One Person’s Junk is Another’s Treasure


I can’t believe that I’ve lived in Oakland for more than five years and had yet to visit East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse!  Well, last Friday my friend Julie and I rectified that situation.  We beamed with excitement as we read on the website, “Every teacher’s first stop and every artist’s second home.”  Since Julie’s a teacher and we’re both quite crafty we knew this could be dangerous!


While I’m not one to rummage through garage sales and flea markets (I just get too overwhelmed), I was amazed at the random and fun things I found at the depot.  You can buy scrap paper buy the inch, crayons by the pound, buttons by the bag and so much more!  I picked up a handful of those bright yellow buttons, a bag of cool retro book pages, an old UC Berekely newspaper from 1974, some upholstery swatches, a few sheets of handmade paper and a blank book shaped like a tag.  I’m looking forward to the creative ways I can use these goodies.

If you haven’t been yet, definitely check it out.  And of course while you’re in the Temescal area, stop by Bake Sale Betty‘s for the fried chicken.  Julie and I waited in a line that went almost down the block, but it was worth it for the delicious fried chicken salad, ginger cookie and lemonade.  (We rationalized to ourselves that the fried chicken salad was much healthier than the famous fried chicken sandwich!).  Also, my favorite yarn store, Article Pract, is nearby, too, as is my friend Danielle Fox’s beautiful new gallery Slate Art and Design.  Lots of creative inspiration along this street!

When 70% is Good Enough


During the past few of weeks at Chris Zydel’s intuitive painting classes, I’ve discovered two more important lessons in my creative process:

  • A lot can be produced in just 10 minutes
  • All you need to get started is 70%

A couple of weeks ago, as class was winding down, I found myself checking out and feeling done with my painting for the day (even though there clearly was room for more!).

Chris came over and asked, “What’s next?  What are three things that could show up in this painting now?”

I pondered, “Maybe a cloud or a dragon’s head or a bird? ”

“Which one has the most juice for you?” Chris inquired.

I responded, “The dragon’s head, I guess.”

“Great, so that’s what’s next!”

“But there’s only 10 more minutes of class,” I proclaimed (or should I say whined!), thinking I wouldn’t have time to finish something new.

“That’s okay, just see what you can do,” Chris encouraged.

I grabbed a brush, dabbed some red paint and went to work.  Lo and behold within less than five minutes I had finished the dragon’s head and included fire coming out of its mouth!  Who knew I could get so much accomplished in such a short amount of time?  What a good reminder, if I just spend even 10 minutes on something – a creative project, writing, planning – that I could actually get more done than I thought.  And I have a great place to start from the next time I can pick back up again.

The next week, I showed up to class late, tired and a bit discombobulated.  I had forgotten my wallet at home and had to turn back.  By the time I finally got to the studio, I realized I had left my iPhone in the car and had to walk back to get it.  I was already eating away at my painting time and was getting mad at myself.

I sighed as I started to gather my brushes and paints and said to Chris that I was feeling like I wasn’t fully present yet.  I was only about 70% there.  And of course the wise and loving Chris said, “Hey, that’s good enough!”  I sat down and got to painting.  Before I knew it, I was sucked in.  Images and color poured on to the paper one after the other.  I don’t even know when the shift happened, but I went from 70% barely there to 100% in the creative flow.

Often times when I’m not feeling totally in a creative mood or I’m slightly distracted, I’ll think that I’m not in the space to create.  So, I don’t.  I don’t write.  I don’t paint.  I don’t do yoga.  I don’t work on a project that I need to.  Because I’m waiting to already be engaged at 100% in order to get started.  What I took away from class last week was that it’s okay (and even enjoyable and quite productive) to ease into it.  To begin from where I’m at, 70%, 50% or merely 10% and go from there.  Momentum will build and if it doesn’t that’s okay, too.  At least I got started!

I’m really appreciating all of the lessons that are emerging through this creative process and I look forward to discovering more gems in class this week.

Expressive Arts Teacher Training


One of my intuitive painting rituals is to take a snapshot of my paint palette.  Each session, my color choices differ depending on my mood or what simply strikes my fancy while perusing the rainbow of tempera bottles.  The intuitive process begins even before paint ever touches paper.  It starts by selecting colors and brushes.  What size brush is your hand drawn to?  What paint is crying out, “Pick me!  Pick me!”  Do you listen? Or do you ignore these creative urges?  What a great reminder that it’s about the process, not the product!

How do you allow your intuition to guide you in selecting the tools, materials and resources for creating what you’re up to in your life?

I’m always amazed at what insights emerge in the creative process.  The other week I shared some images and learnings from my intuitive painting process so far and last month, I shared some intuitive painting life lessons in my Artizen Coaching newsletter.


I’m letting my intuition guide me by choosing this very important creative resource… starting in August, I’ll be participating in Chris Zydel’s Expressive Arts Teacher Training Program.  If you’re a coach, therapist, artist or creative soul who wants to use expressive arts to facilitate powerful change, then definitely check out this training.  It’s an intensive year-long experiential course where we’ll learn how to incorporate Expressive Arts approaches such as intuitive painting, movement, etc. into deep group process work.  Chris will also be sharing the nuts and bolts of how to open a studio, run the business side of things and more!

While I’ve learned a ton about leading groups through CTI’s leadership program and I feel pretty good about my business know-how, I know there is always so much more knowledge to soak up and embody.  What I love about this program is I’m going to get to blend together many of my loves – personal growth, creativity, expressive arts, leadership, coaching and group work.  For a few years now, I’ve been searching for an Expressive Arts program but none of them seemed to fit what I was looking for.  Many seemed too clinical or therapy-based or too academic.  None of them cried out “Pick me! Pick me!”  That is, until I met Chris.  Her warm heart and wise spirit invited me to play!  I’m really looking forward to continuing my personal and professional development in this way and I’m excited to see what will unfold from this experience.

What creative resource is calling your name today?  What would happen if you followed that creative urge?

Intuitive Painting: Permission to Make “Ugly” Art


Since February, I’ve been attending Chris Zydel’s Intuitive Painting class at her cozy Oakland studio.  What a gift to have stumbled upon Chris via twitter and to have this opportunity to explore my creative self in new ways.  I’ve always loved painting.  What’s great about playing with this approach, though, is that I’m accessing different parts of my intuition and allowing the images to just unfold – even if they don’t make sense or if I think they’re crazy and hideous!

It’s about the process not the product.

I’m finding that the intuitive painting is enhancing my creative process in general.  In fact, the other day my book coach said she noticed that I’m getting more comfortable with sending her really bad and incomplete first drafts.  Since I’m typically a perfectionist, this has been great progress!  The crappy first drafts are valuable fodder which eventually evolves into something that works and feels good.

I felt compelled to share some of the pieces I’ve created recently, even though it feels vulnerable to do so.  In class, we refrain from making any comments to others about their paintings.  This helps to create a safe space where anything can show up on paper without fear of criticism (or even praise – or not getting praise).  There’s definitely an edge for me in putting all this out there AND I know there is value in sharing my own process.  So, here it goes…


The painting above started off looking and feeling like roadkill.  I just happily slapped on layers and layers of red paint.  Then some figures started to emerge…

Intuitive Painting

And then over the course of two classes it morphed into this bizarre image.  When I was stuck at one point, Chris asked me what are three possible things that could happen next, perhaps a new color or image.  I said something in the top left corner.  I really dislike purple, so that’s what I decided to go with – where there was the most resistance.  At the end, I signed the painting and pinned it up next to me to dry.  When I looked over, though, I saw some faint eyes staring back at me in the purple mess in the corner, so I had to go back and fill in glowing eyes in more detail to truly complete this wild painting.

Even though my judging mind thinks this image is quite ugly and disturbing, I found the painting process very satisfying.  And that’s what it’s about!  As Chris tweeted to me later on, “You’ve just discovered one of the secrets of the intuitive painting process.  Making bad art can feel SO GOOD.”


This was painting I did last month.  It was such a surprise to see what unfolded here as I let my brush just allow images to take shape.  Beauty is a value of mine, so it is quite uncomfortable and strange for me to give myself permission for things to be ugly and weird.  However, besides aesthetics, to me, there is the beauty of emotion and the inner world.  So, in that respect the intuitive painting aligns deeply with my values of beauty, creativity and self-expression.  It’s amazing to me how the painting really just paints itself.


The painting above started off with swirling circles that then formed what I thought was going to be a sun or a planet, but then surprisingly turned into a giant cross-eyed snail.  Who knew?  I had been feeling very tired and sluggish, so I guess it was befitting.   It wasn’t complete until I added the red glitter glue which went on all slimy just like a snail trail!  Very visceral and fun!


And then there’s my new favorite technique… what Chris called the the “use up your paints” painting.  I was fascinated just watching the paint globs drip down the page until they dried.

Some great resources about the painting process

I’m looking forward to diving deeper into this process by painting regularly and also through taking Chris’ Expressive Arts teacher training program starting in August.  Until then, I just finished reading Painting from The Source by Aviva Gold and I have Life, Paint, Passion by Michele Cassou and Stewart Cubley on my nightstand. And below is a fantastic video by Stewart Cubley about the Painting Experience.

These are great resources if you’re wanting to dabble in some intuitive panting on your own.  But of course the best way to learn about the painting process is to just pick up a brush and let your Inner Muse guide you.  Enjoy!

Creative Every Day 2009

Happy New Year! Today rings in the first day of Creative Every Day 2009, a challenge started by the wonderful artist and creative blogger Leah Piken Kolidas.  This year Leah will be providing a theme for each month to help spark our creativity.  January’s theme is play – one of my core values!

I’ve already had a creative start to 2009.  This afternoon I took a yoga class at Monkey Yoga where the teachers infuse their practice with play and fun.  Tim had us doing his “chimpasana” and “gorillasana” (both pretty hard, but hilarious made-up poses) and Laura always makes me laugh.  I doodled a bit tonight, too.  And I spent time planning for several creative projects that I’m excited to share soon.

AEDM Day 30: Right-Brain Business Plan ’09 Part I

Today is the last day of the Art Everyday Month challenge! What an awesome month of creativity, exploration and play. I also love the community and new connections this challenge fosters!

Right-Brain Business Plan 2009

During the final two days of AEDM 2007, I invented my Right-Brain Business Plan, so it was only befitting that I use the last day of AEDM 2008 to start my new Right-Brain Business Plan for next year!

Right-Brain Business Plan 2009

Part of what I envision is making a broader impact on the creative entrepreneur community and women in business.  While I’m putting myself out there, I want to honor my values of fun/play, authenticity/trusting myself, peace/harmony, and beauty/creativity/expression.

Right-Brain Business Plan 2009

One of my big accomplishments this year was hiring a Virtual Assistant.  I’ve really enjoyed the extra support so that I can focus on the more strategic and profit-oriented aspects of my business.  In 2009, I want to continue that process and develop more streamlined systems so I can work smarter and expand my business in new and exciting ways.

Also, I’ve had a blast this year with creating The Right-Brain Business Plan e-Book and the Unfolding Your Life Vision Kit.  Next year, my goal is to finish my first book and get started on the other two that have also been percolating!  I also want to develop new innovative products and services to offer.

Plus, I want to continue increasing my media exposure. Would love to be back on The View From The Bay and to get on The Martha Stewart Show to demonstrate an Unfolding Your Life Vision collage book, along with other TV, print and online venues!!

Right-Brain Business Plan 2009

Last year, when I set my financial goals, I didn’t realize this, but I focused just on the actual amount rather than also including what the money would actually get me.  While I’ve come pretty darn close to my goal, I know I can dream bigger for next year and beyond!  Since money is not what drives me in running my own business, I brought into my vision more aspects of the lifestyle I want to be living.  I think that’s something that really came home for me when I participated in a money circle earlier this year.

I look forward to fleshing out the details of my plan like I did last year.  That’s really where the rubber starts meeting the road and the vision can come to life!  I also just ordered a book that just came out earlier this month called The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real by Lisa Sonora Beam.  It looks right up my alley and I bet it’ll give me more ideas for detailing out my 2009 Right-Brain Business plan.

All of this creating and art visioning during AEDM has inspired me to revisit the new letter from the future I started writing a few weeks ago.  That will give me additional insights into my plan and I’m sure I’ll now have more things to add to my letter!

The end of the year is a great time to start thinking about what you want the next year to be like, so I hope you’ll do some visioning and planning, too!  Please let me know, I’d love to see!!

AEDM Day 29: An Explosive Year in Review

Most of today was spent completing my “year in review” project on my exploding box.  It ended up taking a lot longer than I anticipated, but it was great to spend time reflecting on all the exciting events and accomplishments that have transpired so far in 2008.

My moo cards were the perfect size to decorate the pages.

I even made a miniature brochure that unfolds just like the real one!

Wow, 2008 has really been an amazing year!  So many of the things that I had envisioned in my Right-Brain Business Plan last year have manifested.  I look forward to finishing up my year in review next month and to envisioning more for 2009!

AEDM Day 28: A Year in Review Prep

This morning I had a flash of an idea for how to decorate my exploding box.  I had planned to do a “year in review” piece and then realized the 12 squares of the box are the perfect format for documenting this past year!  Since I was gone most of the day in Sacramento for a baby shower and visiting friends, I just spent part of this evening planning out the different pages.  I have post-it note placeholders for what I want to include and I started to print out some images.  I look forward to diving into this project in more detail!

AEDM Day 26: Family Collage

No, I don’t have a bun in the oven!  Nor is there one planned for anytime soon.  However, when I was pulling magazine clippings for my values collage cards earlier this month, I happened to come across several Asian-American babies, kids and moms (and a dad!).  I figured I’d grab them while I could since it’s rare to see faces like me in the mainstream media (although it’s getting better).

I’m still not 100% sure I’m ready to take the parenthood leap (and who ever is?!)  I love my quiet mornings where I get to wake up without an alarm clock.  I worry that being an HSP would make motherhood ultra-draining.  Plus, Brian and I are used to living pretty independent and flexible lives (which include lots of sleep and a deep involvement in our work).  Life is good.  Sure, we’ve talked about having a family… in the future.  When I look at this collage, I see a vision that’s fun, creative, loving, connected, healthy and joyful, so that makes the whole idea a little less scary.  And it reminds me of the magic of childlike wonder.

Last week, I was in Montclair after my dentist appointment and I walked by this super cute storefront called The Tulip Grove.  I’m going to a friend’s baby shower this weekend, so I figured I’d go in and get a gift.  This is not just a baby shop, it’s also a community/education center complete with a classroom for workshops and support groups.  I was talking to the store owner because I love to connect with local entrepreneurs and it turns out that I met her business partner last year at a Ladies Who Launch event.  I remember her talking about this vision she had to create a destination spot for new moms.  It was awesome to see how beautifully her vision came to life!  And I love knowing that should the time come for me to need a resource like that, I know where to go!

Oh, and one other random thing about my collage… The strawberry is actually scratch n’ sniff!  I just had to cut it out cuz it smelled so good.   I used to have a scratch n’ sniff sticker collection when I was a kid, so it seemed appropriate for this piece. 🙂

AEDM Day 25: Staying Warm and Toasty

With the chilly weather here, it’s hard to believe that I actually went for a dip in the pool on a sunny afternoon just last week.  Cooler days and grayer skies call for sips of soothing tea or yummy cocoa to warm my spirits.  Today’s art is in honor of some of my favorite cold weather beverages.  Okay, perhaps tomato soup doesn’t totally count, but I do usually drink it out of a mug!

I’m super sensitive to caffeine so a Spicy hot chocolate from Bittersweet is an extra-special treat to be had early in the day.  And of course it must be topped with one of their homemade marshmallows!  (Oops, I misspelled it on my drawing – no spell check with handwriting!!  Heehee.)

Right now, I’m nursing a lovely cuppa Calming Yogi Tea before I call it a night.  Cheers!