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Discernment has been such a THEME around me lately, that I decided it is worthy of a post.

BACKGROUND STORY-

I spent the last weekend helping my mum go through the closets and drawers of her 4 bedroom home of 20+ years to decide what was worthy of keeping as they streamline into a 1 bedroom home. What a process!

But the truth was that at least 75% of the clothes in the closet, and the VHS tapes, and the stuff in the garage, and the books on the bookshelf were NOT needed/wanted!
This could be seen a few different ways:
1.) She should have done a deep Spring cleaning every year.
2.) Americans have way too much stuff and it’s ridiculous.
3.) She should have been more discerning of what she bought in the 1st place.

Though they are all somewhat true and interesting, especially #3. Perhaps if we have higher standards we will surround ourselves with more quality but less quantity. Perhaps if we know what we Really want in life, we will be less easily convinced of the merits of so many (extraneous) things.

I think we could all practice more discernment about the FOOD we put into our bodies, the CARE PRODUCTS we cram into our bathroom cupboards, the TV SHOWS & MOVIES we put into our minds, the CLOTHES we buy because they are on sale and kind of cute (but don’t end up wearing), the PRODUCTS that sound good at the time but we know we won’t really get around to using…

EXAMPLES

I have a client currently going through all his collections, possessions, and all the art he has produced in the last 25 years. His task is to discern the treasures from the junk.

I have another client who is realizing she needs to cut some social connections out of her life that are draining and distracting her from her stated priorities. Her challenge is to discern true allies from flashy distractions.

The internet is the biggest bundle of exciting, stimulating, overwhelmingly distracting endless tunnels of information that humans have ever had to reckon with. If you don’t come to the search engine with a clear query, you can bounce all over checking out cool stuff and realize that hours went by just ‘surfing’. All of us have the challenge of discerning what Content (in books, newspapers, tv, & internet) is actually worth our time.

So, a few TIPS if you are sorting through anything in your life, from contacts to stuff… Ask Yourself:
* Do I truly Love this?
* Does this in any way help me get towards my biggest goals?
* Would I miss this if it disappeared?

And if the answer is No— help it find a new home!

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What do desks and altars have in common?

I have kept an altar in my room since the age of 17. On it I have many beautiful representations of what I see as sacred, profound, and divine. It is a spiritual anchor in my room even if only as a visual reminder. During the period when I was meditating daily, I would sit every morning first thing in front of my altar and center myself in this practice. Thus the altar was associated with introspection and connection to something greater than my chatty mind.

It occurs to me that the person praying at their altar and an artist setting up at their easel to paint and an entrepreneur at their desk working are all engaged in much the same thing. They are using the visual cues and physical features of a specific space to help them to focus their energies.

MEDITATOR               CENTERS SELF                AT ALTAR
ARTIST                         CENTERS SELF                AT CANVAS
PROFESSIONAL        CENTERS SELF                AT DESK/WORK SPACE

So let’s focus on the workspace or desk as an altar to efficiency and inspired success in our work. Besides the obvious elements of computer, pens, files, staplers, etc… what can we surround this space with that will help us stay connected to the deeper motivation behind our work?

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SOME VISUAL ANCHORS to consider putting in YOUR WORK SPACE:
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* Your MISSION STATEMENT, Life Purpose, or Artist Statement– This summary of your essential commitment underlying your work can serve as a profound reminder of why you are hacking away at your to-do list.

* Your GOALS– I have noticed a huge difference in my realization of goals since I have started writing them out clearly in bold pen and hanging them up to see on a daily basis.(Picture below is of a template I created for this purpose, which I am happy to give you- just email me at muse at catalystarts.com and I will send it to you)

Goal template created by Audette Sophia of Catalyst Arts

* Your VISION BOARD or a Bulletin Board– A vision board is a collage or what you are creating in your life for the coming year (6 months, 3 years, fill in time period) I will dedicate another post to the process of making a vision board, and I teach workshops on that topic. I will include a picture of mine as an example. I also have a bulletin board in my office that I use as an inspiration board and to put key flyers, cards, etc… on. If the work you do at your desk is mainly just to bring in money, then make a little visual reminder of what you are making/saving money for.

vision board


* PICTURES of  ROLE MODELS & or your CHILDREN
– to remind you who’s shoulders you are standing on, and who will stand on yours. Hang up a picture of anyone who exemplifies grace and success and will inspire you just by seeing them. This can also be a place to hang up an image of Christ or the Buddha, or the Earth, or any spiritual symbol that touches you. (They are role models too after all)

* SYMBOLS of PROSPERITY & SUCCESS– Surround yourself with a couple tasteful objects that represent these things for you. In feng shui they say that purple and gold are good colors to put in your Prosperity Corner, as well as succulent plants and round objects.

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It certainly can’t hurt to put more intentional and beautiful things in your work space, and it may just work a little practical magic and bring more of the profound into the mundane and more of your deeper motivation into your daily action.

To Your Success!

We all know how it feels to fumble our way through a vague jumble of to-do’s and get distracted, get some little things done, and at the end of the day wonder what we actually accomplished.

In contrast to that, how good it feels to be crystal clear on your priorities, have all tasks organized and listed, and to blaze through the list with efficiency.
Since time is a very precious resource, can we afford to be disorganized and ineffective?

SOME POINTS about EFFICIENCY

* PRIORITIZATION IS KEY for acting efficiently. Take the time to assess your list and determine an order of priority. Use Color coding, Stars, or a special box on your To Do List page to indicate which items are to be acted upon first. Tackle the most important and/or most difficult tasks first thing in the morning when you are sharpest, and it will set a great tone for the rest of the day.

*Have a MAP or MASTER PLAN. In visual or written form this big picture document can be a reference point to return to when we get distracted and veer off track. I have a vision board in my home office that I can look at, as well as my mission statement and a Master Plan word document on my computer.

* Your ability to GET STUFF DONE is strengthened by working your  ACTION and DISCIPLINE MUSCLES. To support this, I highly suggest developing and maintaining a daily practice (could by physical like running or yoga, spiritual like mediation or creative like writing). Even 15 minutes a day of any practice can help us greatly to get used to taking action weather or not we are ‘in the mood’. This is also a way to balance out our do do do work orientation with a non mental practice, and the byproduct is that we are practicing discipline which will spill over into the mental sphere too.

* STREAMLINE OPERATIONS by clearing space and getting rid of unessential objects, projects, and clutter. Clear and organize files on your computer every couple months.

* Being a sleek effective person who knows what they want and gets stuff done not only leads to more Success, but hey… its SEXY!

THINGS THAT ENHANCE EFFICIENCY:

* Good Systems

* Good Time Management

* Clarity and Planning

* Delegating & Teamwork

* Focus w/out distractions

TOOLS and SOFTWARE RESOURCES
that have been helping me streamline and up my time/task management game.

RESEARCH– R&D is a big part of the initial phase of almost any project. We need to research when exploring career options, getting a new apartment, writing an article or book, or looking for places online to promote our work.

Microsoft Word Notebook Documents-
This template is in all MS Word from 2004 on. To find it go to Project Gallery under File and then click on ‘Word Notebook’. You will get a blank document with multiple tabs on the right side. This way you can gather a lot of varied information related to your topic into one document. For EXAMPLE, I am writing this blog post in my Blog Topics notebook, and there are tabs for “Topics & Ideas”, “In Progress”, “Already Posted”, and “Radar Screen”. It’s easy to add, delete, and rename tabs as you go along. Using notebooks for any topic that is more multi-dimensional than flat leads to more streamlined virtual filing systems and less overwhelm.

Evernote- http://www.evernote.com
I absolutely love this tool and have been using it a lot lately. (It was tool #9 in my inspired productivity tools series.) Once you download it for free, its small icon lives at the top right of your screen and you can use it to get screenshots of sites relevant to your research. You can also add tags to keep it organized, and put the source url so you can easily return to that site (easier than bookmarking). For EXAMPLE, I am developing an educational branch to Catalyst Arts and exploring local organizations to partner with to bring the program to low-income youth. So here is a screenshot of my evernote notebook with c.a. education program tags.

Evernote_EducationProgram

What Else?? What helps you to act efficiently?

This is a very special Sunday coming up- it is Chinese New Year(Year of the Tiger), Tibetan New Year, and Valentines Day!

This year I got inspired to create this collage to offer up. Use it as you like. Send along to those you love.

I am not generally that enthusiastic on the Valentines bandwagon, as there is so much pretense and cheese and chocolate coated baggage associated with it.
That said- a day set aside to celebrate LOVE is a great idea. Really, if we expand beyond the romantic sphere and just affirm ALL the FORMS that LOVE takes in our lives and give affirmation and gratitude to this— it can only grow.

So my wish is that you truly give thanks— for your partner/lover if you have one, for yourself, for your cat, dog, mother, child, friends, angels, and any other place you receive the gift of Love from.

It truly is a precious gift.

Cheers to Love and Cheers to You.

🙂

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:

I have MOVED this BLOG over to my own server and IT CAN NOW BE FOUND AT:

http://www.catalystarts.com/blog/

Please visit that site and bookmark it if you would like, or sign up for the Museletter

Thanks!

Audette Sophia

New & Improved Catalyst Arts Blog

Here is the new & improved Catalyst Arts Blog

Art can change your Life- art nouveu poster

I have been a quote junkie since I was a teenager. Here are a couple of handfuls of good quotes from my collection. Do you have any favorite arts quotes? If you have a lot of creative friends, you can print these up onto nice paper and give them out to them, or to complete strangers.:)

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” –Pablo Picasso


“…art is not just ornamental, an enhancement of life, but a path in itself, a way out of the predictable and conventional, a map to self discovery.”
– Gabrielle Roth
“Art is neither a profession or a hobby. Art is a way of being.” -Frederick Franck

“For creative beings (and we are all creative beings) experience is only half of an experience. We experience life and then digest it by making something out of the experience. Creativity makes life useful to us. It also makes us useful to life.” – Julia Cameron

“A concerto is a cake is a sculpture is a scrapbook is a sonnet is a sweater. There is no difference between the human impulses behind one act of creation and another. The distinctions between “good” and “bad” quality or “high” and “low” art don’t’ really exist. There’s only creation, and the joy that comes with it.” – Sandra Magsamer

“All arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life.” -M.C. Richard

“Art is the kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purpose through him.”
-Carl Jung

“Inspiration is our contact with the divine, our ability to access the interconnected and energetic nature of life. Expression is our desire to give form to our experience of the divine.” -Tom Crockett

“The sterility of the bourgeois world will end in suicide or a new form of creative participation.” – Octoavio Paz

“Inspiration cuts through the cultural trance suspending the prescribed goals and expectations of this conditioned cultural mindscape so that alternative realities and solutions may be perceived.” – Philip Rubinov-Jacobson

“By descending down into the depths of the soul, and not primarily by a painful acquisition of many manual skills, the artist attains the power of awakening other souls.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We recognized the role of imagination and ritual that is shared between contemporary psychotherapies and all ancient traditions. It was also evident that the arts are the bridging existential phenomena that unite ritual, imagination and dream-world in a way that no other activity can do.” -Paulo Knill

“Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” -William Plomer

“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” -Henry David Thorou

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Want more infusions of Inspiration??
Sign up for the MuseLetter & get a Free Promotion & Productivity Resource Package- http://www.catalystarts.com

IDEAS ————————————————————————————>> ACTION

I am surrounded by amazing visionaries who talk about such brilliant ideas all the time. I love inspired visionaries and will be one myself for my whole life. Yet I’m noticing that lately my deeper respect goes more to those who have ACTED on their ideas and have something TANGIBLE to show from them.

I’m gearing up to teach a workshop next week called Get your $h*t Together- a hands on action accelerator for artists. So I’ve been focusing on what gets in the way of us acting on our ideals and ideas and inspirations, and also what helps support us to act. Here is one of the lists.

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THINGS THAT HELP US to ACT and MANIFEST

CLARITY
CLEAR PRIORITIZATION
PLANNER/CALENDAR
LEADERSHIP, CATALYST, COACH, ACCOUNTABILITY
INSPIRATION & EXCITEMENT
ENCOURAGEMENT
EXTERNAL SUPPORT STRUCTURES- like school, workshops, training programs, like minded groups, etc…
TIME MANAGEMENT- Designing a time structure based on true priorities
ORGANIZATION- GOOD SYSTEMS
SELF-DISCIPLINE, DAILY PRACTICE- consistent effort
BLUEPRINTS- STRATEGY- OVERVIEW MAPS- ACTION PLANS
PASSION/FIRE/INTRINSIC MOTIVATION
MONEY & RESOURCES
ACCOUNTABILITY & SUPPORT
COLLABORATION/TEAMWORK/COMMUNITY
SURRENDER & PRAYER & CONNECTION TO SOURCE
MAGIC

What Else?? What helps you??

Rounding out this Series of 10 ‘Inspired Productivity Tools’

TOOL #8-
STICKIES or POSTICA

A great freeware tool that I use regularly is the computer equivalent of those little colored Sticky Notes. You can download it for free for mac or PC and then create as many notes as you want for various little snippets of info. You can color code the notes too. With Postica you can add images into the note and email them to yourself or others.

http://www.posti.ca/

TOOL #9-
EVERNOTEwww.evernote.com

This is a really great meta tool for keeping all the little snippets of interesting content in one place so you can remember it, organize it and utilize it in the future. You can email a note to yourself or someone else. Good when you stumble across a site you really want to keep tabs on, but you kow just bookmarking it won’t do the trick (how often do we really go through all our bookmarks?) Evernote it.

EXAMPLE Below is a screenshot clip taken in Evernote of my Evernote User Window.

evernoteclip

TOOL #10-

TA-DA LISTS– http://www.tadalist.com/

For those To Do List Junkies out there… here is an easy online to do list that helps you keep track of your List or create multiple lists. When you check something off your list, you can still see it in a lighter color, so you can track your progress.

FABULOUS BONUS  TOOL-
(this one is more about enjoyment than productivity)

PANDORA FREE INTERNET RADIO
http://pandora.com

Create a Radio Station based off of any favorite song, artist or album! It will introduce you to similar music and is a great way to get exposed to new artists. Great for people addicted to discovering new music. I play my pandora radio stations lately more than my own Itunes!

pandora

There are so many people seeking work right now. Whatever label you want to put on our current economic situation, one of its undeniable effects has been many out of work, leading to many seeking work.

Though I am a certified career coach, these tips are not just general intellectual ideas. They have been extracted from the lessons I learned these last few months during my own job search process. (After spending the Winter in Asia I came back to California and had to dive into manifesting a couple of day jobs to pay the bills while I keep progressing towards my big goals)

So- here they are.

1.    Intentionally target your ideal work situation and pursue them even if they have no Job Listings.

The truth is that most jobs are filled via “internal” connections within an organization before they ever get posted to the public. (internal meaning the friends, family and colleagues of those already working at the company) By the time a job gets posted on Craigslist or a job board, job site, or in the newspaper, it becomes victim to an overwhelming pile of resumes. Due to this huge load of qualified and overqualified resumes, your chances of standing out are pretty slim. So try another approach altogether. Ask yourself who you really want to work for and what you want to do. Choose what you have the most qualifications or the most passion for and get as specific as possible about your ideal job situation. Then do your research and single out a small group of target jobs and gather relevant information about the company and people in leadership. If possible, deliver your resume in person and make a friendly positive impression on anyone and everyone you meet during the process. Perhaps they have a position opening up in the near future, or are open to hearing what you have to offer. In any case, you have shown yourself to be pro-active and flattered them by choosing them specifically, so you have already set yourself well apart from the majority of the competition.

2.    If you can’t find a job, Create one.

If you get depressed looking at the list of available jobs and feel like you would not fit into any of them, then maybe you should try custom making a job to suite you. There are many ways you can go about creating a job. As is often true, the only limit is your imagination. Some Possibilities:  Volunteer for your favorite organization and offer to creatively fundraise to pay for your salary. Propose a position for yourself and then make it risk free by offering to work the position for a period of time for free to let them feel the benefits it will generate. Turn a hobby into a side job. Teach a class or workshop in something that you love/are good at. Basically, look for needs and opportunities everywhere and then get creative.

3.    Create a simple Follow-Up System.

It is very easy to attach a resume to an email and hope for the best. But it is relatively rare to be organized and persistent enough to actually follow-up. This is an easy place to set your self apart from the masses. Example of a very simple system: Create a Follow-Up List on your desk, and document the relevant info about the position you applied for and date you applied. Then schedule 2 or 3 follow-up communications in the week or two following your initial application. You want to be persistent in a friendly way and not become a nuisance. There are software applications and calendars, and phones and coaches and friends and many possible elements to utilize in customizing a system that works for you. Get creative in making your own follow-up system- and make sure to use it!

What about you? Any useful tips you have gleaned from your own experience?

I love movies. I tend to be picky and have strong opinions as to weather they are contributing to the ultimate betterment of the human species or harming it.
I rarely want to just rave about a movie though, and Pixar’s latest masterpiece makes me want to do just that.

First of all, the Short they played previous to the feature film was an absolutely hilarious and cute little film about clouds creating various babies for storks to carry to the expecting mom’s below. It of course had a twist to make it funny. The whole audience had already laughed heartily before the main film even started. clever…

Anyway, some reasons why I thought that UP was a Brilliant movie:

* Great Characters- truly unique (which is hard to do at this stage in the game)
* Some stellar writing and hilarious lines woven in throughout
* A plot that is compelling on its own and profound if looked at as a metaphor
* Has a great message (or many)
* Some quirky unexpected out of left field ideas
* Leaves you feeling warm/fuzzy and glad to be alive

The critics and reviews seem to agree with me. Here is one review:

Up is a marvel of a movie which will enchant cinemagoers around the world and remain a family favourite for decades to come. A highpoint of ingenuity and storytelling in the Pixar canon and indeed the animated form…

So if you want to see an Uplifting movie… go see UP.