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The Creative Muse Meter – where are you?

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If you are anywhere between 2 and 6, you already know you are a creative person.

If you are a 1: Bet you are busy creating your life, but perhaps showing up to ‘creativity’ (process or product) isn’t calling to you. And that’s cool.  But then,  I suspect not too many 1’s have landed on this page, anyway. And if they have, they probably are wondering how they got ‘dragged’ here.

But for the rest of you, want to scooch a little closer to the 6?

1. Awareness alone is a good start! So.. look, you’ve already taken a step!

2. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to show up to our creativity. To do that, you might want to find ways to truly appreciate how important the creative process is in your life:

a. External ways to find value: Do a little research, watch the Happy Movie, read or watch or listen to works by Sir Ken Robinson or Jill Badonsky.

b.Internal ways to find value: Thnk about the times you are creative.. creative thinking, creative doing, aha creative moments in conversations, etc. and ask yourself “How is that important for me?”

Yes, that creative’s not just a fun little past time, my friends. It may well be your “soul feeding, finding answers, calm your stress, life is good, meditative, and oh, life is fun, too” process. How ’bout that.


Linda McRae: “Click goes the Shutter, Click goes my Soul”.

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The Muse A-Fairian Interviews: Inspired people showing up to their inspired lives – there are trials, there are tribulations, but they keep showing up and honouring their passions and purpose.   All are a part of the collaborative second annual Muse A-Fair event in December.

Welcome Linda!

Linda McRae

Linda McRae
Views by Linda Photography

Linda discovered photography when she purchased her first digital camera in 2002 for use in her technical writing work at Nortel Networks in Ontario. She never did get to use the camera for that purpose, but instead found herself on a journey of passion in creating fine art images. Since then, she has shown and sold her work in art shows and galleries, and won several awards (including an Award of Excellence in Photography from Muskoka Arts and Crafts Inc. in Bracebridge, Ontario, and an Honourable Mention from the Kamloops Art Council). In Kamloops, Linda continues to show and sell her fine art images. In addition, she also captures “extraordinary moments” at action events.

Have you always been creative?
I struggle always with this question and usually, my first response was always no. But when I really think about it, yes, I believe that I have always been creative, in some form, but always in the sense of replicating something that someone else had created. I don’t remember much about being creative as a child, but as a teen, I tried a lot of different things, such as reproducing vinyl record album covers freehand, embroidery, and making a beaded belt. I never did finish the embroidery and beading projects, but I did keep them, and I still have them. That belt would make a good choker, now!

As a young adult, I knitted and crocheted lots, and tried my hand at designing and knitting sweaters on a knitting machine and designing and hand-knitting or crocheting bedspreads or afghans. I still have a couple of those unfinished projects too.

Nothing seemed to work for me. Anything I did create always fell short of expectation; it was just never good enough and did not excite me enough to keep going. Until one day in 2002, the digital camera I purchased on eBay (for work) arrived at my door and I used it to photograph the flowers in my garden. My life was changed. All other interests fell to the wayside as my passion for photography was ignited and continues to burn almost 10 years later. Has it really only been that long? It feels like a lifetime because I’ve achieved so much in that time.

And recently, through my friendship with Janet and her Creative Muse students, I’ve discovered a creative ability in doodling and painting too, but photography is where my heart is at.

Kamloopa Pow Wow by Linda McRae

Any stories to tell about what stops you from showing up to your creativity?
I work the equivalent of two full-time jobs 1) technical writing which provides my bread and butter income, creating software configuration manuals in the telecommunications industry, and 2) freelance action event photographer, capturing extraordinary moments of dogs and humans in action which I then offer for sale as prints or digital files; the volume I shoot is very high, and my workload is heavy. I find it hard to justify taking time off to “play”. My friends literally have to drag me kicking and screaming away from my desk, so friends…. please drag me away from my desk more often!

Has small steps or lowering expectations helped you to show up?
I believe that small steps and lowering expectations are a really great way to help one show up, but my mindset has always been that if I can’t spend some considerable time on “something” in one sitting, what’s the point in starting?
But on the other hand, the projects I want to work on are usually so big that sheer overwhelm stops me from showing up. I really need to work on that, to break those really big projects into smaller bite-sized pieces and just keep processing those bite-size pieces a bit at a time. Because I know that all of a sudden, the project will be finished! I need to apply that concept to keeping my house clean too. I can’t remember the last time I dragged my vacuum cleaner out of the closet!

Do you get the feeling of being in the zone when you are in 
your creative process? Can you describe that?
I have experienced being “in the zone” while working behind the lens.
I become quite absorbed in what I’m doing to the point that I lose awareness of time, my environment, and the people around me.  And when I capture an image that really works for me, I feel a kind of “click”  deep inside my core. Interesting… click goes the shutter, click goes my soul.

Band Abstract by Linda McRae

What projects are you currently working on?
The photos of my work here demonstrate some creative photography techniques that I’ve been working on. Some people paint with paint and brush. I am learning to paint with light and motion.

I have in mind to create huge (and I mean “HUGE”) pieces of photographic wall art. They are expensive to produce, and I only have the financial means to create one or two, but first, I have to decide “which images.” I have so many that I like, it’s really hard to choose!

Events/shows that you’d like to tell us about?


*  RIH Craft A Fair, November 6, Interior Savings Centre

*  Christmas at the Square, November 18-19, St. Andrews on the Square

AND of course…
Muse-A-Fair, December 2-3, Pavillion Theatre

I’m one of those last minute decision makers… what I’ll be showing at Muse A Fair will not be revealed until you get there, because right now…  even I don’t know!


Note from Janet: Oh, I think you do so know now… and I’m excited about seeing your works!  ~smile~  Thanks so much for being here, Linda, and helping others to see themselves and know they are normal if they have big projects, and that feeling that one must dedicate huge blocks of time.  Thanks for the reminder that breaking it down and small steps can bring results.  There are many tools to help get to your dreams, and Linda’s? She gives herself permission to  keep showing up.. LOOK at the amazing works she produces!!!!!!! I adore following your “Views by Linda Photography”  pages, Linda. Thank you for the visual wonders that inspire me.

Here’s how  to contact Linda and where to follow her inspired works!

View by Linda Photography



The Renegade Muse Interviews: Lisa Bolender, now approaching Quirky

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Renegade Muses?? Say what?? A community of creative sorts from all corners of the world who are wise in the wily ways of bringing creative principles, in the guises of quirky and brilliant muses, to those wanting to be more creative!  Why, here’s one right now…

        Lisa Bolender
Who am I anyway?

A fledgling mixed media artist, scribe to the characters in my imagination, maker of shiny jewelry things, KMCC Certified Coach, Renegade Muse,  part-time poet, creative wanderer, collector of odd things,  dreamer of adventures, friend of animals.

Have you always been creative?
Why yes I have, thank you for asking. When I was little, this was called “odd”. Now I don’t care what they call me. I love my strange, wild life and letting my Muses run free.  Perhaps I am now approaching “quirky”?

Where does your inspiration come from?
Many places: the color of a flower in my garden, the texture of a sweater, a dream, an off-hand comment, the need to escape from my everyday duties, a song on the radio. I just try to be open and receptive to the many messages around me.

Ever feel like you don’t exactly ‘fit in’ in this world?
I’m actually ok with not fitting in. I am discovering through my coaching practice, and through my workshops that very few people really feel like they ‘fit in’.  The athletic, the thin and beautiful, the tortured writers, the quiet ones, they all struggle with finding their place in the world. We spend a lot of time labeling ourselves and others, when each person is a wonderfully wacky blend of traits and behaviors that makes them shine their own particular light. My advice? Find your tribe. They are out there looking for you, and they think you are terrific just as you are.

Do you get that feeling of being in the zone when you’re in your creative process? Can you describe it? When you create, do you ever wonder, “Who did that?”
I love being in my creative zone! Time disappears, my fingers fly, I don’t hear people talking to me, everything seems right with the world. My ideas sometimes take on a life of their own, growing and changing, evolving before my eyes. When I finish and return to the “real world”, look at what I’ve made and say, “Where did that come from? Did I make that?”

Crazy wild dreams?
Yes, yes, yes! A round the world cruise, a dedicated studio space bigger than my kitchen table, a community art center, stenciling in Spain, fabricating finery in France, collecting an awesome closet full of high quality vintage clothing, teaching the world to sing, being my bestest truest self.

Thank you, Lisa, for being here!  I know others are going to feel just that much gooder about themselves.. especially knowing it’s okay not to feel like you ‘fit in!’

Where you can find Lisa:

Learn more about leading creativity groups here.   The Nine Modern Day Muse Facilitator Training is based on the works of, and in collaboration with, Jill Badonsky, and is facilitated by Janet Whitehead who tosses in some of her wily ways to boot.

Peaceful Puttering Pottering in Parallel Universe Time

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“Hello Creative Beans!” announces the queen of inspiration, Jill Badonsky, to a number of creative beans on a teleconference call.

She suggests we  add an essence to our Parallel Universe Time*:  A couple of adjectives like childlike openess, mellow meandering, willing wonder, delighted curiousity…

I’ve picked  Peaceful Puttering Pottering.. because it’s okay to pick more than two words.. everything is okay if you are in a creative space.  It’s a random choice.  But then, ‘random’ is often the ‘permission slip’ for our more inspired thoughts to surprise us.

We write our words on a piece of paper in a script akin to our words (mine looked very puttery) and breath in the feeling that our words might feel like.

Yup, I’m going to spend a focussed half hour of peaceful puttering pottering with my clay.

After a couple of moments of connecting on this call, being reminded that this is our half hour to show up to our creative space, and that in that space, we also get to hold creative space for  the others on the call:

  • No checking emails,
  • no searching for snacks in the fridge and then deciding it needs cleaning,
  • no taking the dog for just a little walk

… just showing up to our creative project.  At the end of a half hour, we will reconnect to ‘check-in’ and celebrate our showing up.

I feel rather excited at the mention of ‘giddy eagerness’ and the sacred space to be held by ‘us’.

I hang up, go straight to the clay that MUST get done.. there is a deadline!  And it is drying too quickly!  And I’ve been on many deadlines in the past and endless hours of sculpting and creating and I realize as I breath in ‘peaceful puttering pottering’ that my energy truly has shifted to something I had forgotten when I’m on a deadline (oh so self imposed.. I could always have started earlier. Typical dang creative.)  I also realize that the energy of wayyyyy too many late nights, long weeks, extensive creating without breaks over the years is exactly what can keep me from the clay now – it worked then, but it’s not what I want to feel anymore.  I want to take breaks and lull and meander and peacefully puttery pot.

And even though the pieces I’m working on do have a deadline, I truly feel more peaceful and puttery.   This rocks.

“Oh wait!  I have an idea!” I think as I carve my pots. BUT GUESS WHAT.. I DON’T run to the computer to start a new blog post. I don’t run to my book to add a few words. I don’t run off and email a friend.  I don’t post a caption to Jill’s facebook photos. No. I stay put because I am holding sacred creative space for the others, too.

A fun little check-in one half hour later and Parallel Universe Time is over.. but I can do it again next week.  You can too.. you can just whip right over here and sign up for free.

But if you can’t get there, there’s other ways.  You could find a cohort in creativity:  Almost every week day morning, Coreena McBurnie and I connect for 20 minutes of ‘getting to our books.’  It works.  Even for me who likes endless hours to write.. I feel so good getting in 20 minutes.  It can lead to more, of course. I usually have clients or other things booked and don’t get to carry on for too long. But the book is always open on my computer now, and I can spend more ’20 minutes’ several times during the day! Or not.  20 minutes is enough to keep it on the top of the important list.. instead of the ‘one day I’ll get to” list.  Just holding space for each other is enough.

Oh the wonders and weirdnesses of us creative beans…  and thank goodness for ways to help us show up!  What helps you get to your creativity?

 * Parallel Universe Time is actually an official tool (and ever so well received) of Jill Badonsky’s Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching

Rockin’ Wisdom from a Four Year Old

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My grandaughter, Evalee, was potting on the wheel again yesterday. Her pot started to collapse but she saved it easily. I commented that that was a very hard thing to do; save a pot that is bending.  She said, “Maybe you could tell people I can save my pots.”

She’s 4. She still remembers that being acknowledged is good for the soul. I hope we don’t take that away from her.

As adults, we can be frightfully independant and constantly insist that being acknowledged is not important. As creative adults, we’ve likely learned this as a direct result of all the really dumb responses we’ve heard from people ‘not -of -like -mind’ (which is at least 80% of the rest of the world)

You know the responses I mean:

Don’t quit your day job.”

I think you should be doing it…. this way, that way, etc etc” –  an endless array of advice that only serves to overwhelm, undervalue, make you feel incompetent, and take the wind out of your sails. Ya, you get the picture.

You’re wasting your time writing.” (painting. dancing, dreaming. even thinking!)

OR how about when they change the topic to something like “oh, and how’s work?” because they think that your wingy right brain thoughts, concepts, and ideas are distracting you from the ‘real meaning of life.’

And especially… the roll of the eyes, because you’ve happened to have a lot of ideas and they doubt you’ll ever bring them to fruition.  Okay, let me say here.. those responding who are uneducated in the ways of the right brain thinker have played a major role in the difficulty in bringing things to fruition.   Support and acknowledgement… it does empower.  Understanding that a creative being HAS many ideas would be one step in educating.  Alas, the poor creative folk have been so misunderstood.

But this is not just about ‘right- brain’, ‘thinking-differently’ folks.  I’m just suggesting that we are less likely than others to seek out acknowledgement because acknowledgement has failed so badly in the past.

There still exists that undercurrent of belief that if you acknowledge any person’s accomplishments, they might get a ‘big head’.  Yes, that myth from way back still lurks.  Big head, my butt.  They’ll get confidence.

And so, learn from my 4 year old grandaughter.  Acknowledgement is empowering. People are meant to have community, a tribe, kindred spirits that support each other. Being empowered by acknowledgement is not being weak… it is an essential part of our being human.

Now,  go tell someone they rock.  Heck, go tell someone you rock. And if you happen to say it to the rolling eye person, laugh out loud, knowing you know something they don’t.

Okay, I’m giggling here.  What if we all went up to anyone who would listen and blurted out our accomplishments?  That would be one heck of a way to find our ‘tribes’!

By the way, I told  Evalee that I posted her accomplishment to my friends on facebook. You know what she said?  “Oh, are you going to write a book about it too?”

Where did that come from I wonder!    She does  TOTALLY rock!!!!  She inspired this post!

ps. Dang, that felt good. My grandaughter knows I’m a writer!

Brian Dettmer.. and how to view his brilliance and be kind to your creative soul.

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Sometimes I’m wowed beyond wow… and the sculptured altered books of Brian Dettmer are in that category. A video link is below plus a link of ‘still’ images so you can take in the detail.

But before you sneak off there, know this:

If you are a creative being arriving here because maybe you searched altered books and have been considering taking up that fine craft… Breath.

When you get there and one part of you is in awe, but the other part- the inner critic -starts blabbering stuff like: “you’re not good enough”  “If you can’t do this perfectly, don’t even start”  “oh man, I suck big time” and you feel your enthusiasm and energy start to dwindle, DO THIS:

1. Know that you are normal for a creative person.

2. Showing up to your creativity IS the important part… you’re being called to show up. What evolves is your journey – nobody elses… because you are a unique creative being. (read number 4 on how to show up)

3. It’s okay if you don’t become a Brian Dettmer overnight. In fact, you don’t really want to become a Brian Dettmer.  Being you is your ideal. What that looks like in your creative expression might still be an unknown.  And that’s okay.

4. And if it’s altered books you want to experiment with, get out the razor knife and any old book and start cutting.  Give yourself permission to create something ‘small and crappy.’ (KMCC tool) This is an excellent way of thinking  for sneaking past all the fears, high expectations, overwhelm, and self-sabotaging talk.  Sounds ridiculous, right? It works. It works over and over and over again.  So go, chop up a book!

(If you are freaking out at the concept of chopping up a book, I get it. I personally will go to the used book store and get the books that are ready to go to the dump. It happens in book stores. Then, I feel like I’ve given the ‘dump-designated’ new life.)

Want to know what possessed me to write this? (Apparently, I’m going to tell you anyway  ~smile~) I found Brian Dettmer’s  work while looking up altered book techniques. I’ve dabbled in this art form, and am considering doing a creativity/ discovery course that would involve altered books.  I looked at Brian’s work and I, who helps others get past creative and life blocks, felt my energy drain. But I did notice and, as long as we notice, there’s ways to get past that.

THEN I wanted to share his amazing work, and you know, I hesistated. Because the people I work/play with  are ‘right brainers’ and we do tend to have inner critics to deal with AND SO, I created this long and meandering prelude to introduce you to the works of Brian Dettmer.

Phew. Now, you have the tools to go see Brian Dettmer’s works and  truly be inspired and in awe.

Youtube video:

(it refused to embed here.. sorry)

Still images:

Stop just talking about ‘being more creative.”

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Thought I’d post this article I recently published….

‘We have to be more creative’  – Stop just talking about it!

Maybe the difficult economic times are the perfect next step in our evolution.


If you have ‘google alert’ and searched “be more creative” you would discover as I have that every day hundreds of articles, news casts, business forums, and blogs are screaming, “we have to be more creative if we are to survive this downturn in our economy.”


This thrills me.  “Yay, people are going to get to access their creative brilliance!”  I think enthusiastically (because my mind likes to do that.)  “Yay!!  The whole world is going to start using the creative right side of their brains! ” I add to myself as I imagine the big picture.  “Oh, what a world it could be if we were all using our whole brain – right, left and center!”    I won’t even go into the image of how astounding this picture can become in my imagination, given that I’ve discovered that the creative right brain is also the place where many people get their most soulful answers.    “BUT …”  Yup.  A BUT pops into my mind. 


And here it is.  Here’s the BUT that could make the beautiful prospect of a ‘whole brain’ world just a fantasy.


Have you ever sat in a meeting when someone says, “Okay, we need to be more creative with this concept.”  And everyone in the meeting nods “yes” enthusiastically.   Then there is a lull.  And the meeting organizer says, “Okay, then! On that note, let’s call it a day!”


What’s missing?  Quite a bit actually. The way to be creative.  The space to be creative. The support of the left brain saying, “no, no, of course it’s okay.. you go ahead and be creative”  without it adding, “but, first,  just make sure that report is done by  4, you are home by 5, dinner is ready by 6, the bills are  paid, the car is washed, the floors are swept, you called your mother, you answered those emails, and you’ve completed a full  business plan that justifies your spending time being creative.”  


What is not missing is the creative people.  At least 1 out of 10 in that meeting has a pretty strong creative side.  And of the remaining 9, the creativity is there, it’s just not their dominant side.


The good news is that there is a way to ‘be more creative’ as individuals, businesses, and organizations move forward in the challenging economic times.  Get a coach.  Get a coach who is an expert in not just helping people access the creative side, but in putting it to use in moving individuals and groups forward successfully.   Yes, it is entirely possible for the left organized linear brain and the creative non linear brain to work well together.    


Are you are one of those saying, we need to “be more creative?”  This time don’t dismiss that thought.  Now is the time to take action.



Janet Whitehead is a certified professional life and business coach who specializes in life coaching creatively.  Her expertise includes helping others to access both ‘sides of the brain’ – the creative ‘right brain’ and the logical ‘lets get things done’ left brain.  Janet’s coaching style leads to a person discovering their most empowering ways to move forward quickly and successfully, authentically and soulfully.  She coaches both internationally and locally, facilitates creative workshops, and is the author of a variety of work (play!) books. 

In addition, Janet is a certified Creative Muse Group Facilitator and she is currently completing her first novel, and working on a solo show in Clay.




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