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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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?

If you enjoyed this blog post and would like more, subscribe to my newsletter. It’s the best way to stay in touch with all of my creative projects, musings, and offerings.

{soul hugs}

Kathryn

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.

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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?

There’s…

  • 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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

outings & adventures, photography, sacred sundays, watercolor

Sacred Sundays, Lupines, and Lobster Coves

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Seven months ago I made some lifestyle changes and declared Sundays as sacred. What makes them sacred? I unplug from social media and I don’t do any work; I spend quality time with my husband, savor nature, and create art. The idea is to slow down.

What I’ve discovered is how much I look forward to Sundays. My body, mind, and spirit deeply relaxes and I experience an inner peace and joy. I had no idea how much stress I was carrying until I made time to rest and renew on a regular basis.

Last Sunday, my husband and I ventured over to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine.

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It’s lupine season here in New England and I was in awe of the reds and dark pinks found at the gardens.

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I’ve only seen the blues, light pinks, and white lupines.

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Hens and chicks are a favorite of mine from the succulent family.

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I snapped these shots to give me ideas for color combinations to use in future mandala projects.

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Here we find a little shelter from the hot midday sun where the shadows captivated my attention.

While many flowers were not blooming at this time, I enjoyed how the wind played with the sculptures.

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Often when we set out, we have an idea of where we’ll go but we are always open to the unexpected blessings and surprises that show up. Much to our luck we discovered a sweet spot on Lobster Cove for a picnic.

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When we arrived late on a Sunday afternoon, we had the place to ourselves. It felt incredibly peaceful. The swing on a beautiful old tree called to me. I couldn’t remember the last time that I sat on a swing. As I kicked my legs out and back, I allowed my mind to relax into the moment. The crispy cool air chilled my face as I watched it gently ripple the water. It was the perfect way to end our day.

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Sometimes the weather isn’t conducive for an outing or work demands our attention. Sacred Sundays then become Sacred Mondays or in this case Sacred Thursday. I googled, “breakfast with an ocean view” and found a restaurant called, “The Lobster Cove” in York Beach, Maine.

Our late morning arrival on a weekday meant we had our pick of seats on the deck.

We had ocean views on one side and …

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views of this marshy area on the other side.

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Looking down, little shadow mandalas dotted the deck.

As I look at the shadow photos in this post, thoughts go to Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain who both appeared successful and having so much light to offer the world yet this week both took their own lives. While I don’t know the underlying issues and reasons for their deaths, what I do know is that our culture needs more Sacred Sundays, more unplugging, more time face-to-face hanging out with loved one, more time in nature, and more time getting creative or active.

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For today’s Sacred Sunday, I was inspired by the recurring “lobster cove” theme from our recent two outings. I pulled out my Arteza water-based brush pens to create this colorful lobster. There is a spontaneity and unpredictability with watercolors and it’s so much fun to see how the water interacts with the colors. I find myself giddy and playing like a kid.

How about you? Are you always plugged in? Carve out some time this week to pull the plug, find a swing at a nearby park or gather up some art supplies to make something.