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Vanquish Your No’s, Overcome Procrastination, Own Your Process

Many creatives struggle with procrastination, sometimes to the point where we never actually start our work, much less finish it. When we procrastinate, what we are really doing is telling ourselves “no.”  Let’s look at what saying no means with regard to creating with purpose and ease. We’ll deconstruct some no’s and offer a strategy or two to vanquish them.

Have you ever had a great idea and you immediately write down the heart of it, thinking Oh I can’t wait to flesh this out? Then weeks later the idea is still nagging at you but now the nag is layered with guilt about why you haven’t done something with it? This is a fear of beginning.

Or, you have the most smashing idea for a novel and in a burst of energy you outline the plot and over the next few days write three or four kick ass scenes and then … nothing. Suddenly there are a million other things that you think need to be done and take priority when actually you have hit a wall with the writing but don’t want to admit it. This is fear of completion.

Or have you ever read a call for submissions and thought, “That’s perfect for me, it is exactly what I need to advance my practice right now!” The submission closing date is weeks out at the time but now it is three days before submissions close and you have not done one thing? Ouch. This is fear of rejection.

In each of these scenarios you are procrastinating by telling yourself no about moving forward. I propose that by examining no a bit more closely, and ferreting out what the consequences, and possible benefits, of the no are, you can move past them and return to a productive mindset and practice.

In the first, you are saying no before you start; if you never start, nothing can be produced. In the second, you are saying no to completion, denying yourself the satisfaction of a finished project. In the last, you are avoiding rejection.

In all three of these cases, the procrastination is sheltering you from putting your work into the world. Why would we say no to ourselves in this way? Why would we not want our work in the world, making a difference? While all artists create from the heart and soul, our mind can wreak havoc on our ego. What will people think? What if I am not the artist or writer I think I am? What if my submission is rejected? What if my work is just ignored?

What does telling ourselves no do for us? What is the underlying value? If we never write, no one will ever read it and no one will ever find fault with it. It will remain this terrific idea, full of potential to tap at a later time. If we never finish the novel or the painting, it remains in the world of possible, just momentarily shelved. All these no’s protect us from judgment and rejection; the benefit is that we are “safe.”

If we follow the no all the way through, though, safe does not feel so good. We deny ourselves the potential pleasure of having our efforts warmly received. We deny ourselves feedback that may advance us as artists. We deny ourselves the pleasure of bravely putting our work out there and knowing we have done our best and that it is indeed enough.

Use these questions to examine your procrastination and unpack how saying no is helping or hindering.

1. What will happen if I don’t complete this project? What will I lose? What will I gain?

2. What will happen if I do complete this project? What is the best outcome? What is the worst?

3. How can I switch from a no mindset to a yes mindset, thus getting my work into the world?

Let’s use avoiding submission as an example.

1. If I do not get this in on time I will have missed the opportunity to be considered. If I do not submit then I do not have to face the fear of rejection, and the anxiety of waiting for a response.

2. If I do submit the obvious best outcome is acceptance, success. But then there is the shadow side of success, that the work will be seen and judged. Or perhaps the rejection will be so discouraging I might stop work altogether.

3. If I do not submit, then I am guaranteed a no. If I do get a rejection that does not mean my work is not of value, it may just mean this is not the right place for it. If the rejection comes with critique I will have the opportunity to improve the work and submit again. Rejection is part of living a creative life. These thoughts help loosen the ego’s grip on outcome and open the possibility of acceptance.

In addition to looking at how telling yourself no is stopping your productivity and then reframing that, try this, stating the concern and then turning it around to a positive affirmation.

For example: This journal has a ridiculously low acceptance rate. My writing will not make the cut so why bother. Turn it around to: I am a good writer and I believe in my work. I am saying yes to this opportunity and I embrace whatever the outcome is. I will either rejoice and be delighted or I will learn from the experience and get accepted next time. Either way I am moving my work forward.

Taking time to examine how saying no to your own work helps or hinders you and then creating an affirmation to bolster your courage, will loosen the grip of procrastination.

I use this practice in 1-1 coaching sessions with my clients and also when I procrastinate. While writing this article I reminded myself that this practice has been enormously successful and part of my creative citizenship is to share what works. If you’d like some help implementing this, please visit me at my website www.secondbloomcoaching.com and schedule a chat. Turn those no’s into yesses!

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Need Help Manifesting? Seven steps to manifesting your desires using… postcards!

I have always loved postcards. I love buying them. I love writing them. I love sending them. I love the happy response from the person who receives them. We all get very little paper mail these days so a pretty postcard with a heartfelt message is often an unexpected pleasure.

I also love getting postcards, but rarely do. It is not that my friends don’t travel; many of them travel extensively. They just find it easier to post on Facebook, send group email, or blog.

I am a bit of a postcard hoarder. I have stacks of them. Some are location specific, some are from museum shops, and some are collections of quotes. I love them.

One day, while thinking about manifestation and future gratitude, I had an idea. In 2000 I read a book by Henriette Klauser, Write It Down, Make it Happen: Knowing What You Want – and Getting It! As a long time journaler, I fell in love with the power of bringing something to fruition by committing it to paper. Once the movie The Secret came out, many people became committed to manifesting their desires. Gratitude, noticing what you receive and appreciating it, is part of the process. Another aspect of manifesting power is being grateful for the desire before it comes, as if it is already here. I use my postcards for this. I keep a few in my purse or computer case. Once I set a goal, or put forth a desire, I write myself a postcard either congratulating myself on the achievement or expressing what a delight it is to have my desire. For example, I was submitting an essay to an anthology. I long admired this series and knew competition for selection was fierce. I put my heart and soul and considerable time and effort into my submission. After sending it, I immediately wrote myself a postcard saying how good it feels to be chosen, to have my work recognized, what an honor it is. My submission was accepted and published and it felt marvelous.

I use this for everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. I share the joy of fitting into a pair of pants that I was once five pounds too heavy for. I celebrate having my garden planted in time for my summer solstice party. I am thankful for the new friend I met at a conference I will be attending soon. I appreciate reaching a new income milestone. It might be a perfect check up at my annual physical. This is fun and very powerful.

Here are some suggestions to get your started:

1. Buy postcards wherever you go: while traveling, at museum shops, bookstores, gift shops, maybe just buy blank cards and design your own.

2. Have stamps on hand. As I use forever stamps in the USA, I just put them onto the postcards as I buy them.

3. Address the cards immediately.

4. Keep the postcards accessible. I have some in my purse, some in my computer bag, and some on my desk at home.

5. Be playful with this! Don’t overthink it or use them only for serious requests. All desires are worth celebrating.

6. When the postcard arrives, stop and feel the joy of it. Even if what you desire is still not here, relax into the feeling of having it.

7. Save the postcards. I keep mine in a basket in my living room. Every once in a while I read through them. It is astounding how many of them are now realized. Not all of course. But the funny thing is that when I look at the ones not realized; I have two responses. One is noticing I got something even better than that. The other is to ask myself if I still desire it? If I do, guess what? I write another postcard!

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Tomatoes, Insight, and Love - A Father's Day tribute to my dad.

My dad did not suffer fools gladly. At age 13 he went to work in the coalmines after his father was killed in a mining accident. As the oldest son, it was his responsibility. He was a good provider for our family too, first working in the mines and then as a surveyor and safety inspector for an insurance company. He was not the kind of dad who would come see you perform in your class play or at a sporting event or ask you about your day. But there was always food on the table and a safe and comfortable home.

One thing he did love was gardening, in particular growing tomatoes. He had little interest in flowers, preferring side crops of onions and peppers. I have a fond childhood memory of a day when I went with him to buy tomato plants, onion sets, and peppers. I spotted a packet of flower seeds, Bachelor Buttons. I was enchanted by the pink and blue flowers on the picture and begged him to buy them for me. He did and for that year at least there was a scraggly row of flowers running between the tomato plants.

As gruff as he was, my dad had a soft spot for an underdog. When my son was born with numerous health and development challenges, my dad became his greatest champion. He would send him letters and actually chat with him on the phone. Dad was never much for idle chatter but for Bren he had time. My son had severe food allergies and one of the few foods he could eat was… tomatoes. Dad became my tomato consultant as I began growing my own in patio pots. I learned the fine art of pinching off suckers to promote growth and why it was always a good idea to plant some Big Boys. Dad was bewildered by my consideration of heirloom varieties… why when we know what good eating his favorites were?

My dad passed away years ago but I felt close to him every year when I planted my pots. Then my son died in December. I am now thinking of both him and my dad as I pull off the suckers. This year I have a long row of pots on my deck, full of yellow blossoms that will soon be replaced with green and then ripe, red tomatoes. It is only since my son’s death that I understand, as I look at the row of pots in full bloom, it is not about how many tomatoes I can grow. I don’t even like tomatoes. It’s about love. And I love you Dad, glad you were there to greet my son. I’ll keep growing and sharing these red beauties and thinking of you both.

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I Am Still a Mother - My First Mother’s Day Without My Son

Brendan Matthew Whelley, the best son in the whole wide world, died in December just a month shy of his 42nd birthday. Bren was a person with special needs. He had some developmental delays, was visually impaired, had severe food allergies and numerous health challenges. He was also a delight. He savored every day, rarely complained, and brought joy and light to the world. I’m not saying he was never crabby or discouraged but those moments passed quickly. He would feel them and let them go.

Bren was my favorite person and constant companion. Every Mother’s Day on my facebook account or on my blog I would write one line, Why I love being a mother… and post a series of pictures of Bren from that year. Those pictures always included Bren with his dogs, swimming, making book sculptures, doing volunteer work, going to his CHEERS (Communities Helping Each and Everyone Reach Success) group activities or University of Dayton basketball games, and eating French fries. My boy loved his fries!

I was dreading this Mother’s Day. For the first time in 42 years I would not be with my son. I would not be awakened with a cheery “Happy Mother’s Day, thanks for being my mom!” and presented with a gift he had made. In recent years we would celebrate by going to Red Robin. If you are unfamiliar with Red Robin, it is a hamburger restaurant chain where they serve bottomless fries. You can understand why he thought that was the best place to celebrate everything.

I miss him. I am struggling to figure out life without him. But only life without his physical presence as I feel him every day. I focus on the joy he shared and try to be like him as much as possible.  I am blessed with loving friends, who loved Bren too, and are helping me grieve. We remember his amazing hugs, sometimes a quick squeeze, sometimes a thirty second special. He and I had another unique way of hugging. For whatever reason, he liked to ride in the back seat of the car on the passenger side. One of us would yell “Hand Hug” and I would reach back and we would clasp hands. Even now, I holler it out and reach back as though he was still there.

My first thought today was of Bren. Then I was blessed, I believe by him, with a second powerful thought. I am still a mother. I always will be. So today I am celebrating motherhood, mine and all the other mothers’ in the world. I am going to sit with my memories. If you know a mother who has lost her child, think of her and if you feel comfortable doing so, reach out. Sometimes just “I am thinking of you.” is enough. I have told everyone to please speak to me about Bren, to say his name. To not worry that they will make me cry. There will be plenty of tears today; yet I will be smiling so much as I remember him. I am grateful for every day I got to mother Bren and I am grateful for all he taught me. I’m going to pass out hand hugs and spread some joy.

Be like Bren, hug your loved ones and be grateful for those in your life.

And I will revel in the deep knowing that I am still and will always be a mother.

*This post was scheduled for Mother’s Day but was delayed by a technology glitch. The message remains true.

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8 Tips for Your First Post-Divorce Holiday

1. Be intentional. Know that this holiday season IS different. Your life IS different. So take some time to think about how you want this to be and how you can make that happen. Think and plan ahead.

2. Have a mantra in mind that gives you strength and reminds you of possibility. Some examples might be: Change is hard AND change offers infinite possibilities. Or, yes, the life I had (and perhaps treasured) is gone AND the world is wide and full of interesting people. Today I choose to embrace those people. Or simply: I can now choose to create new holiday traditions.

3. Do something new. Plan at least one holiday activity that is something you never did in holidays past but always wanted to. Have you always wanted to ice skate to Christmas carols? Find a place and do it! Was your ex bored by the Hallmark happy endings holiday movies and you loved them? Grant yourself a day of binge watching. While we are talking about movies, movie theaters are not only open on Christmas but are featuring many new releases in preparation for the Oscars. This might be a good choice if you had a Christmas day ritual with your ex and that space feels empty. Get thyself to the theater!

 4. Say no. If you have an invitation to a gathering where you KNOW you will be uncomfortable, politely decline. For example, if your ex is there with a new partner and you are not ready for that or perhaps you know he or she will be there and you are not ready to share space. If it feels “too soon,” then it IS too soon and you do not have to do it. Give yourself permission to say no.

5. Establish boundaries. People are VERY curious about divorce. Whether well-meaning or just nosy, questions may be asked that you do not want to discuss in that moment. So have an answer prepared. For example, “I’m enjoying this time with friends (or family) and want to stay focused on that right now.” Then smile politely and offer a new topic. If the questioner persists, walk away or if you can’t do that (maybe you are seated next to them at the dining room table) simply ignore the questions.

6.  Reflect and Grieve.  Build in some time to reflect upon, and perhaps mourn, past holidays. That was your life and there was good there. If you need it, allow yourself some time to be with this. You are NOT required to be “all better” on any particular time schedule. It can be as simple as stepping into a restroom to collect your thoughts while at a family gathering, or sitting down at home or a café and writing it all out. Maybe have a little ritual where you look over photos from holidays past and relive the good moments and allow time to accept their loss. If you don’t like to write and movement helps, walk or sweat it out. Take a walk, alone or with a friend, outdoors if possible. Or head to the gym for an extra workout. Allow yourself to think all the thoughts and then release them physically. Another possibility is to put on your favorite playlist and dance around your living room until you have danced it out.

7. Reach out. Look around you and find other people who might be alone or experiencing change during this holiday. Perhaps find someone who is also newly divorced. Perhaps find a mom who is having her first Christmas without her children who have grown and moved away. Check with local churches and ask the pastor if he or she knows of anyone who might appreciate a visit. Or maybe someone who would like to attend services but has no transportation. Bake or buy cookies and drop them off at the closest firehouse. If you love animals, call the local shelter and see if there is anything you can do as a volunteer.

8. Feel the feelings. Know that whatever you are feeling is acceptable. The good news about feelings is that they are temporary; they pass. As you grow and change through this experience, you’ll be choosing new feelings. If those still don’t feel right? Choose again. This is a journey, a process. You deserve happiness and joy. Make imperfect choices knowing you are growing as you do. The best is yet to come.

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Single on Valentine's Day? No Problem!

It’s been several years since my first Valentine’s Day post divorce yet I clearly remember how difficult that holiday was. We are bombarded with advertisements and promotions weeks in advance featuring starry-eyed couples. There are the diamond engagement ring ads encouraging a romantic proposal. There are heart shaped necklaces and ruby rings and strands of pearls. Of course the floral industry ramps it up, offering long stemmed roses and gorgeous other bouquets. Chocolate anyone? Those heart shaped boxes of delectable treats along with cookies, cakes, and tarts are everywhere. Newspaper ads have spreads of sexy lingerie as another tempting Valentine gift. Restaurants offer special couples menus including wine to add some spice. My ex always gave me a lovely gift, usually jewelry. There was always a sweet card as well. Then suddenly, no valentines were coming my way. He was in another relationship and I was not. It was still hard for me to even imagine being with someone else. So what to do? It was time to break out of the Valentine’s Day is for couples only mindset.

I got creative. I invited ten women friends to my home on Valentine’s Day night. Some were single. Some were divorced. Some had husbands who were total duds in the romance department. I explained that I was not going to be cooking but there would be plenty of wine and chocolate and I would order in pizza. The purpose of the night was to celebrate us as women. The only requirement was for each woman to buy a gift for herself. I asked each to think carefully about what her heart desired and then buy exactly that. It could be big or small, expensive or inexpensive, didn’t matter. What mattered was that it be exactly what she longed for most. I asked her to wrap the present as beautifully as she desired and bring it to the party.

What an amazing night we had. Each woman opened her gift as we all oohed and aahed. The best part was listening to the explanation each woman shared for why she chose what she did and why she deserved it. The gifts were not the traditional lingerie and jewelry. Well, there was one set of absolutely spectacular lingerie; bought by a woman we would never have expected to go for that. We cheered for her when she said something like, I always wanted lingerie like this and I am going to wear it just for myself, to make me feel beautiful. One woman bought herself a card that contained a gift certificate for a local home improvement store. Included in the card were paint chips and photographs of the new cabinets and kitchen counters she wanted. This woman was treating herself to a kitchen makeover. Her husband had been balking about it for years, and she decided she deserved a new kitchen, had waited long enough, and gave it to herself. We stood and applauded her. Some women bought themselves books and magazine subscriptions. One woman bought herself a power drill! The beauty of this new celebration was that it was still about love. We were practicing self-love and demonstrating love and affirmation for one another, complete exactly as we are, without regard for relationship status.

Here are a six more suggestions that could include both men and women friends for a non-couples Valentine celebration:

1. Invite folks over for a movie. You can choose a traditional love story with a happy ever after ending and poke fun at it, or not! Perhaps go totally opposite the love mood and watch a horror flick.

2. Host a craft party. You can choose a simple-to-complete project and have supplies and directions on hand. Creating something can be so satisfying!

3. If your friends are foodies, consider making a meal together, planning the menu in advance and sharing the course cooking duties.

4. How about meeting at the gym, working out hard, and then finding a decidedly non-romantic burger bar to replace all the calories you burned.

5. Maybe a wine tasting? You can set it up at a wine shop or have each guest bring a bottle and create a tasting bar at home. The host can provide some appropriate snacks.

6. If you are feeling particularly irreverent, host a card writing night. Have everyone bring a sappy, sweet Valentine card and then rewrite them from a snarky viewpoint. Laughter is always good! You could expand this to the snack part of the evening by having those little hearts or wafers with the sayings on them and rewrite those as well.

I think you see where I am going with this. I am suggesting you push back a bit against the overwhelmingly couple orientation of Valentine’s Day and be more playful with it. Celebrate you, your friends, and the joy of living. Make this Valentine’s Day uniquely YOU!

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Post Divorce Mindset Reboots

Post Divorce Mindset Reboots

Five Limiting Thoughts Reframed


If you have spent a great deal of time in and out of divorce court and lawyer’s offices you might be feeling a bit weary.  Most of your energy has been directed toward the process. It is in this space that regrets sometimes surface. Now is the perfect time to release any limiting thoughts. Let’s examine some common lingering regrets and replace them with fresh perspectives, new beginnings.



Regret #1

I stayed too long. Why did I waste so many years in that relationship?



You were in that relationship exactly as long as you were. Things take as long as they take. You are out now.



Every year from this point forward is a year where I consciously choose who and what is in my life.

 “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” –  Maya Angelou



Regret #2

 I deferred pursuing my personal dreams to prioritize him and our goals as a couple.



You believed in your marriage and your future together and thought your turn would come. You trusted that and were patient.



I’m proud of the contribution and commitment I made to the marriage. I now devote my drive and ambition to realize my dreams.


It is never too late to be what you might have been. ~ George Eliot





Regret #3


I do not have the wealth and assets we had as a couple.



You were a large part of how that wealth and assets were amassed.



Though the money and assets have been divided, my skills and abilities have not. I will use them to generate additional personal wealth.


Abundance is about being rich, with or without money. ~Suze Orman



Regret #4


I can no longer afford the standard of living I enjoyed while married.



There were two incomes, two people supporting that lifestyle. Now that same amount, or less depending on the divorce settlement, is supporting two separate households. This does not mean you will not live well. Think better, not bigger.




I have the freedom to take whatever space I choose and make it reflect my interests, who I am. I can unleash my creativity to make the perfect nest.


 Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu






Regret #5


I’ve lost so many friends.



The marriage is not the only relationship that ends with the divorce. You are now a single person and no longer fit into couples gatherings. Some people will decide they can only continue friendship with one of you. Your pursuit and creation of your new life may make some people uncomfortable. The world is full of people seeking new friends.




I am going to join some new groups or a new church and open my heart to all. This is my opportunity to create a new tribe. If some people have turned their back on me then it is because they are NOT my people. I seek and embrace my people


When people can walk away from you, let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left. ~ Reverend T. D. Jakes

Taking a firm grip on your thoughts, replacing unproductive thoughts with ones that move you forward, will give you a jumpstart on creating the life you desire and deserve.


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