musings, outings & adventures, photography, sacred sundays

Planning Your Creative Lulls

Creative cycles are normal.

The ebb and flow of my creative cycles can be extreme, marked by times of high productivity and manic moments where I get little sleep. I love the rush that comes from a million ideas flowing and I’m energized by the insights and connections that happen. Maintaining this intensity is humanly impossible. Invariably the tide turns and the ebb pulls back the energy, crashing my body that demands sleep. Either I drop from exhaustion or I fall ill. The creative lull kicks in and it generally takes time to get my creative juices flowing again.


In recent months, I’ve been focusing on the chakras which has me observing my energy levels, noticing what gives me energy and what zaps my energy.

For many weeks now, I’ve been in that glorious creative flow.


I’m curious to know, “How can I sustain my creative flow so I don’t crash?”


While the answer may seem obvious and simple to some, changing up my habits, isn’t so easy. I’ve had a breakthrough thanks to working with the root chakra. I’m realizing that I need to not only eat for energy and get to bed early, but I also need to schedule my creative lulls.


When my husband approached me on Saturday afternoon inviting me to go on a spontaneous road trip to Maine for the weekend, I couldn’t resist. I quickly packed a bag and we headed to Camden, Maine where we stayed for two nights.

Here was my chance to do an experiment, to leave everything behind and enjoy some R&R. No agenda. No to do list. No expectations.

Could this overachieving, workaholic truly getaway?

Can you even plan your creative lulls?

Even before we left the driveway, I felt like a kid.

“Adventure is out there!!” I exclaimed quoting my favorite character from UP!


There were magical moments at every turn.

At the top of Mount Battie, we watched the sunset on one side of the mountain and the nearly-full moon rise on the other side. Since it was also the Autumn Equinox, I thought about my personal harvest, the many lessons and blessings since the Spring Solstice.

I’m sure you are curious to see the view. I promise to show you when I get my hands on my husband’s photos. He has a sweet Sony camera and a talent for capturing landscapes.


Most people know me for my work with mandalas. Rightly so as I paused a lot of my other interests and pursuits to focus on this one area. For about four years I’ve been studying and building a body of work around mandalas to include my book, workshops, and programs.

Before this all-things-mandala period, I loved going on outings with my camera and blogging about my creative and soulful life. While my husband has a knack for landscapes, I take the type of photos that you see in this post – vignettes, stolen moments, ordinary objects overlooked by most people – and where the elements of line, shape, texture, and color come together. Typically my subjects don’t move and are naturally poised in day light. In other words, I photograph still life.


Every sense was delighted on this trip.

We stopped in a yarn shop in Camden, Maine. I don’t knit or crochet, but perhaps one day I will so I can start collecting luscious skeins of yarn.

I adore color and I’m impressed with its healing properties; it can be energizing or calming. Each color has a vibrational frequency that corresponds to the chakra points in our bodies. I’ve been exploring and experimenting with the healing aspects of color in my chakra series.


On our way home, we stopped at Popham Beach, a location that has been on my bucket list for 7+ years. While others look for shells and other treasures to collect, I collect interesting shadows.


I also steal shots of Mr. Wonderful who refuses to pose for my photos.


Here’s a look at Fort Popham. Doesn’t it look so medieval? I love the lighting, colors, and textures.


Wherever I go, I carry a little notebook to record my ideas and creative flashes. This trip offered lots of inspiration for my upcoming workshops and programs, especially the sacral chakra which is about passion, creativity, and play.

Here I kicked off my shoes to show off my cute little iridescent blue toes. “Making Waves” was the name of the color and another example of a recent spontaneous outing where a friend and I took a morning off to have breakfast in Portsmouth, NH followed by getting pedicures. It felt so luxurious, nurturing, and decadent to pause the work to practice some self-love.

This stepping stone is one of several that you’ll find just outside the Camden Public Library.


I’ll leave you with this last photo taken at Peter Ott’s on the Water Restaurant in Camden. From where I was sitting, my view was of a fireplace with this fabulous distressed wood and jar of flowers.

For 2-1/2 days and two nights, I left my work behind. I unplugged from social media and savored time with my husband, camera, and the beautiful setting. I came back feeling so rested, rejuvenated, inspired, and ready to dive back into my creative work.

I also rediscovered my love for photography and blogging.

Now, I’m eagerly awaiting my next creative lull. I wonder where the adventure will take me?

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{soul hugs}



Blooming at the Right Time


For the last decade, I thought of myself as a late bloomer. This morning that story has changed. I had the realization that…

I am not too old.

I am the perfect age.

I am ready.

I feel prepared.

I have the experience & knowledge.

I love learning new things. It energizes me. Anything I need to know, I absorb like a sponge.

I have the maturity, wisdom, confidence, and heart.

I am not a late bloomer.

I am blooming right on time.

I know who I am and I really like myself.

I choose the best for me.

I no longer have to fit in places where I don’t belong or doesn’t resonate with who I am.

I say “Yes!” to me.

I can see Louise Hay smiling at me right now. I picture her bright, beautiful face and twinkling eyes. She agrees, I am blooming right on time and she is glad that I finally see it too.

What limiting beliefs are you ready to let go of? Join me for one of my journal workshops. It’s an opportunity to tune into what your soul wants you to know.

{soul hugs}
Kathryn Costa



Rediscovering a Little Treasure Box

TreasureBox1Originally published five years ago on June 29, 2013. I’m grateful that Fernando continues to be healthy and well.

My morning started with an unexpected visit to the Emergency Room. My husband was concerned that he was having a heart attack. In the three hours that we were there, I went from a quiet panic thinking I might lose my husband the same year I lost both of my parents, to feeling calm and confident that my husband has a strong heart and will be more than okay, he will be great.


By the afternoon, I was worn out and completely exhausted. My nerves were raw and I was feeling so vulnerable. Not only was the morning stressful, but I’ve been revisiting some unresolved issues from my past as I lead the Journey of the Heart online class. Tears come easily for me when I’m feeling vulnerable. They help me to release the stress in my body. I hugged my pillow and fell into a deep slumber.


When I woke up I was still feeling vulnerable and wishing I had my mother to comfort me. As I sat on the edge of my bed, I took off my watch and it fell to the floor. Something in my head told me to look under the bed. I generally don’t store stuff under the bed, but there was a basket with some odds and ends that I didn’t know what to do with and tucked inside was the tiny little treasure chest my mother had given me.




I had long forgotten this little sparkly box. I opened it up and found her little note tied with a red ribbon.




It reads, “The next time you feel out of sorts or just can’t cope, open this box.”




Inside you will find a mirror, look at it, in case you’ve forgotten, remember who you are.




Some extra hearts in case yours gets worn out.




A broomstick to fly away when it all gets to be too much.


An angel available 24/7 in case all the others are busy.




Some stars to remind you to reach for them when life gets too earthbound,




and a turtle to remind you to slow down.




Finding this little treasure chest from my mom was a reminder that she is close by to comfort me and that I’m loved.


One parting thought, I absolutely love my deck of Virtue cards. Quite randomly the top card today was “strength.” The following lines from the card stand out:


We grow in strength as we tackle life’s challenges
with courage and determination.
We deepen in strength when we
choose gentleness and practice patience.


My husband and I spent some time together cuddling up this evening and chatting about how grateful we are that he is in good health. We feel ready for the next chapter in our life.


If you are tackling life’s challenges, feel free to swing by here any time and look inside the sweet little treasure chest from my mom.


{soul hugs}
Kathryn Costa


PS – It warmed my heart to rediscover once again the little treasure box from my mom.


musings, sacred sundays, soulcollage

Turning 50: My Story is Changing

The Mystical Shaman asks, “Can you impartially observe the stories you tell yourself and others? Who would you become if you stopped telling the tales that have defined you up until now?”

For weeks now, I’ve been reflecting on my life and where my journey is in this moment. Tomorrow I turn 50 years old and I feel as though I am crossing over a threshold and stepping into a new life.


I gave myself a couple of birthday gifts including the beautiful oracle deck and book set called, “The Mystical Shaman” by Alberto Villoldo, Colette Baron-Reid, and Marcela Lobos.

Pictured above are the three cards that I pulled this week. The luscious, mysterious images and soul awakening questions invite me to pause before crossing the threshold of my next decade.

What have been the stories that I tell of my life to others and myself?


  • the single mother for many years
  • the string of losses
  • the unfulfilled worker not living her truth

While each of these stories have their wounds, they also have their gifts like how my grief led to tapping into my creativity to explore the mandala as a tool for self expression and healing; or how I followed my heart and ditched my day job.

The Mystical Shaman’s second question strikes a cord in me, “Who would you become if you stopped telling the tales that have defined you up until now?”

It may seem obvious but I’m realizing that I am no longer the single mother, in the depths of grief, or the unfulfilled worker. Yes, these are stories that led to where I am now, but they are not who I am.

“What if there were no need to explain you to anyone, not even to yourself?” asks the Mystical Shaman.

Next week I’ll be meeting many new people during my stay at the Omega Institute. What stories will I share? Do I need to explain myself?

Who am I?

I am Kathryn the kind-hearted.

I am connected to spirit.

I am a path finder, soul traveler, and a maker of magic.

I see beauty every where and in every one.

I am a dream weaver.

I follow my curiosity.

I make meaningful connections.

And, I am full of love, gratitude, wonder, and awe.

The Mystical Shaman adds, “The way to your extraordinary life is to become a blank slate and allow the form of your dreams and desires to show up, as it will. This is a sign of manifesting a life beyond your wildest dreams.”


Hanging on the wall in my studio is this assemblage of the Queen of Cups designed by my late friend Don Desmarais. When he was working on this series, I told him that I wanted the Queen of Cups. He thought of me as he created this piece. I see reflected back at me my round face.

Abruptly, the Queen came crashing down off the wall one day this week. I was focused on my computer and was startled to tears. You see, I believe Don is one of my guides who often wakes me up in the middle of the night whispering creative ideas or nudging me to shake off my fears and dive into my creativity. One night last week, in a moment of fear, I asked for a sign. “I’ll be looking tomorrow for it.” I said to the dark night.


The crashing Queen certainly got my attention. As I picked up the Queen to hang her back up, I noticed that the word that was on the heart had fallen off.


When Don created this piece, I was a single mother and he recognized in me a warm, loving woman who sacrificed and put others before myself.

I’m realizing that both Don and the Mystical Shaman have the same message for me that I no longer have to sacrifice. I no longer have to live as though I’m the single mother, in the depths of despair, or as the unfulfilled worker.

Now I get to decide what word rests on my heart and I can even change it, if I want.


The second card that I had pulled was Fire. As a Leo and with Aries in Chiron, I love the fire sign. While others may be afraid of the intensity, heat, and its ability to burn, I see fire as powerful tool for transformation. It will quickly burn and release what we offer up.

In the guidebook that goes with this oracle deck, there is an invitation to “warm your hands and your heart by your inner fire. Let it burn away your hardships; let it consume your pain and your sorrow…Light a candle or make a bonfire, and toss into the flames everything that has become stiff and painful.”


A little lantern has sat on a coffee table in my studio waiting for this moment to shine.


I pulled off the shelf a votive candle that I had designed several years ago for a conference gift that bears a label reading, “be salt & light.” Now felt like the perfect time to light this candle.

I dedicated the moment to forgiving a family member who I’m estranged from. In my heart, I had already come to terms with the situation but felt this was an opportunity to ceremoniously honor and release any lingering feelings. As I lit the candle, I sent my sincerest blessings and love.

I thought about the messages from the fire and mystical shaman cards when I lit this candle the second time. What stories, old hurts, and disappointments am I ready to let go of? I closed my eyes and in my imagination, I saw a swirl of colors leave my body and flow toward the flame. I watched as the flame turned from yellow to a beautiful array of colors as it transformed any pain and suffering into love and healing energy.

I opened my eyes and the message “Be salt & light” shines before me. It invites me to simply be me and to share my unique gifts with the world.


One night this week, I met up with my dear friend Maureen to create SoulCollage® cards. Ten years ago for my 40th birthday, I hired a SoulCollage® facilitator to teach me and several of my friends including Maureen about this expressive arts practice. It felt like coming around full circle as we sat at Maureen’s dining room table cutting, gluing, and chatting.

Pictured here are three cards that I made.

The first one is I am the one who makes the time to pause and reflect on my life. I learn from the bird to be the sacred observer. I look, I listen, and I sense the world around me without getting attached to any outcomes.

The second card is I am the one who is taking care of myself. As I turn 50, this is a time to cleanse by body, mind, and spirit. I am one who is curious about many modalities to support my health journey. Note – This card captures my intention for this next year and I’m on the right track down 19 lbs already! I’m taking an integrative approach that incorporates nutrition, exercise, energy work, and the expressive arts.

The third card is I am one who recognizes the spirit within me. I am a lover of beauty. I am one who follows my passion. I am one who pauses often in awe and wonder of my creative and soulful life.


The third card, Completion, speaks to endings and beginnings. It couldn’t be more perfect.

As I step into this next decade, I feel like a blank slate, open to new opportunities. There is so much more for me to learn about myself and this wondrous world that we live in. I’m eager to see what’s next, where my curiosity will take me, and who I’ll meet along the way.

Here’s to turning 50 and stepping into the best years of my life.

{soul hugs}

Kathryn Costa

Related Links

Mystical Shaman Oracle Deck & Guidebook – This is a must-have deck for all soul travelers!

Root Chakra Journal Workshop – The root chakra is known for getting grounded, feeling safe and connected. This is a unique workshop that combines soul journeys, oracle cards, and creative prompts. Limited Spaces. It’s filling fast. Learn more here.

Great Round Course – Explore your stories in this fascinating series where we create mandalas and immerse ourselves in the world of symbols, colors, numbers, and metaphor. Starts August 26th. Join me here.

SoulCollage® – Check out this practice of creating collages for insight and meaning.


journal, mandalas, musings, photography, soulcollage

Celebrating Ten Years


When asked, “How did you get to where you are today?” I reply, “I followed my curiosity and paid attention to what energized and excited me.”

It’s been ten years since my first blog post and I’ve come a long way. Those first posts were so awkward and dry. I didn’t know what to write but I showed up anyway posting photos of my art experiments.

I poked around Bloglandia and connected with other bloggers. We exchanged encouraging comments that inspired me to keep posting. I remember my very first comment came from a woman in Germany. I was impressed that my pictures and words were seen not only by someone I didn’t know, but someone living in a country so distant from my own. This exchange held the same awe and mystery that I felt sending and receiving pen pal letters some thirty years earlier.  Within a couple of months of blogging, my authentic voice began to emerge as I wrote about life as a single mother rediscovering the joy of creating for her own pleasure. The more I opened up, the more others connected with my words and ideas.

A whole new world opened up for me and my curiosity would lead me to try various mediums and techniques for expressing my inner landscape and philosophy on life. Within four months I found myself publishing weekly Soul Journal prompts and moderating a Yahoo board.

Now ten years later, I’ve published thousands of blog posts, offered a range of online courses, and trained with some highly skilled and talented facilitators. The best part has been connecting with kindred spirits from all over the world.

I’m grateful to have documented my soulful and creative life in blog posts, journals, photographs, and creative projects. This provided a record of where I’ve been and what I was thinking, feeling, and experiencing. To my surprise, I found evidence of an intention that would set the course to where I’m at today. In the very first year, I recorded my deepest wish: “My mission is to create and connect. My dream is to design inspiring hands-on activities that connect people with their Self and others.”

It’s so clear how all of the experiences and projects over the years stem from this one positive intention set ten years ago and today it remains true only with more clarity, confidence, and experience.

Highlights from the last ten years.


  • The Collage Diva blog was named after my love for cutting and gluing paper since I was child. The name also reflects how I see life as a collage with random experiences coming together in a cohesive, unexpected, and meaningful way.
  • 04/06/08 – The date of the first post. It wasn’t planned but the month, day, and year differ by two.
  • For my 40th birthday, I hosted a SoulCollage® Tea party and hired a facilitator for a private workshop for my friends.


  • Within four months of blogging, I started posting Soul Journal prompts and moderated a Yahoo board.


  • After a year of blogging I launched the True North Arts blog. The first post featured mandala art created by people who were following my Soul Journal series.
  • Over the course of the next nine years, my artwork appeared in a variety of exhibits and published in several books and magazines. I documented in photographs many adventures and outings over the years.
  • In 2009, I began studying Ikebana, Japanese flower arranging.
  • In 2010, I completed the SoulCollage® Facilitator Training. I started a study of the Olympic Greek Goddess Archetypes.
  • In 2011, I hosted gatherings called Dream Circles for SARK fans in the New England Area.


  • In 2012, I hosted a Virtual Wedding Event with my husband. It would be the first of many very creative online events.
  • In 2013, I completed the Virtues Project Facilitator Training. I learned the empowering practices of speaking the language of the virtues and the Art of Companioning.


  • In 2013, I developed the Journey of the Heart Journal and online course.



  • In 2017, I ditched the day job to focus full-time on my business. I traveled to Hawaii for the Ram Dass Open Your Heart in Paradise Retreat and piloted my Goddess Course.


  • I began 2018 teaching a mandala program at Kripalu Yoga and Health Center.
  • In 2018, I opened the Sharing Circle as a free membership website. Started the monthly mandala challenges in January.
  • In 2018, I completed the Soul Coaching® Facilitator Training.
  • In 2018, I developed the Soul Journey Mandala Series.
  • 04/06/18 – I relaunched True North Arts to offer an array of creative and contemplative activities for connecting with the wisdom of one’s soul.


Where do I stand today?

What is my mission? What do I see, hear, feel, do, and love? I took the figure from the center of my timeline mandala and answered these questions. At the heart of what I’ve been doing these last ten years is creating and connecting soul-to-soul.

With this new True North Arts website, I’m delighted to continue my exploration of the mandala and to return to where I began with blogging, vision journals, SoulCollage®, mixed media and documenting my soulful and creative life in photos and videos.

My latest curiosities are nature based as I explore the fascinating world of Shamanism. I recognize and celebrate that I’m a strong intuitive and want to guide others to listen and trust their own intuition using the expressive and contemplative arts.

It feels so good to have such clarity and conviction. I’m excited to see where my curiosity will take us these next ten years!

Celebrate with me!

Each month I host a mandala challenge and for April, I’m inviting you to celebrate by creating a “Celebrate 10 Mandala.” I talk about the challenge in the video above.

Challenge Details

Mandala Gallery: Celebrating 10 Years!

Fourteen members of the 100 Mandalas Community created these mandalas to kick off the celebration. Click on the images for a closer look at each mandala and to see if you can spot all of the ways that they worked in the number 10. I am touched by the messages that each artist sent along with their mandala. You can read them when you enlarge the view.