm and to make a difference wherever I am.

Some definitions of stillness include:

  • tranquil silence
  • state of being quiet or calm
  • the absence of sound
  • calmness without winds
  • a state of no motion of movement
  • motionlessness, immobility, remaining in place

Here are some examples of what stillness means to me:

  • choosing to close the door a little more to write and reflect
  • listening to others and learning
  • creating the space to enable people to come to their own solutions
  • asking the right questions at the right time
  • being early instead of rushing, being late or just on time
  • resisting a sense of urgency to solve everything now
  • being comfortable with a phase of muddle and overwhelm
  • finding the right way to focus a difficult or unproductive team or meeting
  • taking the time to consult and map a complex problem to get to the heart of it
  • keeping things simple and not over-complicating
  • knowing and allowing the space and conditions for creativity
  • a candle burning steadily
  • a walk on the beach and standing in a cool pool of water

Stillness is not always a complete absence of movement; it’s more the calm that will power the right moves and provide the time for reflection for myself and others. I am finding much strength in that ‘one little word’. As Ali Edwards says:

It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything.

There is a sense of ‘stillness’ being absolutely the right word to navigate myself and consequently others. Through a sense of ease and calm, it seems more likely that desired goals like creative process, business success, teamwork and balance will be achieved.

And via @DennyCoates on twitter, comes a perfect quote from D H Lawrence:

“One’s action ought to come out of an achieved stillness: not to be a mere rushing on.”

Perfect. What word is working for you in 2011?

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