Thursday, March 27, 2008

The winner is...

(Click here to view Binky's art on her website.)

What lovely, thoughtful responses to my art card challenge! Thank you for sharing your visions. May you all find abundance with your respective goals.

Writing down your ideas can be so helpful in actually making things happen. In graduate school, I had to create my own syllabus for each term. I had to write down my learning objectives, my reading list, and my assignments. I'm so glad that this self-directed learning was part of my creative writing program! Even after grad school, I created syllabi for my writing life, including things I wanted to learn, books I wanted to read, poems I wanted to write. Each syllabus became a guide or map for me once I left the structure (and accountability) of school. Imagine writing your own syllabus for some aspect of our life. Do you think this would work for you? Your syllabus need not be dry and crusty either; you can make it juicy and full of color and life. If the word "syllabus" makes you feel stiff all of the sudden, you can replace that word with "my treasure map" or "my fairy godmother scroll" or "my funkalicious goals."

Try this:

Choose one area of your life for which you'd like more structure, attention, and guidance. Think of all the ways you'd like to engage with this area of your life and create a syllabus. Write your objectives/goals, your list of juicy activities (with specific information related to due dates, times, frequency, etc.), your resources (books, movies, concerts, presentations), and your desired outcomes. Be sure to make this document fit you (this is all about you; no one is grading you on anything!). If you want color-crayon flower borders, go for it! See if creating a guide like this gives you a bit more structure to follow through with your goals. Let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Just one day left...

...for you to enter to win a set of my art cards! Click here for more information. Good luck, art lovers!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

This is What Doggie Reiki Looks Like

This very relaxed dog is Bailey. For her birthday this year, Bailey's generous human companions gave her the gift of a Reiki session with me. Lucky me!

I love giving animal Reiki, and it was a joy to work with sweet (and energetic!) Bailey. Now to be clear, Bailey did not stay in this position for a whole hour. She circled and rolled around and scouted out sounds in the house and gave me kisses and wagged her tail a lot. This is quite common during sessions with dogs. I often give Reiki in doses, waiting until a dog is ready to receive the energy (you know: a little Reiki here, a little Reiki there). Sometimes it takes a while for very energetic and active dogs to slow down. What seemed to calm Bailey the most was when I placed one hand on her chest over her heart and the other between her shoulder blades. This position is often quite comforting for dogs (it makes them feel safe and reassured), and in the case of Bailey, it let me feel her heartbeat slow from a racing to a resting pace. [Insert big, deep doggie breath here.]

I also think this hand placement is particularly effective with dogs because dogs are very heart-centered creatures. The love, affection, and acceptance they receive from humans is of paramount importance to them. I also believe their capacity for strong loyalty comes from this heart place as well. When we connect to their heart, we may well be connecting to their raison d'etre.

Try this:

If you are a companion (or friend) to a dog who tends to be very energetic or anxious, try the technique I describe above: place one hand on the chest over the heart and one on the back between the shoulder blades. Breathe slow deep breaths so your dog can feel your energy shift to one of relaxation, too. Feel your own heartbeat slow as your dog's does as well. Not only does this exercise help relax your dog, but it also allows you to have a calm, connecting moment with your canine friend.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Art Card Give-Away

As some of you know, in addition to posting on this blog, I also post my art on my other blog, Quiet Girl Gallery. I began that blog as a way to get myself creating art on a more regular basis. My goal was to create at least one art piece a week and to post it. It's been over two years, and I'm still at it. It's amazing what a little structure will do!

So here's your challenge, if you're up for it. You can enter to win the above set of my art cards (six in all) if you do the following:

* Post in the comments box of this blog entry and mention something you wish or plan to do on a more regular basis. Maybe it's taking a walk everyday or meditating twice a week. It could be that you'd like to be sure to receive at least one massage a month. Or perhaps, like me, you need some structure for creating. You could journal every morning when you wake up, paint every Wednesday evening, or play your drums every Sunday morning. Think about both the level of your desire as well as your particular needs regarding structure.

*Be sure to include your name somewhere in the post and an email address (or a link to your own blog/website) where I can contact you if you are the winner.

I'll draw the winning name in exactly one week on March 27.

Good luck...and happy planning!


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Your Relationship to Time

I've been slowly reading (savoring, really) Sarah Susanka's inspiring book The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters. I'm now at the section which includes an exercise in identifying my relationship to time. After all, if I ever feel "too busy" in that vague, but real way many of us experience, it will help to know in what ways I am busy. Am I doing things that don't truly serve me? Do these things snatch up my time when I could be doing things that fulfill me or simplify my life?

Sarah is generous in providing a downloadable copy of her "Time Orientation Questionnaire" on her website.

Click here to download the .pdf questionnaire so you can explore your relationship to time.

As Susanka writes, "with your answers to all of these questions, you have the raw material with which to evaluate your life's relative balance." What do you notice about how you spend your time? Are there any changes you'd like to make?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I juggle a lot of identities and worlds. How about you?

For instance, I'm a small business professional taking care of marketing and financial details; I am a healer giving massage and Reiki to my clients; I am an artist carving out moments to play with wax and paint; I am a writer who writes blog posts and little poem snippets on napkins; I am a daughter caring for my father in the hospital; I am a friend who offers support and hugs; I am a partner to my sweetheart and a "mommy" to two cats; I am a host or a guest at gatherings or parties; and the list goes on.

When I embody each of these identities, one or two of aspects of my personality rise to the surface and sort of "take over" (but not in that Invasion of the Body Snatchers kind of way). In effect, I put on a different mask each time I am in a different situation. And then there are the subtle masks I wear during each tiny moment of my day, as Charlene Geiss and Claudia Jessup explore in the section on "The Masks I Wear" in their book Inner Outings:

"For instance, we wear the face of carefree nonchalance with the one we have a crush on because we feel too vulnerable to show our true feelings. We take on the facade of robotic overcompetence to hide our nervousness around our intimidating boss. We appear in control with our children, even when our emotional world is falling apart. We try to impress our parents with an aura of confidence and authority. We disguise our feelings when our best pal marries someone we don't like, rather than risk ruining the friendship. Then there is the mask we wear when we have failed at a relationship or other endeavor to see as if we don't care."

Each of these examples may produce different reactions (or masks) for you, but the point is that we wear masks everyday -- even without fully realizing it. I remember that my voice used to rise about twelve octaves when I spoke to my grandparents on the phone. I gave them a sweet, girlish voice even when I was a full-grown adult dealing with real-life, gritty stuff. It took me years to stop doing that high-pitched voice (even when I was fully aware of it), and finally, during the last few years of my grandmother's life, I was able to speak to her like an adult and tell her if things weren't going so well.

So, what masks do you wear?

Try this:

Pull out your journal and start freewriting about all the ways you change in different circumstances. Remember that this is a natural thing we all do, and sometimes it is very appropriate and necessary. So many things you write will make perfect sense to you. But keep writing until you find a mask that you wear that is curious to you. When you get to a place where you truly question a certain mask you wear, go deeper. Keep writing until you understand the dynamics of this particular mask emerging. Do you wear it to protect you? Protect someone else? Is it helpful to you? Does it enable a certain behavior? Should it stay because it is actually quite useful? Or do you need a new mask now?

Now create a visual representation of this mask that you are trying to understand. Use whatever art medium you are drawn to (pens, pain, collage materials, fabric, etc.) and see if by creating this mask you are able to understand it on a whole new level.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Spring Cleaning

As you can see from the little changes with the design of this blog, I'm doing a bit of interior design and spring cleaning. I know it is not yet spring, but I am pretending that it is. On Sunday I cleaned out my closet and filled a bag full of items to donate. Ah, I felt so much lighter. And have you been noticing the lovely racket the birds are making in the mornings? Spring is certainly on its way.

This blog design process is a work in progress, so I appreciate your patience (and kind words of support like "Go Spring Cleaning Girl!") as I tinker with things here a bit. I hope to create a much more extensive links bar with many wonderful sites and blogs for you to check out. If you have a blog that you feel reflects my "creative and healing spaces" theme, feel free to send me an email and a link to your site.

Happy March to you, dear readers. And may you feel in your body the positive effects of more daylight, warmer temperatures, and emerging green growing things.

Mixed media collage above (title: "Spring Feeling") by Courtney Putnam.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


9" x 12" collage painting: "Confidence," Courtney Putnam

I made this piece in college, which was about ten years ago. In my "Dreams, Imagination, and Creativity" class (yes, I went to an alternative college -- Fairhaven College to be exact), we had to keep a creativity journal of all of our writing, art, and other musings. This piece above was one of the pages in my journal. If I am remembering correctly, I was responding to a Julia Cameron exercise from The Vein of Gold--which we were required to read for the class, lucky us. The exercise involved creating a "Treasure Map," which is essentially a collage that is aimed "specifically at a desired outcome...and they can be used to galvanize the spiritual world to produce desired material results." These maps may also reflect accomplishments you wish to have or qualities you wish to embody.

I struggled with confidence all through my college years, and particularly struggled with my "quietude." Creating my treasure map above helped to remind how my quiet nature was a gift and enabled me to feel deeply, listen to others intently, and feed my creative urges.

During my two abundance box workshops, the issue of confidence emerged for several of the participants. I felt the energy in the room shift to a feeling of resonance and relief each time someone mentioned wanting to feel more confident in an area of their life. For so many of us, the feeling of confidence waxes and wanes and when it's on its waning cycle, things can feel like they are crumbling. During these times, I find it helpful embrace the areas for which we feel lack of confidence. After all, you may discover, like I did, that you hold powerful gifts you never fully understood you had.

Try this: Create a Confidence "Treasure Map"

Using collage, glitter, paint, crayons, or whatever you wish, depict an area of your life for which you'd like to feel more confidence. As you create, remember to focus on why it is you'd like to feel more confident in this area of your life. And let yourself feel positive about the areas that feel strong and lovely and joyful, too.

Feel free to leave a comment and post a link to your creation!