the bliss of an answer

the bliss of an answer

I remember it clearly; the moment I realized this virus making headlines was going to disrupt “life as we know it.” I was standing in the kitchen of my little beach house and asked myself, “Is this the last carefree day I’ll have?”

I had no idea.

The last three months are hard to put into words. Yes, there has been sadness, and anxiety. Too much some days. There was brain fog. Days when it seemed impossible to focus. And there’s been anger, frustration and a sense of disbelief at what I see happening in our country.

And stress baking … soooo much stress baking. It’s how I cope.

This week, there’s been hope. Clarity. A new understand that I’ve only been paying lip service to what I called “my priorities” in the past.

My priorities have become crystalized. So much just simply doesn’t matter all that much in light of what is now obviously important. A life decision last week brought with it such calm, such a sureness of heart, that it’s clear to me I’d only be riding the surface of what I said mattered all along.

And the Universe is answering in grand style, as it tends to do when my stated intentions match my heart’s desire and my physical actions.

This week I realized my ease is returning. That day back in March wasn’t my last carefree day. Yes, there’s still mountains of uncertainty, but life is all about that, yes?

Our certainty comes at the intersection of what we think, what we say, what we do and what we desire. This is where ease lives, the flow we’re seeking.

At this intersection we find the grace and the courage and the strength to move head and face tomorrow.

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the truth about Perfection

the truth about Perfection

per·fec·tion: pərˈfekSH(ə)n/: noun

is defined as…

1. the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects. 

2. a person or thing perceived as the embodiment of perfection.

the ideal, a paragon, the ne plus ultra, a nonpareil, the crème de la crème, the last word, the ultimate, the best; 

“More the action or process of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible.”

Who determines our standards of perfection to which we drive ourselves ? 

Are we not all in a constant state of “improvement, betterment, refining, and honing”? 

And if we aren’t … 

we have achieved x, y or z … 

where do we sit, looking outward and basking in this isolated space of perfection?  

There is nowhere to go once we reach a state of (imagined) perfection. 

In our lives, 

on our mats 

or in our outward search for “more.”

My sea walks (with inspired bouts of yoga and photo snaps) have started to lean to a repetitive conversation with my companion. 

We always look for our favorite shells to collect. Slow walks, downcast gazes and easy conversations are had in this magical, cleansing space. 

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“Oh look at this one! 

(Slow pause)…

It would have been perfect if …” 

and we toss it back into the sea. 

“Oh, I wish that one was whole …

or shinier …

or didn’t have that hole.”

The photography of my poses takes on the same tone … 

“oh, the light is strange, 

or 

can you zoom out a bit

or 

my lines aren’t correct …  

we will delete that one.”

We see the shells’ scars and worn edges. Broken pieces, halves with their beautiful patterns, elusive because we can’t imagine it in its whole state. 

We criticize ourselves 

and others 

and our poses 

the same way. 

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Like the shells, my scars are plentiful. 

As are the scars of most people I know. 

We all have a story, a pain, a badge of honor we carry in our pockets that we struggled through … 

a rock we were battered against 

or a wave we were carelessly tossed by. 

What if every scar 

or our tears 

or pains 

were blazoned across our skin? 

Would we be discarded by others as easily as we toss those simple shells back into the sea? 

We search for perfection … 

in a mate

in a job

in a house

in our lives

and especially on our mats. 

We demand it …

we expect it … 

we struggle to attain it. 

But at what cost? 

Maybe, if we turned our souls inside out, we would have much more compassion and gratitude for others. 

If they could see our broken pieces too. Our flaws, 

our dance with our struggles. 

Our scars make us beautiful. Our pains provide opportunity for growth if we walk through them. 

We must share our stories, 

allow ourselves 

and others to heal …

then allow all those broken pieces to evolve into something beautiful. 

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Something that, 

one day, 

someone …

will truly see …

and find the art, 

magic 

and inspiration in. 

Only then do we grow. 

Struggle not towards perfection … 

just growth, 

constant growth …

Walk the path. 

Enjoy the journey! 

Be Yoga ….

Namaste

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the link between fear and creativity

the link between fear and creativity

Creativity is less about talent and more about fear.

Yep, I’m going out on a limb here.  Time to have a serious talkin’ to … with ourselves.   

Not all fear is real.  And once we learn how to get out of our own way, our lives will be spectacular!

You’ve all seen the acronym FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. How many excuses do we need to justify not doing what we want to do?  Do these excuses come it from your M.F.T.P. (Mother, Father, Teacher, Preacher)?  You know these fears … Artists can’t make a real living.  You’re too old to write a book.  What if you fail?  What if people don’t like it?  Why can’t you be happy with what you have?  What makes you think anyone cares?  You’re too young.  You’re too old. 

Begone, excuses!  That was someone else telling you their fears.  And they were probably truly trying to help you.  But they are not you.  Their experiences are not yours.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how I feel about “whispers.”  They matter and they are important.

As I write in my book 10 Little Rules for Your Creative Soul, I was an artist, in my mind, when I was eight years old.  Where it came from, I do not know, but I found myself sketching and longing to take an art class.  There were no art classes available to me, and “being an artist” was foreign to my family and my situation.  So I just drew sometimes … because it felt good.  (The rest of the story is in my book …  and the ending may surprise you.) 

My point is this: It took me 40+ years to listen to those whispers.  I wouldn’t trade anything in my life, except that I could have included art and painting all along.  I thought I had to make a choice.  I thought creativity tapped you on the shoulder and selected you.  I never dreamed, until I retired and had the time to listen to my whispers, that I actually was an artist.  Maybe not the best trained or recognized artist, but I was sure happy.

What do you want to do?  What do you want to try? Listen. Listen. Those whispers may be warning you of something, and deserve to be heard.  They may also be trying to get your attention so you can go on a journey of self- discovery.

Aim up!

Rita

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Meet the Author – Amy Hege Atwell

Meet the Author – Amy Hege Atwell

Having spent most of her adult life climbing the commercial retail ladder, author Amy Atwell dreamed of one day leaving the corporate world to run her own store The Painted Mermaid.  The arrival of her son, at age 43 gave her the confidence to just that.  A series of unexpected events put her magical world in jeopardy and send her down an unexpected path of self awareness, personal growth and enlightenment.  Her book 10 Little Rules for Mermaids was an important part of that journey.

Presently living through the shelter at home days of the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 with her young son, Amy looks forward to returning to her loves of ‘picking’, ‘making’, merchandising and celebrating life with her shoppers and friends at The Painted Mermaid.  Until then, her love of cooking, writing, reading, yoga, great phone banter with friends, and most of all quality, one on one time with the 8 year old love of her life keep her safe, grounded, and hopeful.  

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the bliss of owning your story

the bliss of owning your story

“He can call you anything he likes. That doesn’t make it true.”

Those words pulled me up short. Spoken by a friend during a really rough time in my life, they drilled deeply into my soul.

Our story is so often conflated with other people’s stories about us that it’s easy to forget we are in charge of how we feel about ourselves, our lives.

I’d been telling myself various versions of other people’s stories about me for years, taking on their criticism and a side order of guilt.

“He can call you anything he likes. That doesn’t make it true.”

It only makes it true if I believe it, if I own it. This idea is one of the reasons why I founded 10 Little Rules … not just to publish my own book, but to give other authors a chance to tell their own story. In their words, not the words of anyone else.

It’s been an incredible journey these past nine years, and today we launch our next book into the world — 10 Little Rules for Mermaids, written by Amy Hege Atwell, owner of The Painted Mermaid in Southport, NC.

On the surface, it’s absolutely delightful. And just like a mermaid, it dives suddenly and gracefully into hidden depths, re-emerging drenched in sparkles.

I’m proud to be associated with this book. It’s fun (and lord knows we could us a bit of fun these days) and it is empowering. As Amy said last week:

“I found myself a little – something – about the combination of all the world wide stuff happening and the timing as it relates a rollout, and quite frankly I have decided this is indeed the time to heavily promote ALL of our books. Not so much because of the hope and sunshine they offer, but the EMPOWERMENT. What better timing to show women in particular what they CAN do to drive strength and change within themselves and therefore the world. “

So today we launch pre-orders on this beautiful, soulful book, and I hope it does help … make you smile, make you think, make you feel a bit stronger about your own story and owning it with pride.

Namaste, Mermaids!

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Your Creativity LOVES Uncertainty

Your Creativity LOVES Uncertainty

We certainly have been pushed into a vortex of uncertainty.

This is good news for your creative soul.

Don’t look now, but your creativity wants to come out and play!  And all the old routines that we were forced into, either gladly or reluctantly, are gone for a while.  Like the kids’ practices, and events we didn’t really want to attend anyway. 

Take a deep breath and say hello to your whispers.

As we rush toward returning to the life we once had, let’s consider what things we truly want to take back with us.  We have some time to reflect and remember who we really are.  What is most important to us?   Why do we live the life we choose to live?

Whispers are not scary.  They can be messy, though.  Whispers are thoughts or ideas that keep popping into your head, and sometimes seem silly or weird.  Those whispers start out quietly and can turn into nudges.  If we ignore the nudges or signs, a crisis can absolutely make you pay attention.  It’s so much easier to listen to the whispers.  Your inner voice will only speak when you allow it the opportunity.  Your heart is speaking; let it be heard.

Your whispers are trying to tell you something, so let’s invite them in and have a little conversation.  You are always in control, so start asking “why?” and let the answers come, then ask again, until you can’t get to another answer.  Your whispers don’t always make sense, but give it some time and listen carefully … your world will open up and your clarity will be laser-like. 

I had a conversation today with a friend about how she can’t plan for her creativity.  It just doesn’t work.  She feels there has to be a real need for it and then her creativity just explodes.  I call this Inspired Action, and I talk about it in the introduction of my book 10 Little Rules for Your Creative Soul

No two snowflakes are alike.  We are all creative and we are all truly snowflakes. Until you convince yourself you ARE creative, it may take a forced or planned action to get you to shine your little light!   

There is a real need right now to listen to your whispers so you can fast track your joy.

I believe in you.  Aim up!

Rita

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the bliss of the silver lining

the bliss of the silver lining

There’s a vision board above my desk, with my hopes, wishes and desires for the year 2020. When I made it I was full of enthusiasm for a new year, and had several conversations with friends about what an amazing year it was going to be.

Everyone felt it … there was something in the air … somehow 2020 felt “different” from the start. The possibilities were endless.

It’s different, alright.

Early April, I considered taking my vision board off the wall, knowing the year I expected and hoped for was not in the cards. No graduation trips, no girls weekend in the spring with my three girls, no wedding shower for my oldest and her fiance, maybe even no big wedding in the fall. My excitement for 2020 was replaced with sadness and loss.

Then I took a closer look, and realized the only thing that changed was the “hows.”

In the vision board workshop I hosted in January, we discussed the key element of envisioning, then manifesting, the life you truly desire; it’s letting go of “how” your desires will manifest, and let the Universe and its brilliant serendipity figure that out.

Our job, instead of planning each how along the way, is to set the intention for our desires, let it go, then take whatever inspired action moves into our awareness. This goes for the physical things we want, as well as the spiritual and emotional.

This is hard enough to do in a “normal” year. We have a set understanding of “how” things are supposed to happen. You want a new job? You update your resume, scour the job sites, ask your network. Reasonable — yet what if you took that intention of finding a new job with you wherever you went, even to the Farmer’s Market, say, where you meet someone and strike up a conversation that leads to a mention of someone looking for your exact skill set?

Never in a million years would you have put “Go to Farmer’s Market” on your to-do list for finding a job … yet how often does this kind of serendipity happen?

So back to my vision board — I was someone convinced that my vision for the year was totally upended by the pandemic. Then I took a closer look …

  • closer connection with my husband? That was certainly happening.
  • more connection with family? My daughters and I are closer than ever, never hesitating to jump on FaceTime when we need to an extra dose of love, and keeping up a daily stream of texts; our extended family has Zoom chats every Saturday night.
  • the guest room redecorated and ready for company? Just about complete, including a new paint-by-number done as “stress therapy”
  • more faith? Faith has been my touchstone during the last few months, in a way I’ve never felt it before.
  • a clean and organized home? Well, the year’s not over yet …

It’s been an astonishing thing to learn these lessons. Even with my surface level awareness of letting go of the hows, the reality comes as a shock. I would never wish for the situation the world is facing today … yet I realize it doesn’t spell the end of our dreaming, our desires for ourselves and the ones we love.

Maybe this is what my grandmother said when she always searched for silver linings in her challenging life. She wasn’t in denial; she simply had faith.

I’ve learnt it is entirely possibly to be grateful and sad at the same time; happy and sorrowful; strong at heart yet anxious; looking forward to the future while struggling with the present.

It is entirely possible that I just may get the year I envisioned after all …

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How is hope working for you right now?

How is hope working for you right now?

HOPE.  I used to think this word was an excuse. That it could mask pain and maybe even support a “why did this happen to me” mindset. It always seemed to come from need.  Hope seemed to require no real action, and did nothing. Nothing to get the car in gear and the pedal to the metal. 

Well, the universe has sure taught me a lesson around that, and it’s especially poignant during the uncertainty we are now living with. 

Hope is at the very basis of creativity, which stems from purpose and passion. In my book, 10 Little Rules for Your Creative Soul, I quote Liz Gilbert, who shared her thoughts on this:

 “Creative living is living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

To me, that curiosity can only be based in some level of hope, that there is something better waiting. Deepak Chopra’s asked the question “How is hope working for you right now?” and his thoughts helped me view hope, in the face of fear, in a whole new light.

  • Hope is Intention   
  • Hope is Joyful Desire   
  • Hope is SELF
  • Hope is our source of strength in times of uncertainty.

Hope is faith in things working out, even if we don’t see how that will happen at this moment.

Hope is being brave, experiencing life in a new way each day, trusting others, and mainly trusting and living in our truth.

Hope is being true to yourself,  your inner knowing, your core, your true north – in a world that is beginning again and will be your new canvas on which to paint your story.  

Be well, my friends…and stay hopeful.

Who Are You?

Rita

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