Category: Reading Nook

The Little Voice Within: How I Hear My Intuition

Over the years and in so many ways in my creative journey I’ve been tripped up by the same thing: thinking I had to ‘get it right’. The absolute worst version of this has been when ‘getting it right’ also meant being something other than myself.

This year I have recommitted to listening to my own heart and following my own instincts. It’s like getting off the highway and instead following a barely perceptible path. It takes patience. It’s full of wonder, sometimes scary, and it makes me feel magnificently alive. I feel like myself again.

In order to find and follow this path, I’ve learned to listen for and to my intuition. One of the things that has helped me tremendously with this is my current morning practice. I’m going to share the intimate details with you today in the hopes that it will inspire you to create a version that helps you hear your own small voice within. Please know that it doesn’t have to be in the morning. It doesn’t have to include the same components. It simply has to be a repeated and recognizable moment so that your intuition knows you are listening and that it is safe and meaningful for her to share..

My Morning Practice

The first thing I do in the morning is feed the cats. Without that, there will be no hearing anything but insistent and persistent meows! Once my pride is taken care of, my practice officially begins.

First, I greet the day. If it’s warm enough, I go outside and greet the sun, the sky, the earth, the wind and all the directions. If not, I look out the window and do the same. I take a moment to notice the world and remember that I am a part of it.

I make an offering. I might put out a few nuts on a rock out back or light some incense and put it under our lilac tree. This morning I scattered the tulip petals that had fallen from a bouquet of spring flowers. I think the world was pleased.

Then I prepare a cup of tea or coffee, ascend to the studio and plug in my twinkie lights. I light the candle on my altar, setting the intention to listen and receive.

Then I dance. One song picked on shuffle. I trust the music, I move and I listen.

By now both the Universe and my spirit know that I am here and paying attention. I sit down to my journal and write. I follow seeds of ideas or questions that may have arisen. I ask for guidance. I let answers flow through my fingers. I notice what comes easily and feels fresh compared to what feels tight and all too familiar. I write until I feel complete.

Recently I’ve been following this with a simple 3-card tarot reading. I shuffle my deck*, again holding the intention of listening and receiving. When it feels right, I stop. I cut the deck twice with my left hand and I place three cards face up. First, in the centre, a card for ‘me’. Next, to the left, a card for ‘today’. Finally, on the right, a card for ‘guidance.’ I look for illumination on any present themes or concerns. I close with a little more writing to gather my insights and reflections.**

With gratitude in my heart, I blow out the candle and begin my day.

Then (and this is important) I follow the threads.

After spending time tuning into my intuition and seeking guidance, I follow where I’ve been led. I do my best not to slip back onto the highway of habit and the ‘way it’s done’. My insights guide my day. They lead my decision-making. Each day I demonstrate to that wee voice that not only am I listening but I am also acting. I will not take the wisdom I have received for granted.

With this practice, day by day, I am becoming better and better at finding and following that barely perceptible path that is truly my very own.

May you find and follow your path. I hope what I have shared today helps.

PS You might be thinking, “Jamie, all of that sounds nice but seriously, how long does that take?!!  You know, I love taking my time with this ritual whenever I can (it is delicious when it is languid and long) but it can also take about 15 minutes. And sometimes it actually saves me time. Instead of wrestling with questions and decisions, more often than not, I find I already have the answer!

PPS This is an excerpt from Letters from the Studio, which I send out on Sundays. Join the studio and I will send these creative inspirations to you. Plus you’ll get a discount on classes, a free workshop series and more!

*I recently shared that I have a new deck that I have fallen in love with, The Light Seer’s Tarot.
** These reflections often end up in the ‘insight’ section of my Studio Yearbook.


The Worst Kind of Comparison

We’re used to hearing about comparison in the context of comparing ourselves to others. Today I want to bring up a different kind of comparison, one that can rob us of years of our life: comparing where we are to where we want to be.

I don’t know about you but I have a visceral reaction just thinking about all the ways this shows up.

I thought by now I’d be…
I used to be able to….
I hate that….
What if I never…

This way of thinking has shut me down many a time and I have witnessed how often it has shut down the creatives that I coach.

I have learned to do three things in order to move through this painful comparison towards something else.

Acknowledge the truth.
Mourn the losses.
Open to the belief that even here there is goodness.

Many of us are facing, have faced and will face difficult and devastating circumstances. Many of us are facing the fact that our lives are simply different than we expected. Whatever the distance between what is and what we hoped for, if we lock ourselves into comparing the two, we can stay stuck in a loop of suffering for years.

Creativity lives in the present and, in an unexpected twist, it’s magic is strongest when it works with what is real.

Instead of losing years locked into comparing the way it is to the way we wanted it to be, let’s find the good that is available and get creating exactly where we are with exactly what we have. Who knows what we’ll achieve, experience and become on the adventure ahead!

PS This is an excerpt from Letters from the Studio, which I send out on Sundays. Join the studio and I will send these creative inspirations to you. Plus you’ll get a discount on classes, a free workshop series and more!

When You Make Something You Hate

I’m working on the painting above for a class. This photo was taken after my second pass at it. When I had finished my first pass, I took one look at it and thought ‘blech‘. I was ready to drop it, paint over it and use the board again. Then I realized something…

Hating the piece gave me permission to be reckless.

Suddenly I felt totally free. I couldn’t wreck this piece – it was already awful! I could do anything, try anything. I felt like a little kid with big messy markers who just wanted to go for it! Scribble, scribble! Glop, glop! If I was going to paint over it anyway, why not experiment? And that thought revealed the second gift of creating a piece you don’t like.

Let the unloved piece be your teacher.

The feeling of disliking our own work is so uncomfortable that we mostly want to just walk away. We want to forget we made anything so hideous! We’re afraid of what it means about us. We’re afraid it signals to ourselves and, now that it’s visible, to others that we’re not artists at all. We’ve been fooling ourselves. I mean… look at it!! Would an artist get it so completely wrong?!? The answer is yes. Artists get it wrong all the time and one piece is never the sum total of you. If you can calm your nervous system and not believe its hype, a piece you don’t like can be a tremendous teacher.

With this piece the turning point for me came when I showed the work to my sister Shannon, who I know to be a perfectly safe person to discuss my bad art with. I was able to talk out what I thought wasn’t working and find my way back in.

Here are some questions for when you don’t like a piece:

  • What specifically isn’t working?
  • What might be a resolution for that? (Bonus points if you try it!)
  • What do you like?
  • How can you build on that?

Give It Time

Sometimes we may need a break to really see our work. First, to soothe and remind ourselves that all is well and our artist’s life is not over because of this piece. Second, to give ourselves perspective. Artist Lynda Barry says it best, “There’s the drawing you are trying to make and the drawing that is actually being made – and you can’t see it until you forget what you are trying to do.” What would be different if you let the work be what it is?

Honour the Work

Honestly, I always feel uncomfortable when we generate ill will towards our work, like we’re berating a child for not living up to our expectations.* It also seems to me that it’s going to frighten away the next piece. I mean, who would want to arrive to that kind of reception?

I’m certainly not saying that you have to like all of your work. I sure don’t like all of mine, the above piece included. But I do believe that in order to move forward as an artist, to find our way and our work, we must respect each piece for what it is – maybe our teacher, maybe a step, maybe something whose value we are yet to discover.

Instead of chucking out your piece with despair, anger or frustration, ask yourself what creating it has contributed to your artistic journey, offer it your sincere gratitude and then go ahead and bin it!

(Note: This is originally from my Sunday  morning Letters from the Studio. Subscribe here if you want inspiration, Studio news and discounts!)

Is Making Art Worth the Time?

When I was a little girl, I was blessed with a creative mom who believed in the magic of art and art supplies. I grew up in an environment of books, puppets, paints, maracas, markers and construction paper. Even so, sometimes my mom’s approach would shut me down, like the time I proudly showed her some drawings and she said, “That was too fast. Real art takes time.”

Real art takes time.

What a terrifying thought.

Now before I go further, let me say that as an adult it occurred to me that what my mom really meant was, “Jamie, I literally just set you up to do some drawing. How can you be finished already? Do more! Take longer! I have my own things to do!” But at the time, I just felt shot down and confronted with the concepts of ‘real art’ and ‘time’.

I think time may be one of the things that confounds us creatives the most. There’s never enough of it and knowing that, we sink into a panic about whether we’ll ever make the work we want to create in this lifetime.The problem is that the worry slows us down – even paralyzes us at times.

Time is so limited we look for guarantees.

We don’t want to start unless we know we can finish – better yet, if we know we can finish and the work will be good. And not only good but good enough that other people will love it. Even better, other people will love it so much they’ll pay for it and then we will finally know that time invested in making art was worth it

Is making your art worth the time if it doesn’t make money?
Is making your art worth the time if other people don’t appreciate it?
Is making your art worth the time if sometimes even you don’t like it?
Is making your art worth it if you run out of time before completing every project?

When is art-making worth it?

My answer is, “Always.”

I have dozens of projects I want to bring to you in the studio and 5 books so real that I can call them by name. It’s hard to make some wait in line while I work on others but I know that’s the way for me to make progress. I have no idea how many of these projects I will be able to bring into being during my lifetime, nor do I know how any of them will be received. All I know is that I will use the time I have to create what I can. I hope you’ll do the same.

Be Your Own Best Teacher

As a creative coach, I have heard so many stories from people being shut down by their teachers. Writing teachers who were dismissive. Art teachers that gave no instruction. Body-shaming dance teachers. Impatient music teachers. Acting teachers that overlooked all but a few.

Some of us have walked with those art wounds for decades!

I want to share an approach to healing but first let me acknowledge the tremendous blessings of good teachers. The ones that see us. The ones that impart knowledge and transfer skills. The ones that inspire us to follow our instincts and to keep going even when the learning is tough. Here’s to the encouragers, the believers and the mentors and the difference they make in our lives.

To this day my dance teacher, Marjorie, informs the way I show up in the studio every single day. That’s how I know that we can show up for ourselves as good teachers. We can be the best teacher for our wounded artist selves.

When someone’s approach knocked you down or left you out, what were you aching for? What did your budding artist need? How can you give yourself that today?

So often we repeat the harmful behaviours of our teachers, as though we are caught in a loop. We are our own worst critique. Our self-talk is judgmental and mean. We deprive ourselves of creative resources or stick to shabby supplies because our ‘hobby’ is not worthy of investment. In contrast, we might invest in the ‘talent’ of a loved one (often our child) because we find it easier to believe in them than in ourselves. We are being supportive but we are also perpetuating the idea that only a few are chosen.

Let’s do it differently

Let’s learn to be good teachers to ourselves.

Replace the embedded self-criticism and harsh self-talk with the loving and encouraging words you longed to hear. Write your artist self a supportive letter so you can read it again and again. Record a message of love and belief in yourself. Pile on the praise for what you are proud of. Put your art on the fridge.

Protect your sweet creative soul against the naysayers, the haters, the critics and the gatekeepers. Don’t let them define you, your creative work or your potential. As you dance or draw or film or sculpt or bake or make your jewellery, decide that it is worthy of your time, your love, your heart, your effort, your investment and your attention.

And when you feel strong and sturdy, look for teachers and resources that will help you grow your gifts. So often we stop the healing process at allowing ourselves to ‘play’. We do this because we believe that as long as we’re not trying to be skilled, we are outside the realm of judgment and are therefore safe. Playing is awesome and also, you deserve to learn, my love. You deserve to learn how to play your guitar, to read music, to throw pots, to use a sewing machine, to draw in perspective, to mix colours, to knit cables, to use your camera – whatever it is that would grow your creative capacity so there is more and more room for you to pour your artist’s heart in. These are just skills to be learned – and you can learn them.

When you become a loving and encouraging teacher to yourself, your artist’s heart will heal and your potential will at long last be revealed.

Over 50 Ways to Lift Your Spirits

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when I say that things have felt heavy for quite a long time. This week I realized just how many of my strategies for tough times are about easing down and settling in, especially during winter, but right now my spirit craves some lightness!

I’m not talking about stepping over the hard stuff or our big feelings. I’m talking about rising out of the muck long enough to shake off what doesn’t need to be there. I’m talking about giving our spirits a chance to remember exuberance and joie de vivre.

I started gathering a list of the kinds of things that lift me up and then I invited people on social media* to do the same. So this week I have for you…

A List for Lifting Your Spirits!

  • Fresh air, dancing, having a shower, changing the sheets, eating fruit, tidying my desk, beautiful scents, sunshine, kids books (Jamie)
  • Fresh flowers, singing, swinging on a swing, being on the edge of any body of water (Brittany)
  • Walking to my studio and being mindful (Joy)
  • I enjoy watching birds at the feeder. If you don’t have a feeder there is actually YouTube videos showing bird feeders. My cat likes to watch those. (Cheryl)
  • Flowers and deep, beautiful fragrances. Coffee and in-person convo with friends who share belly laughs (Ozarkmamaw)
  • Lavender, escapism through books, old films, and deconstructing music, folks like Jamie Ridler. (Heather) (Thanks, Heather!)
  • Music, just fixing coffee for me and my hubby, and retro shows, and this week just playing in my planner-journal-sketchbook with stickers and watercolor and making collages with old and new photos. (Mayte)
  • My favorite candle, flowers, music, painting, taking a walk and observing nature. (Kristen)
  • Bird song always, fresh flowers, a lovely scented candle and just sitting still for a few moments (Linda)
  • Good books (Carol)
  • Tea, puppy snuggles, doodling and bopping around the house to bad 80’s dance tunes. (Lynne)
  • Lighting a candle as the sun slips away, flowers in the winter and walks in the snow (when it is not TOO cold) Watching my dog romp and play in snow drifts and cozy evenings by the fire. (Susan)
  • Seeing new puppies on my walk around the city. (Ellen)
  • Cooking (new and favourite things), singing and writing songs , knitting and crocheting, splitting firewood, shoveling snow, talking with friends on the phone, dancing (Alex)
  • Squirrel gazing (jlightmuse)
  • Journaling, feel good movies, good comedy movies or videos, coloring, decluttering, a hot cup of tea and a small but decedent dessert. (Angela)
  • Lighting candles, moisturizing, taking pictures, sitting in the sun, clearing the kitchen sink, opening the windows. (Tracey)
  • I like to wash dishes and tidy the kitchen (My wife likes that I do this, so I also earn major brownie points). I find it very calming. We have a regular schedule taking the dog outside, which in cold weather is something I love, and Sam seems to love too. Sometimes I’m in the here & now with Sam & the air, sometimes lost in memories. But walking a dog has always been a source of a natural high for me. (Leslie)
  • Quiet morning with my Bible and journal, bath and a novel, catnap, chopping veggies for a soup or salad, FaceTime with my granddaughter, a short walk if it’s not below zero, jigsaw puzzle, and a piece of dark chocolate (Artsyfaithchic)
  • Doing something for someone else. (Pamela)
  • My greatest joy is that a family of magpies have moved into my neighborhood. They bring me great joy and use my bird bath during the day. (Susan)
  • Dancing around my apartment to Kate Bush. (Kate)
  • A few of mine are walking by the ocean, dancing around the house to my favorite music, and watching silly cat videos on IG.(Cathy)
  • Birdsong, vibrant colors, fun designs, fashion, playing music on my piano, walking and listening to Art Juice podcast, prayer/meditation, drawing/cartooning. (Dawn)
  • Singing, walking in the woods, the smell of pine trees in the sun, laughing, good movies, soundtracks, lavender, getting lost in my art, anything by James Horner, Star Trek (new ones), Downton Abbey, Love Actually, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Big, 300. Hugs from my kids. (Sarah)
  • Walking outdoors. Painting. Reading. Puttering. (Hiro)
  • Reading a good book in my comfy bed, playing with my granddaughter, painting and art making, getting outside, hanging with my chickens, cuddling with my dog, and watching birds.(Susan M)
  • Snow! Cuddles from my pug! Good Chocolate! Hugs! (Amy-Lynn)
  • I agree with those who said birdsong is uplifting. Also walks in the woods and songs from my teen years like Lucky Star by Madonna. (Amy)
  • Doing anything creative. Being with young children or Dogs. Swimming. Music. Podcasts . Feel good movies. (Angella)
  • As for simple things that lift my spirits, I’ll add that watching the hummingbirds at our feeder is wonderful, even when some of them are running off the other birds to keep the nectar all to themselves! A walk through my local nursery is also a wonderful way to be in nature, if a botanical garden isn’t close by. (Monicathecreativebeast)
  • Snowshoeing on a bed of fresh snow. (Jeanne)
  • Skate skiing in the winter, riding my bike in the non winter months. I need to do more of these. They make me feel child like again. I will skate ski this weekend! (Suzanne)
  • Journaling, walking with my dog in nature, gratitude practice (including with our teen boys around the dinner table each night), date nights with my honey. (Lynda)
  • Music

I hope this adds to your repertoire of goodness. I found that just reading these musings soothed my soul! I hope they do the same for you. Let’s keep embracing what uplifts us and, as we do, keep lifting one another up too.

Returning to the Studio

I’m back in the Studio! Last week I tiptoed in gently. Did a little tidy up. Caught up on correspondence. Lit the fire, so to speak. And I remembered how much I love my work.

When I left my PhD in drama incomplete, I had no idea what was next. I couldn’t have envisioned the creative coaching work I do or the online courses I teach because those things literally did not exist!

When I went to my perfectly fine day job, I didn’t imagine that one day I would be running my own business, helping people reunite with their creative spirit. I just went to work knowing my soul was struggling and there had to be ‘more’.

I want you to know that just because you can’t name what you want or see where you’re going doesn’t mean that something amazing isn’t ahead.

My journey started by my recognizing three things that had always been with me: the arts, a love of people and a tendency to do my own thing.

Then I found coaching and said yes.
Then I found blogging and dove in.
Then I began working with clients.
Then I braved teaching a class.

Now I run a successful online creative studio with coaching, classes and content that has made a difference in the lives of thousands of people around the world!

I am in the right place doing the right thing even though I had no idea where I was going for most of the journey.

Even if you don’t know where you are going, you can get there from here.

What do you love? What has always been with you? What brave action will you take next?