5 Self-Care Practices for Maximizing Your Creative Flow + FREE Training & PDF

 

I have been making these five self-care practices into more of a regular, daily practice as I see the benefits they have on my energy and creativity. While I can’t say I came up all of these myself (no, I didn’t invent meditation!), I’m sharing them because I hope you’ll consider trying them to boost your creative output and improve your life. I’m also sharing them as a way to hold myself accountable: I’m publicly committing to maintaining these habits—they’re that good!

 1. No Negative Self Talk

Did your parents have high expectations of you?  Are you a people pleaser? Are you judgmental of others, even silently?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, I am certain that you have a voice in your mind that harshly criticizes you. This voice is often the voice of critical parents or authority figures. Sometimes the voice is our own creation.

No matter how the voice began, its effects can be damaging to your life and disastrous to your creativity.

Train yourself to pick up on the voice of that negative inner critic. When you hear it saying something awful like, “I can’t believe you said that! That person must think you’re a horrible” STOP and gently take the microphone from the critic, and hand it over to your inner loving parent and cheerleader.

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Oh yes—take that mic as your own best cheerleader and loving parent. Reframe the negative messages as realistic, positive messages. Think about what you’d say to your best friend, child, or young relative if they blurted out what the inner critic had said. 

There are scientific reasons to avoid negative self-talk: psychologists have proven that we all have a confirmation bias.

This means that we subconsciously look for (and find) proof for our preconceived beliefs. So if you tell yourself that you aren’t a talented artist and you’re terrible at growing your audience and connecting with buyers, you will find evidence that confirms that belief. If you are actively fighting these negative messages (c’mon, inner cheerleader!), you will actively dispute these beliefs and find opportunities.

Be sure to download the list of positive affirmations at the end of this post—these are great examples of positive self-talk!

2. Gratitude


I’ve found that my life changes in powerful ways when I take inventory of all the ways I’ve been blessed. I know yours can, too. I hope you’ll try this. A few weeks ago, I allowed myself to feel deep gratitude to my group of collectors, and then I sent them a newsletter including a message of thanks from a collector, along with a photo of a framed painting he bought. I wrote, “I’m so grateful. Thank you guys!” 
 


Coming at life from a place of gratitude completely shifts everything. Try it!

3. Morning Mindshift

If you're like me, when you wake up in the morning, is your mind flooded with your list of “to do’s. You can have some plans to take care of yourself but ONLY when you reach the end of your to-do list—only to find that there is never time for it!

It’s time for a morning mindshift.

I don’t know what your morning entails. You may rise before dawn with kids to care for or roll out of bed mid-morning after a late shift. What I do know is this:

Your day is about more than your obligations, and your worth is about more than the tasks you accomplish.

In the training below, I talk about a subtle difference I made each morning to help me ease into work more gently. It really helps!
 

4. Meditation

Do you meditate? It’s been scientifically proven that meditation increases the amount of grey matter in the brain. There are so many benefits to meditation, so I have been very interested in becoming a regular meditator. When I was in Europe in December, I had a real breakthrough—I was able to see my thoughts float by like clouds, without judging them, and the feeling was amazing. I’m hooked!

5. Nighttime Ritual

What are your last thoughts of the day? Are they about what didn’t get done? About what needs to be done tomorrow? About the calamities that might happen in the future?

I am no stranger to bedtime anxiety. Becoming more mindful helped me become aware of what was leading to this state. Finally I grabbed a pad of paper one night and did a brain dump: I wrote down all of the things that were swirling in my mind, from the trivial to the heavy-duty. It really helped!
 

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Since then, I have kept that pad next to the bed and continued this practice. It’s the most effective and healthy sleep aid I’ve ever found! The pad is also helpful for those amazing ideas I get in the middle of the night—in the morning, some of them seem hilarious or bizarre, but others are truly gems and I’m glad I captured them!

 

Optimum self-care is critical for optimum creative output. You can only neglect yourself for so long before there’s a breakdown. I hope you found some ideas here that you’ll implement into your routines and benefit from. Please share your own self-care practices in the comments!



Don’t forget to download my free positive affirmations and if you'd like more support around self-care, watch my free training!

 

 

Feeling better in 2018: RSVP for FREE live event!

Happy 2018,

 

Have you noticed the trend?


Each year on January 1, our social media feeds are filled with goals and resolutions to be better.

To live better.
To look better.
To do better.

But instead of making new resolutions for how I want to change or improve this year, I'm focusing on how I want to feel and how I can incorporate more softness, fullness, and nourishment into my daily life.

I'm not one for resolutions, but if I would choose one right now it would be to focus on daily self-care.

What is self-care?


Self-care is taking the time to identify what you need in order to be your best self and show up fully in your daily life, and then actually giving yourself those things.
You may have heard the expression "You can't pour from an empty cup".



When you're burnt out and overwhelmed, you essentially go into zombie mode. You're unable to think of creative solutions to problems that arise, or engage in activities you love because you are physically and mentally exhausted.

So this year, I'm taking steps to make sure that doesn't happen. And this Friday, I'm sharing a FREE live training on self-care practices you can steal to make 2018 your best year yet at 1:00pm EST.

If you can't make it live, don't worry! Click the link above and I'll send you the replay recording after we're done. Make sure to register now, as this totally FREE training will likely be offered as a paid product in the future!

I'll be back in your inbox tomorrow with more on creativity + self-care, specifically geared towards artists ;)

xo,
Amira

Beginning Again: My Sedona Story

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A few week ago, I escaped to Sedona to paint

 

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I just got back from a painting workshop in Sedona, Arizona, after barely making it there in the first place. As you may have read in my previous blog post, I almost talked myself out of going due to deadlines and work overload. Now, I’m shaking my head in disbelief—I can’t believe I almost denied myself this restorative experience! Thank goodness I changed my mind. Both the workshop and Sedona were beyond worthwhile.  

 

 

 

 

The workshop was not a technique-based class. I saw it as a space for me to experiment with new subject matter and to push myself outside my limits and beyond my comfort zone. I went in with a strategy: I decided to try to paint as if I’d never painted before. I told the facilitator that I deliberately “forgot” how to paint and I was happy about that. I decided to approach my work with new eyes, because I think we tend to work within self-imposed limitations—we all have stories we tell ourselves, like “I’m not good at figure painting” or “I’m not good at painting florals.” So I decided, “I don’t know anything, so I guess I kind of know everything!” I felt like I had that youthful naiveté we all have before anyone tells you you’re not good at something.

 

I actually produced a portrait painting for the first time in so long that it felt like my first time. I found myself painting faces and figures, which is so unlike my usual work! I found myself experiencing a sense of possibilities unfolding and confidence rising. I’m excited to explore more figures and florals in my work in the future. Painting in Sedona gave me permission to explore new subject matter in my work. I don’t think I would have tried those new areas if I hadn’t gone there.

 

I was also very prolific at this workshop! Being engulfed in that mountain landscape made me feel free. I felt that a huge weight was off my shoulders. I felt at peace and I was able to just play.

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With all of the painting I did, you’d think that I wouldn’t have had time to enjoy the town of Sedona, but I found time for that. I even had my aura color read (lavender, of course!). Sitting in the square and listening to the magical sounds of a Native American flute being played while I drank my coffee, staring at the incredible stars at night, and watching the light change over the colorful mountains all helped me decompress and recharge.

 

 I meditated on the rocks sitting at the base of Sedona's most photographed site "Cathedral Rock" and it inspired the title for my painting " Meditation on the Rocks "

I meditated on the rocks sitting at the base of Sedona's most photographed site "Cathedral Rock" and it inspired the title for my painting "Meditation on the Rocks"

How about you? Whether it’s in your artwork, your health, or your personal life, what self-imposed limits have you created? Have you pushed yourself beyond them, or are you thinking about it? Can you become a beginner again, even for a week? Give yourself permission and set yourself free!

P.S. Would you like to paint with me this month?

This trip gave life to my "Real, Raw Abstract Painting" live studio sessions. I traveled far and wide to get to Sedona and I realized not everyone can afford to drop what they're doing and travel cross-country. We have a lot of commitments and responsibilities, and so art workshops can truly be a bit of a luxury. I wanted to bring the workshop experience to you. We've had  artists from all over the world participate so far and I'd love for you to join me this month for the second session of learning, inspiration, and encouragement.

Click here >>> Join me in the second installment of "Real, Raw Abstract Painting - Live Studio Session" next week! 

P.P.S.  I share my Artist story further this month on the "Support is Sexy" podcast with Elayne Fluker. Enjoy!

Let's Talk About Self-Care in September

September deserves its own “before and after” photo. Before September, we are pretty relaxed, riding the summer vibe. By the end of September, we’re frazzled and frantic, crushed by the sudden amping-up of our schedule and our expectations. Those with kids in school are overwhelmed by the new school year’s adjustments. Every one of us also faces a big realization in September: the end of the year is a few weeks away. We take stock of our goals and resolutions and recommit ourselves to them. How many of you participated in the 30 Paintings in 30 Days project this September? I want to give a huge congratulations to anyone who successfully completed it—and a big hand to anyone who gave it a try!

 

I’m with you—I too faced the September stress mess this past month. As I reflect on it now, I see how critical my self-care practices were to getting me through it in one piece. I’d like to share some of them with you, and I’d love to hear about some of your self-care tips and routines in the comments.

I Deleted Facebook

Deleting Facebook from my phone was a productivity hack but it also had a positive impact on my mindset. I felt less distracted by constant notifications, which are so hard to ignore and even harder to not respond to in the moment—all pulling me away from my work and out of my flow. Interacting on Facebook became a mindful activity that I would accomplish when I sat down at my desk.

Rituals

My morning rituals have proven to be a powerful way to ground myself for the day:

  • Staying off my phone first thing in the morning and doing short meditation or journaling sessions instead. This is the best way to set my intentions for the day and get in touch with myself. The day starts with peace and not from a place of reactivity.

  • Some days I use Louise Hay’s wonderful book Mirror Work to guide me through self-love exercises or mirror work exercises.

  • I have also found that starting my day by diffusing essential oils makes a powerful difference in my frame of mind. My favorite type of oils are Doterra oils. Do any of you use oils? If so, I’d love to know how you use them and what your favorites are.

 

 

Investing in joy

As September wore on, I struggled with whether or not I could—or should—attend an art workshop in Sedona that I’m registered for that takes place the first week in October. If you follow me on Facebook or IG or both haha, you are aware that I even offered up my spot. I had a lot of thoughts of resistance, such as thinking that I was way too busy and that I didn’t need to guilt myself over skipping it. But after practicing some of my grounding rituals, I was able to realize that I’m not as overwhelmed as I was letting myself feel. I can give myself the gift and investment of this five-day workshop. This is an act of self-love.

The fact is, too, that I could always talk myself out of going to an art workshop: if things are busy, I could tell myself I can’t get away; if things are slower, I could convince myself that I need to stay home and hustle to pick things up. The bottom line is that I know that I deserve and need to be inspired and rejuvenated by these retreats. They are an investment in myself. Taking good care of myself and investing in myself have led to abundance and prosperity, so I need to keep up my end of the bargain.

Returning to San Miguel, Mexico

Speaking of art retreats—I attended a life-changing retreat with the remarkable Desha Peacock in San Miguel de Allende last winter. Her retreats for creative entrepreneurs sell out every year, and for good reason: phenomenal content and leadership in an inspiring setting (a beautiful mansion in a gorgeous artist town). Desha is an amazing and very present retreat leader, and I found this retreat very nourishing. It was a large investment, and I felt that it was worth it—and I am worth it. I am thrilled to be returning in Jan 28-Feb 3, 2018 to teach an art session as part of the retreat!  There are only two more spaces left. Would you like to come? Take a look at the link, and let’s meet in San Miguel!

I hope that the beginning of October finds you well. I hope you are taking good care of yourself and investing in yourself. You deserve it! I look forward to sharing my trip to Sedona with you, and to hearing about how you practiced self-care to get through September!

I had a Paradigm Shift About Money While Living Solo in Mexico

I had a revelation that rocked my world while doing an art residency in Mexico—and it had nothing to do with painting.

 

I was thrilled to be in Oaxaca, and I loved Mexico, but I wasn’t carefree. As an artist entrepreneur, my business cash flow ebbs and flows. I’m careful to always maintain personal savings, but it’s hard to not be anxious when my business cash flow dips too low. While in Oaxaca, it was dipping and one large reason for it was because a former collaborator owed me a large sum of money. I felt hurt and stressed about being stiffed by this person, even though I wasn’t the only victim.

The fact that I had recently gone through a big breakup also weighed me down even more. Some would say that dashing off to another country is a great escape, but I can testify that being a stranger in a foreign land where you barely speak the language and you don’t have close friends or family for support is not a magic breakup balm! It’s more like a recipe for loneliness.

My money anxiety was about to have a big relief—my licensing company was due to pay me a cushy check that would cover my business expenses for the next couple months. These infusions of security and cash flow are what artists (and all business owners) dream of!

And yet I clearly remember the day that the commission check was deposited into my bank account. I didn’t feel elated. I felt numb.

Where was the joy? Why wasn’t I reveling in feelings of security?

There I was, alone in Oaxaca and completely in love with Mexico, and so excited to keep exploring after finishing my residency in Puebla—and yet I was becoming more and more depressed.

 " Cholula " 30x30" mixed media on canvas, Mexico 2017

"Cholula" 30x30" mixed media on canvas, Mexico 2017

 

Just before I left for Mexico, I watched a documentary called Minimalism on Netflix. The film states that the things that we do and the things we think we want are due to unseen fears and desires. We spend time, energy, and lots of money acquiring things to fill a void, but since we aren’t addressing the core need/fear, we remain unfulfilled. These needs can be extrinsic (external), such as wanting approval from others, or wanting to be liked. They can also be intrinsic (internal), such as fears about being alone, fears of not being special, or fears of being unworthy.

I think the intrinsic fears are the scariest to tap into.

Minimalism was a thought-provoking movie, and I think some soul-searching questions that it brought up were percolating in me while I was in Mexico. When I felt no fulfillment at the five-figure commission payment, I came face-to-face with the void in me that had been left unfulfilled: my need for family.

There’s a wonderful quote by Rumi: “What you seek is seeking you.”

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I realized that what I had been seeking all along was something that I was already blessed with—a loving and supportive family. And yet I had been living away from them for more than 10 years, between college, living in the United Arab Emirates for three years, and other travel. I suddenly knew that I needed to be near them.

Shortly after this realization, I left Mexico and returned to my hometown. I had a lot of emotions and grief to face and work through, and I needed a lot of self work (and an amazing therapist) to get through it. I am glad to be living near my family now, and I still enjoy traveling both within the United States and internationally. In fact, think I enjoy travel even more now that I have grounded myself more firmly in a home base.

We all want things in life, but when we have a glimpse of insight into the root—our deepest needs and desires—it is truly profound, and it can right our course.

I won’t say that money doesn’t matter to me; I also know it’s a cliché to say that money doesn’t buy happiness. I respect money, and it can make life more convenient. I grew up in one of the poorest cities in New Jersey, and I’m very grateful for how far I’ve come. But in Mexico I realized money could not fix how I felt. Money is powerless to cure depression; it can’t help you love yourself; and to my surprise it didn’t even make me feel more secure.

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This post is about my experience, but I hope it gives you food for thought. What are the deepest motivations that you have for what you do—for your goals—for what you buy? Do you have a void in your life? If so, are you filling it with things that don’t serve you instead of making the needed changes or doing the inner work? These are deep questions that can lead to profound insights. I wish you the best!

Amira xox

P.S. Please comment below and/or share this post if you found it beneficial. Share the wealth! <33