One-Handed Mandy Report

-- Absentmindedly carried a can of beans across the kitchen with my left hand. No pain, no cause for alarm. #ready
-- PT at home = stretch & strengthen. My hand no longer feels like it's going to flop off my arm when I take the brace off for PT.
-- Sixth week is a balance between stir-crazy & tired. Overwhelm and pain are long gone. The worst is behind me. Now there's just the waiting. #ready
-- Appt in two weeks. Might be my last. Might wear a cap and gown. #ready #ready #ready

One-Handed Mandy

Broken wrist, surgery, recovery. Will be a while before I'm back in the studio, but making the most of it.

Yes to your adventure?

"The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure." Joseph Campbell


As quoted from Brene Brown's Rising Strong. I'm slowly working my way through this book, digesting her words about our falling and rising, about integrating all aspects of ourselves from the good to the bad, owning our stories in ways that make us strong, whole, and wholehearted.

All of this comes at a time where I am working hard to embrace my adventure: to integrate aspects of myself that are not easy to own: my High Sensitivity and consequent social anxiety. Working within one, working my way out of another.

Want to achieve your dreams?

Well friends, things would not be as they are without my LifeBook system. It's my own custom-made way to get it done while chasing all of my artistic dreams. And 'tis the season for organizing and planning and readying ourselves for a new year! If you're thinking about planners or new organizational systems, give this a look. It's just for you! [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5EL2IPeaWw[/embed]

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at [Dec 9] 8.05What is a LifeBook?

Your LifeBook is your very own custom-made life and dream organization system. It is a book that you build specifically for your goals, interests, and tasks. Your LifeBook holds goals both big and small. It holds important information for all areas of your life. It holds important ideas and lists. It holds details and tasks for each month. And then it breaks all of that down into manageable day-to-day pages. It's more than a planner, it's a system to organize and implement your dreams while growing as an individual and mastering your daily to-dos.

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I started "LifeBooking" out of my own digital frustration. Apps and to-do programs just didn't give me the heart and soul behind my day-to-day efforts. My LifeBook puts my dreams and important areas of life FIRST, which is what makes it so powerful.

This LifeBook Course is designed to help you create your own LifeBooking system. By the end, you will have your own LifeBook with your own unique plans and dreams. Your LifeBook won't look exactly like mine, and won't hold the same contents as mine. And that is the goal: To make an organization system that works for YOU. If you can make it work for you, then it WILL work!


Course Details:

FIVE SESSIONS, delivered via email, for $45.

The emails will roll through upon completion of each session. This means you can complete the entire course in a day or a weekend or a week. It is self-paced both for those of you who need to get organized now and for those of you who want to spend some thoughtful time preparing your LifeBook system!

  1. Let's Start LifeBooking! We dig deeper into the LifeBook system and begin the dream and planning stages! By the end of this session you will have an intimate understanding of how I use my LifeBook as well as a precise list of materials to create your own!
  2. Build Your LifeBook! We take the materials listed in Session One and assemble your LifeBook which will be unique to your own goals and needs. Just think: your very own LifeBook!

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  3. Turn Your Dreams into Reality: This is an important session where we create plans for the "big-daddy-dreaming-big" goals you want to accomplish. We will make the impossible possible! Ohyeswewill!!
  4. The Magic of Month-Making: We take an entire year and break it down into bite-sized months that incorporate your "big-daddy-dreaming-big" steps as well as giving each month a specific focus for personal expansion. A little intention goes a long way, y'all.
  5. Mastering Your Day-To-Day: In this session we address your specific organizational needs as it relates to how your day-planner side of the LifeBook is organized. We will talk about page layouts, areas of importance, and implementing the plans and to-dos of your calendar and months and dreams!

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Each session will include:

  • An encouraging and informative video from Mandy.
  • A PDF guide for each session.
  • Printable worksheets to break down the efforts and elements of each session.

Also included:

  • Printable graphics to add to your LifeBook.
  • A variety of Custom Layouts for the Day-to-Day section of your book.
  • A growing list of ideas that others are using in their books.


Session 5 Quote 1 Sess 4 Quote 2 Sess 3 Quote 2

Why sign up?

  • You want to live with intention by planning and tracking it, not just "thinking" it.
  • You need a method for chasing those "big-daddy-dreaming-big" goals.
  • You are looking for a way to integrate all the boxes and corners of your life.
  • Traditional paper planners and current digital apps just don't fit your needs.

You need a system that will turn your dreams into reality while ticking away at the day-to-day elements of life, all in a format that works for you.

Sign-up for this self-paced course and get started whenever you want to!

When you register, you will immediately begin receiving your LifeBooking emails! Here we go!

Sign up here and start LifeBooking! ($45 via Paypal)

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LifeBook: My Productivity & Dream Chasing Planner

Lifebook Post Image Claire Burge, an international productivity expert, has picked up on my LifeBook Process and now my Facebook crowd is asking for a course on this. (WHAT!!)

In short, my LifeBook is a beautiful way for me to chase my dreams and others have adopted these methods already, to do the same. Since sharing this info on Claire's site, others have implemented the LifeBook system and are already asking questions about how to tweak it to make it work for them. It sounds like more of us share in the frustration that DayPlanners and Productivity Apps just don't offer the versatility we need. So we're making it up for ourselves!

"Do you find yourself wanting more out of your own task-list manager? Am I allowed to confess that I gave up on digital task managers altogether?

It’s true… I experimented with a number of platforms before I decided to delete all the apps and make my own. Well, make my own book. Not app. I’m an analog girl at heart. :)

I want to introduce you to my LifeBook. Think DayPlanner on inspirational steroids, with the super-power of “customization.” It is exactly the sort of task-list manager that I need, as an artist and wife and mommy who wants to keep my eye on the big picture. It’s quite possible that some of you find that this little dreambook is the answer to some of your organizational needs! In fact, I give you full permission to take what you want from my book, and leave the rest."

Read More:

Many many thanks to Claire for catching this idea and sharing it with the world! I'm excited about those who have already implemented this system in their lives and can't wait to help others do the same.

How you can force creative inspiration...

muse headline Y’all are going to think I’m crazy. Force inspiration?

But I *know by experience* that it can be done. The pursuit of my creative dreams depend on this.

And so does yours.

You can force inspiration by creating a list of regular wells that you draw from. You already know these wells, you just may not have realized it: They spark your brain and give you that "OOH I wanna go create something!" feeling.

Otherwise, we are fatigued and feel little motivation and usually end up flipping through the internet or wandering around aimlessly.

Who has time to wait for the muse???

What makes a good well of inspiration? Easy access, immediate resonance, inspires you to action, fuels you with ideas.

You know these wells, you already have them. Now you get to use them strategically!

I'll give you some of go-to wells of inspiration:

  • Pinterest, after tweaking incoming boards and pins. (Quiet the noise, y'all.)
  • My favorite artists' online galleries. (I want to be like them when I grow up.)
  • Mixed Media digital magazines. (Ideas ideas!)
  • Podcasts and how-to-videos. GREAT place for ideas!
  • Gasp: My own work. (Sometimes I can flip through my own pages and my brain goes “oh remember how fun this is!?” and I’m right back in the groove.)
  • The right kind of music. (Naturally, my music-of-choice depends on the mood.)

So, what are some of your go-to wells of inspiration? Share some here, and plan to visit them the next time you're feeling a little low on inspiration.

...because we don't have time to wait for the muse.

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Falling into routine, and rising within it.

The start of school is behind us. Fall is here and I am settling back into the rhythm and flow of full-time artistry. IMG_9784-2.JPGMy creative days are dependent on their start, so I am diligent to give myself the time and input they need. If I don't secure this time for myself, I feel the effects all day: behind and sluggish and uninspired.  The mornings are early, blindingly early. The house is dark, save for my corner of the kitchen, and this is the time when I can see most clearly.

My morning routine includes coffee, silence, journaling, reading, breakfasting, and meditating. These pieces run together like a plate of spaghetti: one whole, but many indiscernible parts. All bring delicious sustenance for a creative day.

By the end of my morning quiet, my pages are full, my soul is full, and my hands are itching to wrap themselves around brush and palette knife.

I've been learning about the creative routines of others (here and here are good examples). Their rhythms are so interesting to me, and shed light on what might be useful for me as well.

I know others of you are voraciously creative and are honing your own routines. I'm curious: What helps you? What do you need to jumpstart your creative days?


A Being-Present Present, for you.

Do you pack your mind full of everything but what is happening right now? Me too. No wonder we're so overwhelmed. We're trying to think about today, tomorrow, and yesterday all at the same time.

But, oh, it doesn't have to be so...

One of the ways you can pull yourself back into the present is to use a mindfulness system that looks at what's happening in your external world *at that present moment* and then looks at your inner world *at that present moment.*

I created a little system to live with mindfulness, to help myself return to the present regularly.

So I made this card for us to use, that we can print out and have in our journals or stick somewhere that you look often.

If you want it, click it and download it!

Being Present Card

Oooh and I also made them for our smartphone lock screens, because that's really what we look at all day, isn't it?

Here's a few sizes for you. If your size is missing and you want it, let me know!



Leaping into the Unknown

I try to remember that the job — as well as the plight, and the unexpected joy — of the artist is to embrace uncertainty, to be sharpened and honed by it. To be birthed by it. Each time we come to the end of a piece of work, we have failed as we have leapt—spectacularly, brazenly — into the unknown. --Dani Shapiro

I can say without a doubt that every new piece is built with flailings and failings, perfect imperfections, and often the dreaded moment of "this isn't working." If it comes to such dramas, I must will myself past the panic; I fight the unknowns and mistakes, continuing to steward the concept that has come to me.

Consequently, I sit in wonder as a piece moves beautifully beyond my own anticipations and expectations. It seems to sprout wings that carry it farther than my abilities.

The muse, she certainly has wings. How else can we find it within ourselves to leap into the unknown again and again?

Words to Paint By

"The notion that I do my work here, now, like this, even when I do not feel like it, and especially when I do not feel like it, is very important. Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it. And that emotional waiver is why this is your work and not your hobby." Isabel Allende

Chasing Daylight (on morning routines)

My morning routine is fast becoming the most important element of my creative process.  I get my head in gear, my soul in check, and my body in go. It's a slow process, yes. But it is, by nature, the wandering and pondering part of my day. I spend time writing out those things that won't get out of my head. (I call this "brain drain.") I spend some time in a life-giving book (currently: Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation). I am living the questions by writing them down. I am generating ideas. I am asking myself which projects need attention today, listing my three must-do's.


Essentially, I am choosing focus and clarity. I am pushing back hurried-living and simplifying my agenda. I am "getting it together," as we say in the South.

Some might see this is as self-indulgent, but I say it is self-management. There's nothing more paralyzing than this mam-artist in hurry-worry mode. I must take care of myself before I take care of someone or something else.

So do you have a morning routine? If so, what works best for you? I'd LOVE to hear.


Marking Down, Making Room

Sale Page The clutter, I'm learning that it can smother an artist. It's in my studio these days—piles of substrates, scattered half-used paint, scraps of paper, recently finished pieces, yet-to-be-completed pieces, abandoned pieces.

It's all there.

So I'm clearing out. I'm making room, both in my physical space as well as in my mental space.

I'm also making room in my online space.

It's time to do some marking down and moving out in order to make room for what I really would like to focus on. With that decision, you have to let go of a few things.

One of the things I'm letting go of is the "Art Journal" section in my shop. Things have gotten a bit scattered in there, and I'm streamlining the store. Part of that process is discontinuing art journal prints.

So if there's one out there that's caught your attention, this the week to place that order and clear it out. They've been marked down 50% just for you. (Click on the list above to open the sale.)


Diving Into the Deep

I can't fight off the thought that I must dive deep into myself in order to pull up and out the kind of art that I'm hoping my fingers will make this year. TREE

I also can't fight off the thought that there's little down in there right now. My inner life is feels surfacey—shallow. I close my eyes to much of what would pour out at any other moment. But not right now.


I talked to myself this morning. Asked myself who was down in there.

"Hope." But that's a painting for another day.

This post, this moment, is brought to you by some of last week's makings. And maybe next week will come courtesy of my new friend Hope, who will soon have a face.

4 Plus

4 Plus I thought I was ready for the fresh clean linen smell of 2013.

And then I heard an echo in my soul—the hungry sound of my inner voice reminding me of the year I made a goal to write 100 songs. THAT was the year I called myself a songwriter.

The voice grew bold and challenging. It danced with the idea of another attempt—no, not with songs but with art. "I call myself an artist," it reminded me.

Yes. Oh big yes.

You know those moments in life when you realize there's something you must do. Like writing those bucket list items, but for people who are dead serious about their bucket list. It's the moment you feel alive at the thought; you know that this thing is an act of living. It's your expression of aliveness. It's your "I am here" mark on your own days. It's like you hug your own existence and declare to yourself "I'm so glad you came, now let's hit the road!"

I saw the wild glimmer of adventure in my own eye. I felt the artist heart in me beat just a little bit faster. I rehearsed waking up earlier. I planned to buy packs of canvas. I imagined stacks and stacks of art.

And then I told Drew, the one with the crazy idea of 100 songs, "I'm thinking about an art goal for 2013. I want to create 5 pieces each week." I outlined the details, the "rules" and parameters of this goal. He grinned. He sat back in his seat, rubbed his head in his hands, and nodded to support me in making this happen.

If all goes well, by the end of the year I will have 250 pieces to offer the world.

We were just talking about it again this morning over tea and coffee and nothing to do but talk. He asked me how I felt about this upcoming challenge. I raised my shoulders and shook with excitement. I've already stocked up on substrates and collage material. I'm already thinking of the resources I'll need to keep the muse alive. I'm scared. I'm giddy. I'm ready to see how high I can jump.


Sitting by my man on a chocolate colored couch by a simple fire with simple music streaming. I'm feeling quiet and reflective. It's time to thank 2012 for what it has given me. And think towards 2013. I've got my planner prepped. My word written. My goals for 2013 set.

We need this, don't we? We need the potential and possibility of a new year. We need the turning of the page. The start of a new calendar. We need the end-of-the-year reviews and the new-year resolutions.

We need to hit the reset button on ourselves sometimes.

This fire and this night and this giddy anticipation of 2013 has me enchanted. Why don't I do this more often? Why don't I have end-of-the-season reviews? New-season resolutions? Why don't I pick a word for each season?

Why don't I hit my personal reset button more often?

Why don't we all?

When I finish typing this sentence I will mark the change of seasons on my calendar and I will set aside time for End-of-the-Season Reviews and New-Season Resolutions, because once a year is not enough.