Squam Art Workshops Fall 2011 Recap

I spent last weekend in the woods at Squam Art Workshops where I played with paint, dipped my feet in the cool lake, connected with creative souls, and re-energized my spirit.

I attended last year and enjoyed the creativity and connections. It was nice to be back and to enjoy some warm, sunny days for at least part of the retreat – perfect weather for chillaxing on a dock. But don’t get me wrong, I made good use of my waterproof shoes and down parka as well!

I got my hands dirty in Mary Beth Shaw’s Stratilicious, Baby! class where we learned how to create interesting textures and layers using materials such as wood icing, tar (yes, tar!), and beeswax. I’ve played with encaustics before, but this time I got to etch the wax and color it in with oil paints, which created a very cool effect.

On the second day, I did yoga with the wonderfully grounded Michelle Madden Smith in front of a toasty fire. I don’t think I’ve ever practiced yoga wearing as many layers as I did (think Stay Puff Marshmallow Man!), but it was a chilly morning. Once I got my ujjayi breath going, though, I was in the zone. I wish the class had been a full-day. It was so blissful.

I also took a hand-lettering class with Penelope Dullaghan who is a fellow contributor to Christine Mason Miller’s forthcoming book Desire to Inspire.  I really loved the effect in my first piece using the tip of a liquid acrylic ink pipette on top of a wet wash of color. I wasn’t able to recreate the look again, so I was grateful I had my happy accident.

The last class I took was Care and Keeping with “the other Jen Lee.” It was funny how people kept getting us confused.  I spell Jenn with two n’s and live on the west coast – she spells it with one n and lives on the east coast – we joked that we needed to have signs or T-shirts so that people knew which Jen(n) was which!

I appreciated the spaciousness that Jen invited in during the session. We got to spend part of it on our own and I lounged on a dock and refilled my well. It was just what I needed before leading a short talk on the Right-Brain Business Plan after lunch. During my presentation I connected with all sorts of wonderful women who are running creative businesses or who dream of doing so one day. The great thing about being at Squam is it certainly inspires people to live their creative dreams!

One of the highlights was getting to have many belly laughs with my lovely friend Kimberly Wilson. She recently launched a new e-Course about creative and conscious business and I’m on of the featured guests. I can’t wait to see her again when she’s in town next month!

You can see more pics from my trip here on flickr.

And before I headed out to Squam, I had the chance to hang out with my dear friend Leah. This was the third fall I’ve stayed with her – I like this pattern! In 2009  we led a workshop together. In 2010, we went to Squam together, and then this year I got to visit and meet her super sweet little girl Annabelle. Isn’t she a cutie?!

Going on this trip made me realize how much I’m really craving a nice private retreat with my Nurture Huddle. Oh, that just sounds heavenly! I can’t wait for us to start dreaming up some locations for us to gather at next year!

March Recap

OMG, I can’t believe March is over! It’s been a whirlwind month filled with so many exciting things!

The first half of the month I spent immersed in a community of more than 2,000 creative souls who came together from around the world to participate in my first ever Right-Brainers in Business Video Summit. The energy and passion of all of these amazing people inspired me to no end. It definitely felt like we started a revolution of right-brainers in business! You can check out what some of the people have been up to since then on the RBBP Facebook fan page. And if you missed the summit, not to worry, you can still access the multimedia library to get inspiring and practical tips for running a creative business.

Oh and this is so freakin’ rad… toward the very end of the summit Jen Landis surprised me with this adorable Pincurl girl drawing of me. Thanks, Jen! I love it!!

Earlier this month I had my local book signing at A Great Good Place for Books in Montclair. Kate made my hubby take the photo above. I think it’s hilarious! I had a great time and was absolutely thrilled that it worked out for my friend Darlene from Canada to swing by on the first leg of her California trip.

I’ve also been busy doing a virtual book tour including guest blog posts, podcasts, and radio interviews. I just found out today that I’ll be on KOIT, a local radio station, next week. Yay!

As part of the video summit this month, I sent out many, many books all around the world. It’s thrilling to think about RBBP’s being made as far away as South Africa, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand!

I must say the two weeks of the summit were super intense for me and I certainly needed downtime after to recoup after all the excitement. In fact, I am still recouping! I made sure to have lots of rest and to schedule in some small celebrations for myself.  I treated myself to a morning of painting back at Chris’ studio. It had been several months since I was there.

And last weekend, my hubby, our dog, and I took a lovely trip up to Napa for some much deserved and needed rest and relaxation. We spent most of the trip indulging on delicious food at the awesome dog-friendly B&B we stayed at called the Inn on First, and at fabulous restaurants including Ubuntu which serves the most amazing vegetable dishes (and they have a yoga studio in the restaurant – how cool is that?) and Morimoto Napa where we had an absolutely incredible dinner. Oh, I want to go back! Mmmm.

So those were some highlights from March. Hard to believe the first quarter of 2011 is over. I’m really looking forward to more exciting things to come in April and beyond!

A Creative Space of My Own

Over the summer I moved my work space from the cramped and cluttered downstairs office I shared with my husband (see before photo below) to the guest/yoga/meditation/ironing room now turned bright and airy creative space. I’ve been feeling so much more focused and inspired now!

Here’s a peek into my before situation. I can’t believe I tolerated that tiny corner of such a messy space for so many years! I mean really?!!!… beauty and spaciousness are two of my core values and I certainly wasn’t honoring them here! My breaking point was when Emmett knocked over the waste basket for the bazillionth time and then fell asleep on top of the trash.

I started to collect images of my ideal space. I envisioned the creative space I’m in now and a future studio space outside the house. You can click the image above to see a larger version.

Now my piles of paper and projects are neatly tucked away in these fabulous boxes from Ikea. And I’m surrounded by my Right-Brain Business Plan. My vision board is hanging on my bulletin board along with my goal sheet and creative cohort map. I’ve also got my perfect customer profiles on display in my cool card carousel and one of my walls is covered with pages from the fabulous Paper Source wall calendar.

Plus, I still have room to do yoga and meditation. (Although I could be making more space in my schedule for that!).

At the start of 2010, I choose “grounded growth” as my intention for the year. Moving into my own office was an important way for me to honor grounded growth. And it symbolized giving myself permission to take up more space. During intuitive painting last year, I’d been playing with being big and taking up more space so it was cool to see how that translated into my work and personal life here.

If you don’t have a creative space just for you, I recommend carving one out for yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small area for now (maybe a desk or altar in your bedroom, or a corner of the kitchen) as long as it helps you nourish your inner muse. Decorate your space with whatever inspire you – perhaps colorful artwork, photos of your favorite vacation spot, candles, and flowers. Spend at least 10 minutes a day there to honor your creative spirit. You could journal, do art, or plan your day. Here’s to a creative space just for YOU!

Pausing to Paint and Ponder

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed as of late. I’m back on deadline editing my manuscript. I’ve got lots of converging deadlines, piles of administrative crap, and a general lack of sleep. If it weren’t for my VA, bookkeeper, accountant, Nurture Huddle, and wonderful hubby, I would probably be at my wits end. Thank goodness I can lean on them for support!

Yesterday I was finishing up a video on self-care that will post tomorrow on Spring. It was a great reminder to ask myself what I needed in the midst of all that’s going on.

While I didn’t make it to painting class today, I carved out 15 minutes to connect with my inner muse. I covered the kitchen table with a huge sheet of butcher paper, squeezed some paints on to a tray, and allowed myself to enjoy the sensation of putting paint to paper.The paint even smelled good! It was amazing to just give myself that bit of time to recharge by doing something I love.

My deadlines aren’t going anywhere, and I acknowledge I’m just in a crunch time for the next few weeks. But even so, I know there are small, simple things I can do to stay grounded. I can pick up my paint brush again tomorrow, I’m drawing boundaries around e-mail correspondence, and I’m enjoying going for walks outside with my dog. Remembering to breathe is good, too!

Summer Self-Care Friday

My self-care Fridays seem extra special during the summertime. The gorgeous sunny days and balmy breeze invite a carefree spirit.

Here’s how I’ve honored my self-care Friday so far today:

  • Went for a dip in the pool
  • Lounged in my backyard hammock
  • Got creative inspiration from flipping through Maira Kalman’s The Principles of Uncertainty
  • Sipped a luscious blueberry smoothie
  • Picked blackberries from the wild brambles that randomly grow in my backyard (maybe they’ll go into tomorrow’s smoothie!)

View from my hammock

I love how peaceful it is to look up at the  canopy of green leaves rustling in the breeze. It’s the perfect place to have my own zen-like mini-vacation.

How do you slow down and savor during the summer? What self-care practices can you incorporate into your life this weekend?

For more ideas on self-care and slowing down this summer, check out my final post on the wishstudio.

Self-Care Friday and Creative Inspiration

Friday’s are my self-care days. I don’t schedule meetings or calls. I take quiet time to just be. To unplug.  To not feel obligated to do anything. It may not be for the entire day, but even just having a few hours of white space helps me recharge from the week.  When I don’t gift myself with this weekly mini-retreat, I get cranky and resentful. But when I allow myself to indulge in some breathing space, I can relax, enjoy, and even get inspired!

Today I treated myself to a much needed mani and pedi. Feels good to be able to wear sandals and flip flops proudly again! I also enjoyed a lovely walk in the sun with my dog.

Here’s my cute pooch Emmett hanging out in the front yard with me. Oh, he’s such a sweetie. Cuddles with Emmett are also a good part of self-care Fridays!

How do you practice self-care? What’s different for you when you enjoy breathing space?

P.S. – I had the pleasure of being interviewed on a few podcasts recently. If you’re wanting some creative inspiration, take a listen:

Practicing Grounded Growth

My 2010 theme of grounded growth has been a valuable touchstone. Whenever I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed or stressed out, I reconnect with my intention. Here are some simple ways that I’ve practiced grounded growth the past few weeks:

  • Practiced yoga at home. While I love going to intense vinyasa classes and working up a sweat, sometimes it’s more beneficial to do my own practice at home where I can follow my own breath. My body needed to slow down and I listened.
  • Took my pup for a long walk on the one day when it didn’t rain. We both enjoyed the crisp, fresh air and hint of sunshine.
  • Journaled in the morning.
  • Carved out focused time for my writing. My new favorite secret weapon is the cool tool Concentrate for the Mac which allows you to eliminate distractions on your computer like social media, websites, and applications. I’ve logged more than 12 hours of writing since getting it a few weeks ago. Funny thing is I discovered it on Twitter when I was supposed to be writing!
  • After a long couple days of intense work, I took a night off and watched a DVD with my hubby.
  • Took a yoga class today and loved that my teacher started us off with some deep breathing in reclining butterfly. He had us extend our exhale to help us ground and expand our inhale to help us spread out. A great physical practice of my grounded growth theme!

How are you practicing your theme for the year? What little things can you do to embody your intention?

Hip Tranquil Chick Retreat in New York


Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Kimberly Wilson’s Hip Tranquil Chick Retreat in New York.  Two-plus days full of creativity, yoga, journaling, meditation and lots of other yummy activities – who could ask for more?  Oh yeah, and some retail therapy (Kimberly brought pieces from her spring line of TranquiliT eco-clothing) so, of course, I had to pick up a few things!

I took Kimberly’s Yoga and Creativity workshop in San Francisco last year, so I enjoyed getting a whole weekend to bask in the hip and tranquil lifestyle!


There was a dreamy library brimming with books written by women.  I loved how there were lots of cozy corners in the farmhouse.  My intention for the weekend was self-care, so I went to bed early and slept in late and took every opportunity to nourish myself.


On Saturday night we made vision boards while watching Sex and the City.  It was lots of fun!  On the floor in the front, there’s Mary Knebel founder of Self Help Goddess, a website that brings together the best of self-help resources.


Kimberly invited me to lead a section of the retreat.  I guided the group through a visualization to meet their Inner Muse and we broke out the crayons, markers and glitter glue to create Inner Muse portraits.  What a treat to see the creativity flowing and to hear some of the personal discoveries.  Thanks, Kimberly for an amazing opportunity!!


Lesley Williams from the Creative Cookie and I paired up to discuss how we can improve aspects of our “Wheel of Life.”  It was great to share ideas for living a healthy life!


Kimberly had us do our vision boards on folders.  What a brilliant idea!  My vision board focused on finishing my book and book proposal with ease and flow. So many ideas bubbled up for me during this retreat and I’m excited to start working on them.  Also, participating in this retreat and getting to lead a couple of hours helped underscore for me my goal of leading retreats for women in the future.

Me with Kimberly Wilson and Sharon Burton

I had a blast getting to chat with Kimberly throughout the weekend.  And I was thrilled to finally meet my blogging buddy Sharon Burton in person!  We’ve been connecting on Twitter, Facebook and our blogs for some time and Sharon’s also taking my Right-Brain Business Plan Teleclass, so it was really cool to hang out with her!


And here are all the magnificent ladies!  I met such cool, amazing and inspiring women and I’m really excited about what they’re up to!

If you’re wanting to go on retreat either away or for a few hours at home, check out Jennifer Louden’s The Women’s Retreat Book which offers some great suggestions for designing your own personal getaway.  I highly recommend going on retreat at least once a year to clear your head and to relish in relaxation and rejuvenation.

(Note: last five photos are from Kimberly Wilson and Sharon Burton).

Secret #5: Committing to Self-Focus

We’re on week 5 of the Next Chapter book club and Gail McMeekin’s fifth secret in The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women is committing to self-focus.

Fridays are my self-care days.  I don’t have any meetings.  I don’t do any phone calls.  I have time just for me.

There was a Friday a few weeks ago, when I broke my promise to myself – big time!  My calendar kept getting shuffled around, the rest of the week was pretty packed, so I ended up scheduling back-to-back meetings from 9:30am-5pm.  I rationalized to myself that this was okay.  In fact, the first thing I had put on my calendar a couple months before was a meeting with a professional organizer, Claire Tompkins.  Having focused time to clear the clutter in my office was definitely my idea of a self-care act.

What didn’t help was that I started to fill in every nook and cranny before and after that meeting.  A call to plan an event for a community that I really love.  A visit from a dear friend.  And then a marathon trip to the bookkeeper.  Granted, all the things (besides the bookkeeper, of course), were things that I enjoy and are important to me.  However, I became so oblivious to my self-care day that I even neglected to build in time for me to eat!  Oops.

Later on when Claire checked-in with me for feedback on the organizing session, she also mentioned that I didn’t seem like my normal, positive self.  What she was picking up on, but I didn’t acknowledge until later was that part of me was resentful that I didn’t protect my self-care day. Instead of basking in the rested, inspired and spacious feeling of a normal Friday, I was overwhelmed, rushed and stressed (oh yeah, and very hungry!).

Having time alone is crucial for my mental health and my creative process. I’m usually pretty good about carving out those boundaries.  When I was younger, I remember my mom telling me it was okay to say no to things if I needed to take care of me or something that was important to me.  I appreciate that she did that.

Today on my self-care day I slept in, I’m going to the bookstore later on and I might even allow myself to read some fiction ;)!

How do you commit to self-focus?  What things do you do to practice self-care?

Celebrating ’08 and Clearing the Way for ’09

With 2009 just around the corner, I consciously cleared the clutter in my office to make room for wonderful things to come in the new year. (I also donated five bags to Goodwill last week!)

For the past few weeks, I’d been feeling burdened by lots of administrative obstacles in both my personal and professional life.  And boy did the mess on my desk show that. I couldn’t even work there!

Ah, it feels so good to have a functioning and inspiring workspace again!  I’m more focused and energized, which is a great way to kick off 2009.

Before jumping into the new year, though, I like to reflect on the past year.  I already did a visual year in review.  Taking the time to also write about 2008 helped me remember accomplishments both big and small that I want to celebrate as well.

As I reflect on the year, I come up with a title to capture the essence of what unfolded.  Last year was “My year of integration: When it all came together.”  This year was “My year of stepping out and being seen, speaking up and being heard,” which is based on my first happiness commandment.  For someone who is usually behind the scenes, this was definitely a stretch for me.  I challenged myself AND I had fun doing it!

My 2008 accomplishments:


Personal Growth

Health and Well-being

  • Found local yoga classes that I like and started to go regularly
  • Went for hikes in nature
  • Rediscovered my handstand in yoga
  • Went for swims on hot, sunny days
  • Ate lunch outside during the summer


  • Spent quality time with Brian, including a nice date to see the Frida exhibit
  • Relished in laughs and great food with my book club
  • Visited my family in LA three times
  • Spent time with friends and made new friends in real life and online

Wealth and Abundance

  • Participated in a money circle and created my ideal budget
  • Reached my financial goals for the year
  • Made passive income and created multiple revenue streams

Fun and Recreation

What did you celebrate in 2008?  What is the title of your year?

Wishing you all the best in 2009!