A “Honey in Your Heart” conversation with mary anne radmacher

In honor of Honey in Your Heart, the latest jewel in mary anne radmacher’s outrageously creative and prolific career, I sat down with mary anne (yes, she’s a lower case girl) and had this delightful conversation. I asked her a few qustions about how life can be sweeter when we feast on the honey that is already there, in the only place it can be–our heart.

Janet: In Honey in Your Heart, you talk about “ways to see” being essential to creating space in the heart for life. And you offer us many ways to do just that. But I’m wondering, now that you’ve written the book, how has this awareness of seeing and creating space continued to expand for you? Have you stumbled upon any new and perhaps slightly surprising ways to see?

mary anne: After recording ( for a solid six months) every time I experienced a little, “Yay,” – that heart lift that occurs when something sweet has happened – I find I mentally note such things. I still DO write them down, but I don’t need the discipline of writing them down in order to see them. The awareness HAS expanded my capacity in a rather unexpected way. In the midst of challenge, or circumstances that feel as if they have gone “sideways” in an undesirable way, I am able to see the potential. The potential for joy, for good, for positive outcomes. Many of the long term YAYs in my life have come out of a short term YUCK. In a practical way, recognizing the truth of this – that goodness often comes out of circumstances that don’t feel or seem good – has given me a higher level of perseverance.

Janet: I love your call to celebrate. Our society has relegated celebrations to a few calendar holidays wrapped in obligation. Most of us forget to celebrate the morning, our kitchen, soft pajamas, hot water, a good book. Can you share a simple sweet celebration that meant a lot to you?

mary anne: I schedule one day, every once in awhile, that is just dedicated to FUN – CREATIVE – Just delightful to me – projects. I asked three of my buddies what their current favorite quote was. And then I incorporated that quote into a set of small notecards, packaged them up and put them in the mail. THAT is a sweet celebration that I love having in my days: being able to create something for someone I love for no other reason than they are worth celebrating.

Janet: My favorite aphorism in Honey in Your Heart is on p 21: “In the freshness of the dawn we see the truth, everything is possible.” I often wake with this excitement and knowing but I can lose it in a few minutes when I face my to-do list. I sense through this book and all your books, that you truly do rise in joy and possibility every morning. How do you do that?

mary anne: The truth of this answer is that I do wake MOST mornings with joy. There are many contributing factors to waking up with joy and anticipation.

Here are most of them:

I do my best to complete my top targeted items each day. I complete.

At the end of the day:

I make a list of targeted completions for the following day. I live with intention.

I forgive myself for any shortcomings, acts of commission or omission and I say good bye to the day. I let go.

I make conscious nutritional food choices. I nurture myself.

I move, or dance or sing. I create. I contribute to my health and vitality.

I do at least one expected thing for someone else. I serve.

I contact one person I love, admire or am friends with. I connect.

On the days that I do not include most of the things on this list … I wake up absent joy.

Janet: The one that made me laugh out loud is “I didn’t know I couldn’t, so I did.” There is such bliss in not knowing that something is “impossible” and then waking up and you’ve done it! What new and “impossible” things are you doing?

mary anne: Due to a host of complexities, I have reinvented my lifetime body of work and have a brand new professional affiliation to make my cards and paper inspirations available in the world. (And that is: http://wp.appliedinsight.net) In addition to creating fresh and unexpected work, I have accepted the role of Art Director. I now work with other artists to bring their best work to the world. It’s like being a creative mid-wife. So, after 28 years of doing a single art element one way in the world, I am blossoming at all kinds of artistic levels. In a lot of ways it feels as if these last years were practice! Ah. Everything is practice, isn’t it? Practice at being the fullest and best of who we are.

Janet: This book is such a call to walk life with a light trusting step and a sweet happy heart. Taking in your words and looking at your pictures, I feel that honey, that sweetness, oozing off the pages and into my heart. And if I’m feeling that way, then you must be soaring. What effect is this book having on you? What honey is continuing to flow?

mary anne: It’s interesting, Janet, that you ask in this way. There has been a most surprising outcome of connecting at such a deep level to the joy and sweetness in my days. It’s an immediate and profound capacity to recognize when NOT to allow the honey to flow. One of my natural gifts is generosity. I’ve demonstrated an innate impulse to give since before I could speak.

And with every gift, there is a downside. Or said another way, there is a spectrum of expression of any quality, skill or gift. I am now more inclined to graciously step away from circumstances, events and people whose priorities do not serve my vision. Notice I don’t say their priorities are incorrect. They are simply theirs, and different from mine. I become increasingly unwilling to compromise my work and vision with actions, activities and people that are counter-productive to what I’m doing. I used to incorporate compromise and accommodation into my daily systems…and now, holding to the sweetness of my days and intention to walk life full of joy and purpose…I am more likely to gratefully acknowledge the role, at one time, that such elements played in my life and learning… and move on. I let go and lean forward!

So – for the sake of the greater outcomes, it’s become important that in some instances the “honey” of my life NOT flow. Or be invited or allowed to flow in a different direction.

Honey in Your Heart is available anywhere books are sold. Here’s a link to Amazon, Indie Bound


How do you manage high creativity?

Today, I am honored to share an excerpt from Gail McMeekin’s new book, 12 Secrets of Highly Successful Women. Gail has been a guest expert for four seasons now on my creativity course, Plug In for Writers. This past summer, she was also the guest expert on creativity on the brand new course, Plug In for Expressive Souls. Gail is a true expert in the field of creativity. No one has interviewed more successful creative women. I rely on Gail for wisdom and practical, practical, practical steps.

When she asked me to be a part of the blog tour, I jumped in. She gave me several excerpts to choose from, but this one yelled, “Choose Me!” I laughed. I’m one highly creative soul juggling a wild array of new books, courses, articles, and marketing programs. So I NEED this article!

Excerpt from 12 Secrets of Highly Successful Women
By Gail McMeekin

MANAGING HIGH CREATIVITY

Highly creative women often have special aptitudes that give rise to creative

intelligence, a superior ability for innovative thinking and application. In today’s

marketplace, our ability to think differently about problems and solve them with

original and novel solutions is a key to success. Highly creative women can have

problems if they don’t see themselves or their abilities clearly. In my experience,

some of the strengths and necessary talents of highly creative women can also be

their downfall if not managed well. This book is meant to be a guide to help you to

leverage your abilities and counter these potential pitfalls. These would include:

  • Being overly sensitive and therefore too thin-skinned to be out in the world much
  • Ambivalence about money and therefore being afraid or uncomfortable charging what they deserve
  • Intuitive—getting wrapped up too much in other people’s life decisions, which distract the highly creative woman from her own life
  • Divergent thinking—going from project to project—too many ideas at the same time can be overwhelming and make it difficult to focus
  • Independence—being afraid/disinclined to ask for emotional support and business help when they need it
  • Severely critical—perfectionism can be paralyzing and prevent highly creative women from ever releasing their completed work into the world or finishing projects at all

CHALLENGE

Spend some time this month “remembering” what captivates you about your work

and renew your vows.

  • Non-conforming—being scapegoated by others for being too far “out there” and not following enough protocol to successfully do business in this world—can lead to isolation and loneliness
  • Not completely confident—having damaged self-esteem or lack of expertise in certain skill areas that they may need to learn or to delegate to others
  • Can be workaholics and ignore their own needs for self—nurturance, serenity and relaxation
  • Need for solitude—the highly successful woman must honor this and negotiate with partners and family
  • Can make simple things complex due to a long list of internal comfort criteria
  • Sad—often feel that they haven’t met their potential or realized their dreams for this life
  • Fear of being who they really are and telling the truth about it and risking disapproval
  • Feeling guilty about not having chosen a traditional career path with job security, a pension, and securing people’s understanding of what they do
  • Feeling confused by having too many interests and not knowing what to specialize in
  • Fear of rejection as being unbearable and something from which they won’t recover
  • Fear that pursuing their creative work will hurt the ones they love
  • Being labeled by others as a risk taker or being hesitant to take the necessary risks to succeed

Fortunately, there are remedies for all of these issues, and this book is your guide

to creative success and peace of mind. Most of these creative liabilities are also

strengths, but you must learn how to capitalize on them and redesign your strategies

of being in the world.

Thank you, Gail for your research, your wisdom, your creativity, and your excerpt. We are blessed to be a part of your world. Janet Conner

Readers: You can visit Gail at Creative Success and get a signed copy of her book. Or ask for it at your favorite bookstore. You can also get Gail’s newest book at Amazon.

Want more? Here’s Gail’s whole blog tour.

 

November 29th – Better Yet Bookshelf  http://betteryetbooks.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/honoring-inspiration-gail-mcmeekin/

December 1st – Gut Truster’s Blog  http://lynnrobinson.com/gut-trusters-blog/managing-ideaphoria-by-gail-mcmeekin-of-creative-success/  (Lynn Robinson)

December 2nd – Jenna Avery  http://jennaavery.com/creativesuccess  (Jenna Avery)

December 3rd – Tranquility du Jour  http://blog.kimberlywilson.com/2011/12/blog-tour-la-fave-author.html (Kimberly Wilson)

December 4th – Jamie Ridler Studios  http://jamieridlerstudios.ca/creative-successful-women (Jamie Ridler)

December 5th – Penguin Tales  http://penguinart.com/blog/  (Kate Garchinsky)

December 6th – Life Work Transitions  http://www.lifeworktransitions.com/blog/  (Deborah Knox)

December 7th – Beth Tunis  http://www.bethtunistherapy.com/  (Beth Tunis)

December 8th – Writing Down Your Soul   https://janetconner.wordpress.com/ (Janet Conner)

December 9th – I Am Fully Alive  http://www.iamfullyalive.com/ (Olga Aura)

December 10th – Marilyn Tam  http://www.marilyntam.com/gift.aspx (Marilyn Tam)

December 12 – A Room of Her Own (Darlene Chandler Bassett)

http://www.aroomofherownfoundation.org/

December 13th  – Leading Remarkable Women to Uncommon Success http://janepollakblog.com/  (Jane Pollak)

December 14th – The Attention Factor http://blog.theattentionfactor.com/  (Alice March)

December 15th – Wise Well Women www.wisewellwomen.com (Nanette Saylor)

December 16th –  Smart Women’s Institute http://www.sherimcconnell.com/blog/ (Sher McConnell)

 


Come in out of the panic

People are shell shocked right now. It takes bravery just to read the paper. The heart is broken page after page by stories of yet another disaster, unspeakable violence, and unbearable loss. As for politics, the mind doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. And finances? We all want to run for the covers. Even the weather stories are scary. The movies all sound loud and ugly. The snarky humor in the comic section is no longer funny. Where can we find a bit of shelter? The crossword puzzle perhaps. Or the food section. Surely the food section. Maybe an article in travel will lift us momentarily to a sweeter place. 

 
Fear has come alive. It is an unbidden visitor who rode up in on the news, pushed in the door, and pitched a tent in the living room. We know fear is there, but we’re afraid to acknowledge it. Won’t that mean it wins? So we put on our best face and keep going. We pull out every positive strategy we’ve ever heard. We try being grateful for what we have, while praying for what we don’t. We attempt the high watch of surrender while secretly begging for victory. But the monster is still in the living room. Panic is gurgling all around. What do we do?
 
There is a safe haven. It’s just not where you expect. It isn’t anything or anyone out there. It isn’t in a better leader or a wiser investment. It isn’t in a clever strategy or a more powerful prayer. It’s inside of you. It’s in your hands.
 
If you’ve read my recent newsletters, you know I fell madly in love with Anam Cara by John O’Donohue. I read it three times, underlined and marked it up beyond all recognition. Anam Cara is now a keystone in my courses. It has  seeped into everything I write. But no matter how many times I read it, I wasn’t sated. I wanted more.
 
So this week, I began reading another John O’Donohue book, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace. Much as I loved Anam Cara, I really didn’t expect to have the same mad reaction to Beauty. Given the topic, I thought it would be lovely, and certainly lifting, but I never expected it to invade my heart, grab my bones, and take me for a velvet ride. But I should have known. No one writes about the soul like John O’Donohue. No one. And, bless him, he also has given us the antidote to panic. Listen:
 
“All the contemporary crises can be reduced to a crisis about the nature of beauty.”
 
Instinctively we know this is true. The media enshrines the ugly, business despoils the land for profit, and architecture creates spaces that starve our souls. We are surrounded by a multitude of things, but still we are hungry. Hungry for something–anything–that is beautiful.
 
“When we expect and engage the Beautiful…, the heart becomes rekindled and our lives brighten with unexpected courage. It is courage that restores hope to the heart.”
 
Beauty begets courage? I would never have connected those dots. Would you? But oh, what courage can do.
 
“Courage is amazing…it can tap into the heart of fear, taking that frightened energy and turning it toward initative, creativity, action and hope….
Courage is a spark that can become the flame of hope lighting new and exciting pathways in what
seemed to be a dead, dark landscape.”
 
So, what we need is courage. And the way to courage is to allow the flicker of beauty into our lives. But don’t think that that beauty is something external. Yes, if you want to go to a museum, go. If you want to attend a play, read a poem, or listen to a concert, for heaven’s sake, do. But know this: Beauty, real beauty, is alive in a place you can visit anytime you want. It is alive inside of you.
 
Don’t say “Oh, but I’m not an artist.” Because you are. John O’Donohue says it as succinctly as it can be said:
 
“We were created to be creators.”
 
If you are hungry, weary, lonely, tired, afraid, it’s time to come in out of the panic and create. If fear has camped out in the living room, it’s time to create.  It’s time to awaken that gorgeous vibrant beauty that lives inside of you. It is there in the desires of your heart, the dreams of your life, the itch in your hands. Don’t worry about not knowing how. Just put something in your hands. For a moment, be the wide-eyed kindergartener who once was you and play, just play, in the possibilities.
  • Pick up a pen and write
  • A slab of clay and shape 
  • A brush and paint
  • A pencil and draw
  • A scissors and cut
  • A knife and cook
  • A seed and plant
  • A scarf and dance
  • Create a business plan, an outline, a class
  • Design a pillow, plan a trip, make a meal

The tools you can put in your hands are without end. The things you can imagine are without end. The places you can go in your mind are without end. The beauty you can touch is without end. The well is deep and it is full.

Here’s what will happen.

When you re-activate that part of you that has never been wounded, the part of you that knows who you really are, the battle with fear will come to an end. When you step into your creative self, your soul-self, you awaken something huge: trust in your own capacity to live a beautiful life. You will be free. And that uninvited guest will have no choice but to slink out the door.

“At its deepest heart, creativity is meant to serve and evoke beauty. When this desire and capacity
come alive, new wells spring up in parched ground; difficulty becomes invitation and rather than striving against the grain of our nature, we fall into rhythm with its deepest urgency and passion. The time is now ripe for beauty to surprise and liberate us.”

So perhaps all this chaos in the world is an invitation. Perhaps that black thing in the living room is an invitation. Perhaps the parched landscape is an invitation. An invitation to awaken to who we really are: not consumers, creators. When we accept, we stop being consumed by life and start creating life. The invitation is real. It is open. It is on your desk awaiting a reply. Please put something in your hands and accept.

__________________________________

Want more?

Come, let your writer loose at Plug In for Writers, starting August 30

Find your creative expression at Plug In for Expressive Souls Sept 1


The Life Around the Corner, Part 1: Start Walking

Peek around the corner

Peek around the corner

When you write down your soul, you never know when something profound is going to plop onto the page. Sometimes you think you can predict the Voice or control it by asking really good questions. But you are not in charge. When you write this way, you yield the pen to the Voice and the Voice takes it. The only thing I know for sure is that the Voice will speak. But even I, after twelve years of deep soul writing, cannot predict when a sweet dollop of grace will land on the page. I can only smile and say, “Thank you.” And, oh, one other thing: grab that wisdom and use it.

That’s what happened April 23rd. I was back in New York teaching “How to Write Your Creative Blessing” at the Alex Grey gallery upstairs from the wonderful bookstore in the Village, East West Living. I had taught the class what a Creative Blessing is and how to use it to induce effortless work. As the group picked up their pens to write their blessings, I picked up mine. But not to write a new blessing. I love my Writing Blessing and don’t want to change a word. So I just stepped into my normal conversation with the Voice. I talked about my packed weekend of events in New York and Connecticut and wondered what it all meant and where it was all going.

In the midst of a perfectly ordinary sentence, this appeared: The life around the corner. I took a breath. Oh. Quickly, I captured it on a fresh page. The life around the corner. I didn’t understand it, but I knew it was a blessing.

That night, I stayed with Victoria Moran, author of the brand new Living a Charmed Life. I had to be in Norwalk, Connecticut at Pymander Books the next day. Victoria gave me directions. She said to walk north on Lenox/Malcolm X Blvd 9 blocks and then turn right on 125th and walk across three avenues to the Metro North station. For a Floridian who typically walks 4 yards to the car, it seemed downright exotic. But at 9am the next morning, there I was hiking up Malcolm X.

As I walked, the phrase returned: the life around the corner. As I turned the corner at 125th, I got it. I said “thank you” out loud. A young woman passing with two young boys smiled at me. I grinned back.

Here’s my interpretation of the Voice’s message. There is a life around the corner. You can’t see it. But it is still there. Waiting. Waiting for you to walk toward it. But what do we do? We duck into the safe storefront of the safe job, the safe relationship, the safe decision, the safe amount of money in the bank. I hovered in those “safe” doorways for years — decades actually. While my real life waited. Waited for me to overcome my fear, step out, and start walking.

A week later, I met my media guru, Jennifer Hill Robenalt of Hoopla Media. Jennifer’s vision for me and for Writing Down Your Soul takes my breath away. Do you remember that nifty spy binocular toy that allowed you to see around corners and over fences? I loved that thing.

Well, Jennifer is my spy binocular. She sees what the Voice sees. We all need a Jennifer. We all need someone to see our potential and believe in our ability to achieve it. God love you if you have a Jennifer Hill Robenalt. But if you don’t, don’t worry. You have the Voice. And you have a life around the corner.

What is it?