Between those struck by the pandemic (including some of my family members!), the political news, the protests, and the stark divide in our country around deeply rooted racism, life has gotten intense and stressful for most of us.
I've been listening and absorbing, aiming to educate myself and, honestly, taking a deep dive into self-care.
I believe and have experienced that the power of an individual's determined intent can become as influential as the power of 10,000. But we must start within ourselves first. This is how nurturing creativity and living an inspired life can impact the world. Being creative isn't just about expressing yourself and doodling for fun.
It's about getting in touch with your humanity, once you dig deeper than the muck or darkness--that we all have--and pulling out your Greater Self to face the challenges of our world.
Let's make the world a better place by starting with ourselves. Let's battle through our own weakness through practicing positive mindset and affirmations.
Here's a positive affirmation I created for one of my original nature product designs that I look at every single day:
"Your view of yourself will follow the lead of your courageous action."
Sometimes I don't feel courageous or hopeful. But by taking positive action, I train myself to be positive and proactive. I win over myself through action.
I cannot change others. I can only work on myself and my personal contribution to make the world a little better from my own little corner of it.
I've been creating Facebook Live video messages to clarify what YourCreativeChord offers, as a source for inspiration and hope, and to feature my nature-inspired products.
Click here to see my video taking you behind the scenes in my workspace to show how I keep myself strong and positive in the face of struggle and historic turmoil.
Click here to join me in my morning routine and to learn why what I do impacts not only my wellness, but how I show up in the world.
I've also been posting Live videos in my new Facebook Creative Memorial Planning Group about alternatives to traditional funeral planning. If you want to learn more about how to prepare a meaningful, earth-friendly, cost-reducing, personalized memorial with less or zero religious or funeral business involvement, you can join my group here.
Living an inspired and victorious life leads to a victorious death. The Buddhist teacher, Nichiren, taught that to understand life, one must understand death.
This theme underlies my personal mission to share creative memorial planning options through my Facebook group, webinar, ebook, and through one on one consultations.
I feel my services and education about these creative memorial options are especially relevant during this historically challenging time of the 2020 pandemic, economic situation, and the protests aimed at transforming deeply rooted racism.
I've been proactively taking my business online, especially with Facebook, so if you want to connect with me there, you can click here.
I hope you're encouraged and emboldened by this message and from watching my Facebook Live video. May my messages inspire you to keep taking care of yourself.
This is how you'll forge your inner strength and the deep conviction that each action you take to polish your life becomes a meaningful and necessary addition to the ocean of our collective humanity.
Stay strong and stay well and follow the lead of your courageous action.
Jenny Leigh Hodgins 🎶💃🌻
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
This month, YourCreativeChord Podcast will feature my conversation with guest, Dr. Tara Sanderson, a “Licensed Psychologist, Author, and Clinical Supervisor in Oregon.” The podcast will post in two episodes on March 17 and 31.
LISTEN to EPISODE 1 HERE.
Dr. Sanderson has been “helping people learn the skills to live their best lives” for more than 20 years. I read her new book, "Too Much, Not Enough A guide to decreasing anxiety and finding balance through intentional choices," and reviewed it earlier here.
I invited Dr. Sanderson to be a guest on my podcast because her experience as a counselor and someone who wrestles with perfectionism and anxiety, is perfectly in sync with nurturing creativity and inspiration.
The Dance Between Anxiety And Creative Flow
Getting or staying inspired sometimes comes with its own brand of anxieties for many creative people. I wanted to tap Dr. Sanderson's expertise on addressing this kind of negative self-talk.
We dove into the strategies she put forth in her book about decreasing anxiety. She shared a mindfulness tool she learned in a workshop, called SOBER:
S = Stop
O = Observe
B = Breathe
E = Examine the options
R = Respond
In our chat, Dr. Sanderson walked me through how to use each step of the SOBER tool. Our conversation is relevant for those who struggle with perfectionism, overachieving, anxiety, depression, and “the inner critic.”
E Is For Examine Options Versus Extreme Emotion
The step 'E' in SOBER particularly struck me as useful for those prone to anxiety or perfectionism. Examining the options within a particular scenario is a solid strategy for getting out of extreme, black-and-white thinking that is common for someone in an anxious state.
Dr. Sanderson demonstrated the use of initiating a dialogue with the 'inner critic.’ This inner voice, or self-talk, typically presents an extremely negative option.
Dr. Sanderson’s technique suggests brainstorming five different options versus the one negative option, opening the opportunity for making choices that feel better. Addressing this internal voice directly with alternate options instead of the one extreme reaction commonly offered by the ‘inner critic’ opens the mental space for calm, reason, and a better outcome.
3 Keys For Inspiring Bumperstickers
Dr. Sanderson's technique for handling a stressful choice is to follow the SOBER steps until you're able to respond in a way that's 'on purpose,' 'non-judgmental,' and 'fully present.' I joked that each of these slogans would make great posters or bumperstickers!
Seriously, can you imagine being stuck in constant traffic. You pull up behind a car, fuming frustration at the waste of time to get from point A to point B. Suddenly you see the bumpersticker in front of you, “Fully Present.”
Wow, what a difference that could make on blood pressure, mood, and productive energy! But, I digress…
It struck me that Dr. Sanderson’s approach with these three key points in mind when addressing a challenge is in dramatic yet calming contrast to the knee-jerk extreme emotional reactions we tend to roll with when anxious about something.
Our discussion of the mindfulness tools Dr. Sanderson uses both with herself and within her work as a counselor offers tremendous value for those eager to become less stressed.
Walk-Through For Self-Publishing Your Book
I also asked Dr. Sanderson to walk through her process for writing her new book on decreasing anxiety. She shared from idea conception, writing practice, to promotion, publishing and launching her book.
As I'm writing several nonfiction books under the 'nurturing creativity and inspiration' umbrella, to self-publish those soon on Amazon (and build courses based on them), it was fun to hear how Dr. Sanderson worked through her first book publishing process.
She also shared her process for creating an audio version of her book (which is available on Audible), and a second book to be co-written with her husband is in progress.
In this digital age, the options to publish a book are vastly different from the era of traditional publishing. Dr. Sanderson and I talked about the different ways writers could potentially get their story out or offer value through a book.
Whether you're an author, aspiring writer, or a reader who appreciates good books, this part of our chat illuminates the self-publishing and creative process for writing a book.
LISTEN to EPISODE 1 HERE.
Tune in Tuesday, March 31 for Part 2 of 2 episodes of YourCreativeChord Podcast to hear my in-depth conversation with Dr. Tara Sanderson.
Please let me know in the comments which parts of this blog resonates most with you. Share your thoughts or ask a question! I'd love to hear from you about these intriguing topics, or any tips you'd like to share!
Read my blog reviewing Dr. Tara Sanderson's book here:
How To Decrease Your Anxiety & Live More Mindfully; An Empathetic Perfectionist Helps You Balance Your Life
Checkout Dr. Tara Sanderson's new book, "Too Much, Not Enough A guide to decreasing anxiety and finding balance through intentional choices."
Find Dr. Tara Sanderson on Twitter Instagram Facebook and through her website, https://www.drtarasanderson.com
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
It's easy for any of us to be defeated by our problems. Whether they are big or small doesn't matter. They're our problems and because of that, they can seem tailor-designed to knock us down.
Someone recently asked me how to overcome their problems. Regardless of specifics, when faced with difficulty, having the attitude to work toward a solution or win victory, is the first step to creating forward momentum.
I praised this person for having the desire to find a way through their challenges.
The Buddhist philosophy I practice has taught me that struggles are actually precious treasures to appreciate. We can actually use them as stepping stones to deeper happiness, solid inner strength and an awakening to our inherent wisdom. All this personal expansion leads to experiencing a rich, more fulfilled life.
The conversation with the person who asked for my help reminded me that I need to repeatedly polish my attitude and actions toward the challenges in my life.
I've learned that developing a determined spirit to win over difficulties is powerful. No matter what the problem is, having that spirit to keep fighting is itself the key to victory. It’s when we lose hope, or stop believing in our vast potential to achieve or transform anything, that problems get the better of us.
There are many things we can do to deal with our problems. But without the mindset toward winning ultimate victory, the results may prove less than satisfactory.
In other words, we can take plenty of action, but if we still hold doubt in our hearts about ourselves or our desired positive outcome, we diminish our results.
You Get Stronger Through Challenging A Problem
If we first work on strengthening the attitude behind our actions, we stand a greater chance of overcoming the problem or reaching a goal. Actions we take are only part of the solution or winning strategy.
Equally as valuable is the inner strength we forge by enduring the problem state.
As long as we resolve never to give up on ourselves, every problem actually can serve as a springboard toward improving ourselves and our quality of life. Building a strong inner intent ultimately manifests in taking wise action. This is the basis for creating a happier environment, and advancing our personal growth.
Plus, the added perk of solving our problem.
Be Like Einstein; Stay Longer
There’s an Einstein quote I love that goes, "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
Problems can function as beneficial to our lives because they push us into the proverbial corner until we learn to strengthen our belief in the unlimited potential within ourselves and humanity.
Problems can force us to work harder to mine that golden potential. Perhaps if we didn't experience our difficulties, we'd never make the kind of effort necessary to uncover our full abilities.
The fact is that we all have problems. Our capacity to overcome these is infinite. And by winning over them, we give others incredible hope to do the same.
Let's continue seeking ways to overcome our problems. In that sense, we are already winning.
By the way, my photo essay, How To Use Difficulties To Inspire Appreciation & Creativity, touches on this same point. I hope it encourages you and others reading this!
Thank you for showing your love of my content with a LIKE or by sharing this blog with others. Leave your comment or ask a question below.
Even When We're Derailed
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
As a new online course creator, blogger and podcaster finishing two short nonfiction ebooks for piano learners, while caregiving for my 80-year Mom, I'm learning to juggle a lot.
Most of it's new to me.
My journey as a creator is a struggle to overcome life-long patterns of anxiety, challenge the new, balance my family responsibilities, and keep my creative fires burning.
Can you relate?
My goal is to launch my first online course for new or returning piano learners on how to practice piano effectively in April 2020. I've announced this goal originally for January and February—and missed my target dates. Wish you could see my face.
I'm disappointed in myself for that.
I didn't want to share that with anyone, either.
Why Sharing Our Vulnerability And Failures Is Important
But I decided this is actually a great lesson for practicing authenticity and developing self-compassion.
By being honest and transparent here, I'm showing myself and you how important it is that we share our vulnerability, our seeming failures—and still keep going no matter what.
The truth is we're all human. We all experience failures and setbacks. Hiding those away is antithetical to creative living. It's also counter to the reality that success often comes directly from failure.
Holding myself accountable publicly is a way to show myself that I can get back up on the horse. Even if I've fallen into the slop, and am covered in it, I can still get back up and try again.
There's a short video flying around social media of a little girl trying to mount a pony. The video shows her jumping up, falling down, grasping the pony's mane, slipping off, lunging forward, in multiple attempts to get on that pony. Over and over again, she fails.
It's remarkable to watch this child's attitude. She doesn't waver once. She just keeps trying. And she finally succeeds. Wow, the look on her face when she makes that glorious break-through is a monumental statement for having the never-give-up attitude!
Plans In The Works For Nurturing Creativity And Inspiration
I muster that little girl in myself to refresh my resolve. I'm determined to have my first online course and books for new and returning piano learners all rolling by early spring.
I'm also planning a course offering how to use nature and self-care based on spiritual optimism for overcoming blocks, and nurturing creativity and inspiration with a variety of activities.
I have another course on overcoming that negative inner critic planned next. And still another course about nontraditional memorial planning.
I also have an idea percolating about creating a community for those interested in nurturing creativity and inspiration, but that's after my products, books and courses are established...
I'm now editing podcasts featuring interviews with wonderful artists of all kinds. Those are phenomenal sources of inspiration, as these wonderful creators share their creative practices and personal stories.
I've designed some beautiful new products, featuring nature immersion and self-care affirmations! From notecards, journals, posters, pillows, puzzles, playing cards, coffee and tea mugs, T-shirts, kitchen and bath towels, these products are a splash of nature's energy with inspirational messages. I think you'll love everything! (See photo and video on this page for a sneak peak of a few notecards.) Click here to explore my new products designed for nurturing creativity and inspiration!
Creativity Integrates Many Moving Parts
The balance between my creative output while learning and doing the technical and administrative parts of launching my online business as a new creativepreneur is an ongoing, steep climb.
Some days I want to hurl my computer out the window!
But I'm getting better at it!
All my upcoming products, books and courses are completely in sync with how I roll as a creator and in line with how YourCreativeChord harmonizes many moving parts. Like an ocean contains many kinds of waves. Peaceful, subtle, flowing, roaring, crashing, stormy. It’s all part of the same beautiful ocean.
I juggle multiple ideas and skills constantly. I think this is how most people function. But sometimes we forget how varied our creative outlets may be! We also forget how these diverse interests and skills function to replenish our creative juices!
You may have noticed my focus is on piano right now. That's because my current priorities are to get my course and both books for piano learners on Amazon.
I want to empower those interested in expanding their creative flow through piano playing! I have so much piano experience, I can help many people embark on a joyful journey of piano progress!
Once that's underway, I'll be tackling the other courses, with books, and of course, regular blogs and podcasts, too.
ACHIEVING VICTORY OVER--SCRATCH THAT--BECAUSE OF OBSTACLES
You'll always get new content each Tuesday (and sometimes Thursdays). I've spent this year getting weekly blogs and podcasts to you while building systems to launch my upcoming products, books and courses.
I'm packing in as much value for you as possible, whether it's a blog, podcast, a short video, my upcoming new books, products or course!
I'm sharing this with you because everything I do as a blogger, composer, writer, poet, visual designer, nature photographer, creator-with-a-capital-C embodies what YourCreativeChord offers:
My mission as an artist is to lead, by example, through my creative strategies, achieving victory over obstacles and fulfilling my life's greatest potential.
Even if I get derailed, or slowed down, by life's difficulties, or tackling new stuff as an entrepreneur, I will never give up. I will deepen my determination to show victory as an artist for peace.
That’s what creativity is about:
I recently listened to the audiobook, The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday. It was perfect timing for me to recognize that a new challenge, problem or obstacle is not just something to "overcome."
Rather, I learned through this wonderful book that it is precisely because of difficulties that I'm able to tap capability, ingenuity, determination, resilience and wisdom that would otherwise lie dormant. The obstacles we each face become the way to greater creative flow, stronger conviction, and more committed action!
EXPANDING COMMUNITY & COLLABORATION
By the way, I've just updated my website HOME and ABOUT pages with a call-to-action for any bloggers or podcasters to interview me or collaborate. If you know of anyone interested in creativity, piano, personal development, wellness, or caregiving, please share this with them!
I'm on a mission to expand my community and collaborate with more creative and inspirational people!
You can definitely support me by sharing this with your social media or forwarding to a friend by email!
Thanks for keeping me accountable!
Join the conversation by sharing a comment with me below, or connect with me on social media using the icons below! ^_^
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
If I could go back in time to speak to myself in my youth, or, if there’s one thing I could say to those remaining after I’m gone, the message would be, “Don’t waste your time being afraid.”
Fear has been the one internal opponent that has slowed me down, held me back, or blocked my ideas and actions. Not external obstacles or misfortunes, but this inner voice of anxiety.
In the past 2 years, I’ve started living Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice to do something everyday that scares me. I’ve learned it’s liberating to challenge myself to experience new things, ideas or experiences, or go for higher, different goals as a way to grow my courage overall.
But I’ve also learned that getting to the root of fear is hugely important.
The inner energy of my intent or feeling while taking action makes a powerful impact on the outcome.
It is important to act. Yes, do that.
But go deeper. Look at that fear. Deal with that emotion. Get to the core of it. Spell it out. Analyze it. Ask yourself what you’re afraid of.
Once you get to the root of that fear and dissect it, you find clarity. When you see clearly what your fear is based on, you can use reason to counter each fear.
Let’s use an example:
I’m launching my new online business. This new venture requires that I learn things I’ve never done. That alone has caused me fear.
But when I look at that fear through the lens of reason, I find it’s absolutely reasonable to feel fear simply because this is a new experience for me. Things we haven’t challenged before often naturally make us anxious.
This helps me see my fear as normal for my situation. This viewpoint relaxes me and diminishes my fear. I feel calmer and a bit proud that I’m pushing myself into new things and beyond my comfort zone.
One way to decrease fear is to acknowledge your courage in taking on new endeavors, in pushing yourself to feel the fear and take action anyway. It’s important to take a moment to celebrate that kind of victory. Celebrations of personal accomplishment are also a strong deterrent to feeling fearful!
As a new entrepreneur, and a highly sensitive person with OCD tendencies, I have many things that make me feel anxious. I start a cascade of inner questions to myself:
As a new business owner, the stress can seem relentless and unending. But by getting all my worries in focus in front of me, I can begin to break things down into a clear plan with my critical priorities mapped out.
I'm learning that having all my fears written down allows me a chance to face each one and brainstorm a solution for it. Next, I brainstorm ideas for a contingency plan in case my first solution doesn't work or something else happens to derail it. Sometimes this process enlightens me to a need to re-prioritize or shift my plans to accommodate additional issues and/or time.
Keeping my daily plan and inner intent in line with these priorities allows my mind to find ease, knowing I’m actively addressing everything necessary for reaching my goals. One of the most powerful anecdotes to any fear is taking concrete action. Taking action based on a plan through which I've faced my fears puts me back in the driver's seat of my life and my business success.
How To Get Back Up After A Failure
But, yes, sometimes I flat-out fail to reach goals. Or, I get out of rhythm with my priorities. Sometimes, I start spiraling into a downward stress mode where insomnia rears its head. I get run-down, and out of whack.
Yes, other personal, family or health issues distract my focus or throw me for a loop. I’m human.
When any of this happens--and things will happen--I get back to self-care basics. I refresh my determination. I refresh my determination again. And again. I go back to review my fears and center myself on my values.
As an entrepreneur, and hell, as a human being, I’m learning that it’s not a straight line to happiness and success. Rather, it’s a dramatic, magnificent drama with these crazy, off-the-beaten-path excursions, unexpected adventures, and hurdles that appear from out of nowhere. It’s heavy storms and strong gales of unforeseen problems that completely drench and knock me down into the sloppy mud.
That’s the story.
That’s the part of life that creates the dynamic arch of climactic engagement. It’s also the fuel for catalytic flow to unleash new, fresh, robust, colorful creative juice that leads to a view of an amazing, vast vista.
That new vista is a vision of your joyful fulfillment and the start of a new chapter for previously unimaginable victories.
But, this up-and-down, twisty, turning story cannot emerge without dealing head-on with fear, or without hitting plateaus of illusive limitations that cause you to rear back or stop dead in your tracks.
These obstacles force you to take three steps back, like the lion prepares an attack on his prey, to regroup. Assess. Take care of your inner world. Do whatever you need to refresh yourself and rebuild your inner fortitude.
Then, you may lunge forward, with all your might. That momentum gained from ripping out each fear by their roots will propel you forward in a way that you’ve not experienced until this moment.
Fear makes you face your problems to break through your self-imposed limitations so you may unleash your massive, unlimited, creative, beautiful human potential.
Fear makes you better yourself, both for your own happiness and for others in your life.
I’m learning that for every negative emotion, problem or experience, there is a positive. A way to convert whatever it is into value, inner strength and a source for deeper personal growth and wider progress.
It all goes back to nurturing creativity and inspiration, based on self-care. When we truly do the things that are beneficial for ourselves, we spur positive health, creative energy and the inner qualities we need to improve ourselves and for others.
How Dealing With Your Fear Buoys Your Success
That’s why I’m becoming grateful for my bouts with fear.
After wholeheartedly, directly wrestling with my fear, I find that interaction miraculously morphs into a kind of bearhug, leading me to a moment of gratitude.
This shift is an amazing metamorphosis that allows me a more informed view of my true self and my situation. I feel a burst of powerful confidence, with the strength to go after my goals with clear action.
This mood change propels the reach of my actions. The energy behind my actions grows more confident, joyful, compassionate, deliberate and resilient.
This personal development process reveals how dealing with fear buoys powerful action toward success and growth.
When you see fear as a part of your necessary growth process, it has the potential to be your friend. Fear becomes your guiding voice of wisdom to do the things you must do for a richer, happier life.
So let’s embrace our fears. Addressing our fear is the way to successful, enlightened living.
COMING SOON: Watch this space for new ebooks, products and courses for nurturing creativity and inspiration!
In my INSPIRATION blogs, you’ll find ways to overcome obstacles, reach goals, and experience more joy in the moment with spiritual awareness and inner transformation.