Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Collage Answered...

One of the coaches I approached answered with a very nicely worded email that basically said - paraphrased by me - I'm really busy. I don't think you have what it takes. I don't want to work with you. I've learned when I get these types of responses to stop and, instead of wallowing in ouch, look at what it is that person is seeing that I'm not feeling.

Do I have what it takes? In the past thirty years, I've taught locally, on-line, and across North America. I have spoken to groups from 5 to 50 to 500. I've designed a line of patterns, written a regular column, published four books, self published one book, and developed and taught over two dozen workshops. I've studied design and fit and fashion at numerous levels from personal to international and I've maintained a blog for almost as long as blogging has been around SO... yes I have what it takes. OR...

... more realistically speaking, I had what it takes. Do I have it now? While introducing myself, I told the coach about my priorities of work-life balance, continuing to develop my own creativity, and putting relationships first. These are such vital priorities now because they've been areas of difficulty in the past.

For the past few weeks, I've been thinking about making a collage so when my friend Francine was here this weekend, we both made one. My question was what does the next year hold? The collage answered first with an overall impression of calm and making a home and then with more specific details.

How I live my life is my choice. That's a simple fact however, simple and easy are not at all the same thing and very often something that is both simple and meaningful is also a lot of hard work. Simple. Not easy.

The older I get, the more important it is to me to live an authentic life and not one that is dictated by what "they" say. Why should I wear yellow if I don't like yellow or tights when they make me look like a lollipop or tiny jewelry when I prefer statement necklaces or paint my house muted colours when I like bold ones or... or... or... I have found a huge amount of freedom in ignoring the trends and doing what works for me. It's way more fun. And makes me eccentric. One day - since I'm getting older - I'll be an eccentric old lady and that has a delightful ring.

In 2017, my goal was to work toward holistic health meaning emotional, spiritual, physical, relational, and financial health as well as abundant creativity. I've since realized that this will be a lifetime goal and that at any given time I'll be working more on one area than another. The phrase The Art of Piecing speaks to me about combining together all the ingredients that maintain my priorities and fill out my life. Every time I sift and sort my home or my studio, I am picking through the pieces and determining what no longer works for me and what needs to be added. Each day I craft my existence.

Master the money issue is a really Really REALLY important phrase especially as it doesn't appear to fit with the rest of the collage. I am not terrible with money nor am I hugely in debt yet I'm also not amazing with money and I have debt that I'd rather not. I'm an intelligent, mature, responsible, reliable woman and I know I can do better in this area. I also believe that what I see in the collage is God's answer to my prayers about guidance and future direction and it is entirely possible that if I do not become far more proactive in this area, I will miss out on some of blessing and adventure that is meant to be mine. We made the collages on Friday and later that afternoon, I found Gail Vaz-Oxlade's book Debt-Free Forever on the bargain table at a local bookstore. I call that guidance too.

Working on The Outfit Project is really exciting for me. I can see that I am beginning to find my voice with creative everyday clothing and that I'm taking learning and applying it specifically to who I am and what I want which IS to life fully, to live authentically, to develop my personal style, to be who I am now and who I am becoming, to make a statement whether with a necklace or a comment, and to make it - life - memorable. The collage is covered with phrases like these. It was a bit of a surprise. I didn't realize how much I was feeling called to savor life more fully.

This picture of the woman's back will definitely mean different things to different people. To me, it exudes calm and confidence and a peaceful resting of the soul which is what I also associate with rocking chairs and I'm particularly fond of wicker rocking chairs. This one looks very much like the one I bought when I was pregnant with my first child. It has a strong association with hearth, home, and family.

I know I've mentioned previously that food, fitness, and finances are three areas I'm working on and as you can see, they all found their way into the collage. Parking thirty minutes away and walking to and from journal time at Starbucks is helping with fitness. Right after I post this, I'll start on the assignments in Gail's book and work on finances. Food is simple. It's not easy. I need to work out a plan to learn new tricks and retrain my taste buds.

If you'd like to make a collage, here is how I approach it. First, I chose an open and specific question such as what does the next year hold as opposed to am I supposed to be in business. Next, I cut a piece of poster board to the size I want to work with. Having a predesignated size forces me to really pick and choose what images and phrases get to be in the collage because I will have more pictures and phrases than space. After that, I pick about half a dozen magazines whose cover calls to me in some way. For my collage I picked one Oprah, one sewing, two gardening, and three home decor magazines. Then I quickly go through the magazines page by page and pull out anything that appeals to me and after that I go back through what I've pulled out and cut out only the phrase or part of the image that speaks to me. I do not make do. If it's not 100%, I don't keep it.

Once all the phrases and images are ready, I begin to place them on the poster board until I'm happy with what is included and how it is arranged and then I glue the pieces down and start looking for the message. Sometimes there will be an image that insists on being in the collage and you don't know why and there doesn't seem to be space for it. The picture of the dress above was like that. Not only did it want to be included, it wanted to be on the path. I may have an idea of what it means but I'm not sure yet however, I do know from experience that...

... more answers will appear over time as I continue to read the collage. You're probably wondering if I decided if I have what it takes to be in business right now. I believe the answer is a measured yes... IF... it's the business I really want, not a compromise or a capitulation. There is a path designed uniquely for me and  I do not need to manipulate and make it happen because doors will open when they are meant to open and if they are not meant to open, I will find peace with that answer. Until then, I can be calm and confident, focus on making a home, developing my creativity, and living holistically including improving the 3Fs - food, fitness, and finances which appear to be 2018's top priorities.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a fun day making collages with a friend


  1. Your collage experience is intriguing. As a retiree I don't have thoughts of a business but hubby and I have decided to move to another city closer to our daughters. This, obviously, will be a big change as we've lived in our current home for 33 years. So now we'll be leaving many friends and organizations that have filled our lives. I'm focusing on being positive but it is hard at times. Luckily my hubby is a very outgoing guy who makes friends easily which I do too though my personality is more reserved. I think the collage poster is a good start for me. Many thanks! Karen

    1. When I moved here, Diane had me make a collage about what I was welcoming into my studio so that I wouldn't simply pack up my stuff and move to a new place and be exactly the same. That was helpful with my move. All the best. Let it be an adventure.

  2. Good luck with the financial changes. I used to watch one of Vas-Oxlade's TV shows about getting out of debt. She had some interesting ideas and exercises for the participants. However, I got really tired of almost every show having the female the cause of the debt. I don't know if the producers chose women on purpose, or if they mostly got applications to be on the show from spouses/relatives of women who had a retail therapy or eating out habit. It was not a reflection of reality IMHO. OOPS on my part - expecting TV to reflect reality on a "reality" TV show :-)

    I'm glad you aren't turning the decline by one coach inward to blame yourself. Maybe they want someone who's not so concerned about the work-life and relationship balance and is in the work-work-work mode. Or that your comment about knowing yourself and that you've learned to be yourself to was interpreted *by them* that they might have to work too hard to help you.

    1. LOL - perhaps the show was not a reflection of your reality but I think there were so many with that perspective because that actually is reality, at least this is what I'm aware of talking to others and I spend money on eating out, books, fabric, yarn and other art supplies as well as potential in consignment/thrift shops.

      The comments and the collage simply reinforced something that was there beneath the surface. I want to approach life from a calm and confident perspective, without the striving that I lived with before, and allow it to unfold. I'm debating exploring some local opportunities.

    2. Myrna, I think you are on the right road to financial literacy. You have actually said what you spend money on, now you need to think why. I did that in the fall before we moved. I'd pick out fabric to buy and then ask why am I buying this? Most of it was stress buying (we were moving, I needed to pack, blah, blah, blah). Most often I would put it back and not buy it. If it was singing to me and I had a project in mind, I would buy it if it was at a good price.
      I haven't bought any fabric since the end of October. I did buy three notions that I really needed and had on my wish list from several years ago. I did buy yarn for my Christmas present which was fine. But, now I ask myself why I don't want to buy more fabric and I can come up with a list -- I need to do the projects I had planned, I have enough of what I need to do them, I want to do the Craftsy courses I purchased, and the list goes on. My goal this year is to sew down at least 50 meters of fabric as my wardrobe plans are changing. I am looking at Country Casual -- denim, whites, taupes, with a few other colors to add a bit more variety. It fits with where we live and it is truly the type of clothes I love.
      I do like your collage and I think you may be in a position to become a coach to others.

    3. Thanks for the encouragement Ann. One challenge I really love is "use what I have" which works well for not only pushing my creativity but for spending less and developing a different way of thinking. I'm using it on the current project and if I'd gone with the first "buy" answer, I wouldn't have gotten to such an interesting project. This is good.

      Sometimes knowing why you're spending doesn't make any difference if you're not ready to deal with it. I'm excited about this financial challenge as well so it seems now is the right time. Of course that excitement will reach some hard spots and ebb and flow as life does but... it's good.

      When I taught on-line, several of the course were a combination of life/creativity coaching which was really enjoyable. While I'm not coaching formally, I have several friends that I'm supporting and encouraging along their journey and it's great to see them making progress on their goals.

  3. I understand that you want a coach, but if you re-read all that you have written above, you might realize that you are your own best coach. How could a coach do a better job of mapping out your future than you just did? You are a heuristic learner, in my observation by reading your blog for several years, and I think you could save your money by trusting yourself more. You are truly amazing!

    1. Thanks for the compliment. I've always been self motivated. What I enjoyed about doing the creativity coaching with Diane was timelines, accountability, feedback, and a different perspective. We have our long term savings automated which is a really wonderful thing - automation - and what I need to work on is short term cash flow and less spending. I can do this. YES YES I can.

    2. My dad taught me a valuable lesson at a very early age: "Charade, you can go broke saving money." ;))


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.