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helping

All my life, I’ve wanted to help people.

If there was some way I could share wisdom, provide a shoulder to cry on, or inspire a new way of thinking or doing, I would go for it. I would give my best advice on how to fix her situation and pull in for the tightest mama bear hug I could muster. It always felt so good afterwards – like a warm sensation that spread out from my heart, radiating its golden light all around me, and bring a feeling of purpose and comfort to my smiling face.

{I suspect you can relate to this too.}

But like all things in life, there is a shadow side to this impulse to be helpful.

It’s the people pleaser, the performer, the little girl inside you who desperately wants to feel like she belongs.

It’s when you are listening to a girlfriend cry about her woes and you can’t help but jump in mid-sentence to tell her you’ve got the answer and can fix it for her. When all she really wanted was for you to listen, which you sort of knew but something inside you needed to shout out. That something is part that wants to matter.

When operating from this space of wanting to be helpful, it’s not actually about generosity. It’s about trying to get your needs met through other people. You want adoration, validation, anything to let you know that you are seen and enough for this world.

As a recovering people pleaser myself, I have done a lot of my own healing work around this darker aspect of wanting to help people. One of the places I’ve found the most healing is in communities of women – sister circles.

It was a few years ago that I was introduced to two powerful concepts that have helped me overcome this darker side of people pleasing: sovereignty and witnessing.

For The Woman Who Just Wants to Help

Sovereignty

The best explanation I’ve ever heard of this word is remembering your power.

When you are in a place of sovereignty, you remember that you have the ability to meet your own needs and don’t need to play out patterns of trying to get them met through other people.

When you are operating as a sovereign being, you are taking beautiful care of yourself as a powerful and creative being. You are open-hearted enough to give to others in a way that feels so much better than when you do it to seek their approval. Bonus: You are more able to fully receive from other people in a way that feels way better than when you were approval-seeking.

I’ve noticed that, the more I’ve been able to focus on taking care of my own needs (resting, feeling the full range of my emotions, nourishing my body with good foods and water, nurturing my creativity, spending time with good girlfriends), the more I am able to fully give to others when they are in genuine need. It doesn’t feel depleting and I am much more present than I used to be – no thinking of ways to get out of the conversation or getting super bossy. It’s way less exhausting to be sovereign.

Witnessing

Witnessing is one of the most powerful methods for connecting I’ve learned about in a space of sisterhood, and I’ve been able to apply it in all areas of my life including my marriage and my work.

It’s just like it sounds – when you are a witness to someone, you aren’t intervening in their own process.

It doesn’t mean giving advice or offering your take on the situation. When you witness, you are simply observing and saying “yes I see you.

This was tough for me to understand at first. It felt like it was going against my compassionate, helpful nature to sit and watch someone else suffer. If I was worried, I would intervene. I would proudly be the first girl to offer a box of tissues to the sobbing girlfriend.

But by sitting quietly and observing someone else’s struggle, you are creating space around them to allow them to work through their own process. You are holding the vision of sovereignty. You get to open your heart and watch them open up more and more until they can see what needs to be healed in order to transform. It’s completely magical to witness in person.

So this means watching them cry without offering them the tissue, and instead wait for them to ask. Because when you offer them a tissue, you are sending the message that what they are experiencing needs to stop. That it’s not okay to be feeling what they are feeling.

You’ve likely experienced this before. Like in those moments when a friend is falling apart in front of you and you have no idea what to say. But, before you know it, they are hugging and thanking you. You felt like you didn’t do much but are relieved and happy to know they are feeling better. You are holding space and being a witness for their own transformation. It’s so magical!

This can be applied when witnessing a sister struggling through her creative process. When you see her struggling, resist the urge to perfect, to teach, to not let her stumble. Because it is through our own stumbling that we find our way. We remember that we are powerful creative beings that can meet our own needs, which serves as fuel for our creative lives.

I share this wisdom with you as a person who still struggles with standing in her own sovereignty and showing up as a fully resourced sister who can witness and hold space for any woman in need. This is a lifelong journey, and we all stumble from time to time.

But the knowledge of and devotion to this mindset has served me in countless ways, but particularly in my relationship with fellow women – my sisters. Cultivating deep, trusting relationships with sisters (in person and virtually) has allowed me to grow into a more courageous, creative, and compassionate version of myself.

What about you? What’s been your experience with sisterhood? Have you practiced calling in sovereignty or witnessing before? Share in the comments below.

Photos via Rosa Delgado

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Creative Confidence

There was a time when I would feel so much anxiety and panic in my body whenever I would attempt any sort of creative project.

It would start with feeling a lot of confusion when looking at or listening to directions on how to create something. My brain would purposely muddle all the words together and send me a message that this was going to be too complicated to complete and I would likely f*ck it up.

It would take a lot of internal pep-talking to get me pick up the supplies and start creating. Some days the pep talks would work and some days I would walk away in frustration and find something else easier to do.

On the days the pep talks worked, I would dive in and allow my hands to find their way.

As my fingers would get the hang of it, my breath and heartbeat would quicken with excitement and I’d start giggling and moving faster. This is that magical moment I live for when the magic of making awakens inside of you and you can feel the creative blood flowing through you once again.

For me (and likely for some of you), that moment of excitement felt a little scary for my inner perfectionist – the part that is terrified of messing up.

Excitement with Creating + Fear of Messing Up = Creative Anxiety

Creative anxiety can show up in a few ways:

Rushing through the process as quickly as possible so it can be done and completed. This is usually a way for your inner perfectionist to get through the process of being in the “messy middle” of the creative process, where it’s just you and your creative intuition at play. There are very little rules and parameters in this messy middle and your inner perfectionist is likely very uncomfortable with this state, so she attempts to avoid these feelings by rushing you through the process as quickly as possible.

Getting part of the way through your creative process and having a panicky meltdown. Usually the meltdown is over the fact that you aren’t sure what the final outcome will be (or that you are quite certain it won’t look the way you want it to or pictured it to) that you bail completely.

Engagement Avoidance. Looks something like this: Setting a creative date with yourself, putting out all the supplies, checking your email, watching a few episodes of The Bachelor, checking instagram, making a snack, and oops you ran out of time so maybe you’ll try making something tomorrow.

When you allow creative anxiety to run the show and prevent you from exploring your creative curiosity, you miss out on the beautiful, soul nourishing experiences that await you.

As someone who is very familiar with creative anxiety and who has worked with many people who experience it as well, I can tell you that it’s nothing you can’t get past.

All it requires is creating some space for you to slow down your brain and calm your body so you can reconnect with the joy of creating.

I do this through a little creative ritual.

When I say “ritual”, I’m not talking about big, ornate cultural or religious events. I’m referring to simple actions that connect us to ourselves, our intentions, and the present moment. These simple yet powerful rituals slow you down and connect you to this moment here and now. They help you enter flow state, the state of being where you’re actually not thinking, not aware of anything other than the act of what you are doing.

If I’m feeling a little doubt-y or rush-y in my head before diving into a creative project, I perform the ritual of making myself a pot of tea.

This involves choosing a teapot from my tea cupboard – usually it’s my dark blue teapot that comes with a handknit cozy or the gold teapot that used to be my grandmother’s. I put a kettle of water on the stove and choose a tea from the many tins and baskets in my tea cupboard while the water boils. I slip the loose tea into tea bag and twist it two times to secure it before plopping it in the teapot. When the kettle whistles, I pour the steaming water into the pot and cover it to steep for at least 10 minutes. While the tea is steeping, I choose a mug to sip my tea out of and place it on the counter while I stare out the kitchen window at the birds flitting about the backyard from tree to tree. When the tea is ready, I bring the pot and cup over to my workspace and gently pour the steaming tea into the cup – inhaling its aroma and taking deep breaths. I sip the tea and get to work.

This ritual practice helps me counteract creative anxiety. In the coming weeks, I’m going to share something even more powerful to help you bust out of creative anxiety and cultivate your own creative confidence.

If you are prone to experience bouts of creative anxiety, and don’t want to let that hold you back any longer from living a creative life, then I recommend cultivate your own creative rituals.

They can be as simple as:

  • Brewing and drinking tea or coffee
  • Taking a walk outside in your neighborhood
  • Meditating for 5-20 minutes
  • Pulling out a journal and writing down everything that’s swimming in your head in a brain dump on paper so you can feel refreshed to begin
  • Taking 5 deep breaths {in for 6 counts, hold for 2 counts, out for 8 counts}
  • Having a personal dance party to shake out all your nervous and anxious energy

What about you? Have you ever experienced creative anxiety before? Do you have creative rituals of your own? I’d love to read about it.

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letting go of perfect

Last week, I let you know that it’s okay to keep resting in these winter months leading up to the new growth that spring brings just around the corner. For some of you, this may have felt like just the permission you needed to get back to your afternoon naps and slow mornings full of rest and reflection.

But there are likely others of you that felt conflicted.

You fully understand that the earth up here in the northern hemisphere is at its quietest (and you love the idea of aligning your life with the natural rhythm of the seasons), however your ambitious, goal-oriented side can’t quite get down with the idea of resting your tired body a few more weeks and risk “getting behind” in life.

I know that feeling well, sister.

As a recovering perfectionist, I catch myself secretly judging my inability to “keep up” with the expectations I put on myself at the beginning of each year.

I set huge expectations for myself and get started at it in those first few January weeks. I’m going hard and strong – kicking ass and taking names during the week while also maintaining a full social calendar on the weekend…until I’m stopped right in my tracks. It’s usually around the third or fourth week of January when I fall sick with a bad cold or the flu that wipes me out for an entire week. All that pushing through to keep it all together ends up pushing me over the edge and I’m no longer resourced to keep going.

I begin the year with big plans and only last a few weeks before my body says CHILL and I’m forced to re-think these plans of mine. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned about life, it’s to live with more creativity and intention and less fear, force and perfection.

I’ve been loving this process of transforming expectations into intentions.

When I connect goals to an intention or feeling as opposed to an exact expectation (otherwise known as the plan), I’m able to find more fulfillment and less pressure in pursuing it.

This is why I love the combination of intention, flow and creativity. When I am leaning into my creative dabblist side, I am creating space to quiet my mind, hear my heart, and connect more deeply to my intentions. Then the plan doesn’t hold quite as much power over me as it did when I was obsessing over my new year’s goals.

Another beautiful and intentional way to release attachment to a specific outcome is through ritual.

We’re coming up on the first full moon of 2016 this weekend, so this is a wonderful time to craft your own releasing ceremony.

The moon is powerful.

It influences the ocean tides, our own internal cycles as women, the growth cycles around the planet, and so much more. A full moon occurs every 28 days, which is when it’s at it’s brightest in the sky. A full moon signifies a moment in time when you can release and let go of what you’ve outgrown or is no longer serving you. It’s a powerful way to invoke in a new way of being, ceremoniously.

I’ve shared my own Full Moon Ritual to Release Perfect that you can download right here:

Full Moon Ritual to Release Perfect

If you enjoyed this post, then stay tuned for what I’ve been cooking up for you next with The Dabblist Collective.

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Finding Harmony

If you’re like me, you hit the ground running soon after the clock struck 2016.

That first week of January, I went after it. I had a head full of dreams, plans, visions, and resolutions and nothing was going to stop me.

The new year energy is infectious. Promise and optimism fills the air. Advertisements and blog posts coming across our screens all expressing encouragement and motivation to take on this year like never before.

It’s a battle cry we all yearn for – to feel that motivation and passion to transform our lives.

But I want to caution you and give you a different perspective on what to do with all that powerful and motivating energy you’ve got tingling at your fingertips right now. Because I don’t want you to face plant into bed several weeks from now because all that momentum has slowed and you’re back to old bad habits.

I don’t want you to lose that passion.

In order to do that, I want you to remember that (for most of you reading in the northern hemisphere), it’s still winter.

nature

image via

Winter – a time of going within, resting, and being quiet knowing that the fertile spring is around the corner.

Just as it is a vital part of the natural cycles of the planet, winter time is integral to the full human experience of a successful year. This time of rest and reflection is meant to nourish and renew us for the year to come – when the sun gets brighter longer and our energy increases. When we skip this vital time of year for our bodies, we can feel depleted, exhausted, and often sick. It’s cold and flu season for a reason, folks.

So, with the calendar year beginning anew and all your plans for making this year an adventurous, inspiring one to remember, I give you permission to pace yourself.

Rest your body when you need to. Nourish it with broths and winter vegetables. Get enough sleep and drink lots of water.

And know that, if you’re wondering where your energy for new growth and action-taking has gone, rest assured it lies just beyond the bend, when the snow will melt and seeds will sprout.

What about you? Are you feeling like you need to slow your roll to preserve your energy and intentions for 2016? Let me know (along with your intentions for this year) in the comments below!

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watercolor

I’ve been wanting to share with you what I’ve been dabbling in lately. While I could tell you that I’ve been successfully making soap over the past few months (got all the supplies and everything), that would be a lie. For some reason, my time to dabble in soapmaking isn’t here yet.

Right now I’ve been knee deep in learning watercolor painting.

I’ve long been enamored with the whimsy of watercolors. Something about it feels so deeply feminine and in flow.

Watercolor has also scared me for a long time – seemed like there were too many ways to mess up. And this recovering perfectionist does not like to feel like she’s messed up or failed in some way.

Am I right, ladies?

But I am committed to my work of dabbling myself out of perfection and back to my inspired self who is living a more joyful, enlivened life, so I got myself some brushes, paints, and paper and got to playing. Now full on hooked.

watercolor

Watercolor provides so many lessons for us, beyond creating something beautiful. Some of the most beautiful work unfolds when you go in without a plan.

When I follow my intuition and let my feelings guide me (rather than the plan), I am giving myself creative freedom. The plan dictates an expectation, and expectation often leads to feelings of failure because the end product usually doesn’t reflect the expectation.

When you drop into your natural flow state, you access creative freedom. And that is where the magic happens. You uncover the deep, inner artistry that the plan never could have predicted. So, instead of putting brush to paper with the intention of creating a perfect single rose, I start forming petals and a bouquet of different flowers comes of it. Or perhaps something abstract that feels more poetic than that perfectly painted single rose ever could have.

It is forgiving.

If you make a mistake that really must go, you can usually blot it with a paper towel and transform it into something else. The flow and movement of the water is your friend if you work with her

It’s okay to bleed.

In fact, the bleeding and blending of the water and colors together is my favorite part. Using the water, you can watch where the bleeding of the colors takes you. If you can take a few deep breaths and surrender to the moment and being with the colors and the water, real magic can happen. When you surrender to the will of the water, you can expand your creative consciousness to see your creation in a whole new light.

Imperfect is beautiful.

Too much detail can take away from the soft, flowy effect that watercolor gives. Trust in the imperfections as you go, and you’ll see the beauty in all the brushstrokes.

Presence and patience are your friend.

The nature of painting watercolor requires that you be present with your creation. To take deep breaths and watch how the color moves in the water, how they blend together, and where your brush wants to move next. It is a meditation in motion, with a gorgeous gift at your fingertips.

It’s okay to walk away and come back to it.

When I catch myself in a rush to complete the task, just get it done, or am not sure what to do next with my work, I simply put down my brushes and walk away for a little bit. It gives me a breather and some great perspective. Plus, once the paint dries, you’ll be able to see your work in a new light and can choose to add more to it or feel complete with it.

watercolor

Let me assure you that I am no expert in watercolor here, but the simple act of dabbling in this creative practice is enough to expand my mind, open my heart, and connect me to my inner wise woman. If you are drawn to this beautiful artistic practice the way I am, then I invite you to pick up a brush and delight in the experience.

Beloved Supplies for Watercolor Dabbling

  • Thick, Beautiful Paper (I like Strathmore Cold Press Ready Cut)
  • Painter’s Tape to prevent the paper from warping from the water. I tape down the sides of the paper to my work table before painting.
  • Brushes of various sizes and shapes (like these)
  • Really good paint (I like Winsor & Newton)
  • A plastic palette to blend and save colors (like this one)
  • Two glasses of water – one for cool colors and one for warm colors
  • Pinterest to pull up images of what you want to work with (I like to look up flowers and trees)
  • Lighting a candle and putting on a soothing music playlist to get the mood right while I paint

Itching to try out watercolor yourself?

Check around local art studios and stores to find a beginners workshop near you. I also found a bunch of classes online:

Are you a seasoned watercolor dabblist? Share your favorite tips and tools in the comments below!

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