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Core Desire Feelings

Core Desire Feelings- Lake Michigan

“Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have.” ― Danielle LaPorte

Peaceful, Creative, Connection, Authentic and Kind. These are my Core Desire Feelings. These are my guides. These are what I want to cultivate in my life beyond anything else.

I have resisted reading the Danielle LaPorte’s book the Desire Map since it came out because goal setting is a dangerous endeavor for me.

I know this may sound counter intuitive to accepted norms but for my mental health I tend to shy away from most goal setting or self-help programs. For myself, I find that I end up feeling worse about myself for having read someone’s five point plan to make all of my dreams come true or some book that says if I just do this, this and that then everything will be great.

The reality is my life is messy and never fits into an ideal that some fantastic person lays out. Plus I have a huge tendency to expect the impossible from myself. There is so much I want to achieve, so many dreams needing to be fulfilled. I use to jam pack my year plan with every single goal I had in my big book of dreams, and sure I would succeed at some, but most were out of my reach from the moment I set them to paper. So I often felt deflated and like a big fat loser for never being able to reach all of my goals. Which then lead to feelings of I suck and would get the “I am not good enough” ball rolling.

It is not that I am against goal setting per se, it is more I have learned over the years to be super kind to myself and not set too many. I do need a map as to where I am going and what I want to do. I have lived too much of my life just bumping into the next thing that popped up. I dream big but I know better than to hold myself to the fire of un-doable.

So I finally caved and picked the Desire Map audiobook because of the curiosity about the concept of Core Desire Feelings and setting goals based on how you want to feel instead of what you want to accomplish. I wrote about this a few week’s ago here. I think this approach can fit into my life and be a gentle guide that might work for me.

So I am taking my time and slowly working with the book (I do recommend getting the audio book because Danielle’s voice is so awesome). After many weeks of writing and contemplation, I have finally identified my Core Desire Feelings (CDF).

For those of you not familiar with the Desire Map, CDF’s are how I want to feel, they are the guides for choosing what I want to do in my life. These are the feelings I want to cultivate with my efforts. When faced with a new opportunity I can stop, check in and ask, is this project, goal or whatever going to help me feel the way I want to feel or not.

This is a map I can use to set goals that will not leave me feeling not good enough, will not trigger my perfection monster and will help me move my life in the direction of what is good and right for me.

Even though I have not finished setting goals, I already find myself asking myself if what I am doing is in alignment with how I want to feel. I am even letting go of some activities and prioritizing others because I know I will feel peaceful or connected to others. I know the courage to create and open registration for Honor Your Voice is because it helps me feel creative, connected and authentic.

So the next adventure is setting goals. May I have realistic, loving and kind expectations of myself but most important, may I remember that it is about how I want to feel not what I accomplish.

If you haven’t checked out the Desire Map yet, I highly recommend it. It will be worth your time.


Don’t forget registration for Honor Your Voice-An online Creative Writing Retreat is open and I am offering special early bird pricing until October 31st. Let’s write together.



Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Following my path

“Writing is the practice of asserting yourself.”— Natalie Goldberg

Life is brilliant right now. I mean glowing vibrant reds, yellows and oranges. I feel like I am living in a candy world of dense color as fall takes hold and sails us forward toward our coming incubation. Today the sky is endless blue, clear and bright. The air, crisp and brisk. I feel alive and buoyant. Even yesterday with the endless rains and gray that would not relent, I still felt charged with life. I always do in the fall. Fall is the time of new beginnings for me and for gathering the harvest of the last year.

Looking back over the last few months, even though it felt like I wasn’t doing much, I can see how I have planted the seeds for my writing and for how I can offer others the opportunity to find and access their writing voice.

Ever since D. died over 2 years ago, I have worked towards reclaiming my voice, my words and my purpose. I have tried to find out what my next is and where I fit into the world after what was my foundation was ripped away. My whole life was turned upside down and made a new when he died. Now I feel like I am beginning to reap some of the hard work of the last few years.

When I started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing or why I was doing it. I just knew I needed to do something creative and be accountable to someone out there. Composing a life where writing is not only a practice but something I can share with others was a lifelong dream. A dream I didn’t think I deserved to have come true. So starting my blog was the first time I ever put my writing out there for the world to read. It was scary and it was the best thing I ever did for myself. Even though I was still grieving deeply, I felt alive and purposeful. Instead of just telling myself I was going to be okay, I felt it in my bones. Writing is my way of asserting myself and my dreams.

Now a couple of years later as I am getting ready to open registration for my first creative writing retreat I am flooded with the same feelings. I feel in my bones that I am in alignment with my dreams. I am filled with clarity and purpose as I write out the retreat schedule and guidelines. I am amazing myself as I set up PayPal, my website and connect my email lists. I am really doing this and I never thought I was capable or deserved to do something I have always dreamed of doing—something I have always loved.

I am going to be honest, I am scared this is not going to work. I am scared not enough people will sign up for the retreat in November. However, I am not scared about leading the retreat. That I know I can do, that is why I am taking this huge risk, investing my time and money. I know the power of creative writing and I want to empower others by sharing this gift.

All that said, here is this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart. It is a mix of body compassion, mindfulness and some writing links.

Why thinking you’re ugly is bad for you- This is an enlightening TED talk by Meaghan Ramsey. Yes, let’s celebrate what we do, not what we look like.

What the Dying Really Regret by Kerry Egan- This is a powerful essay reflecting on how we take our bodies for granted. A must read for anyone who has ever grappled with body shame or disdain.

The Meaning of Life: Buddhism in America-Thanks to one huggable ex-monk. This is a great article about Jack Kornfield and western Buddhism.

Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway and Nearby- I don’t have this book by Ms. Solnit yet but after reading this piece on Brainpickings, it is on my wish list.

Writing Your Way Home by Pat Schneider- Here Pat talks about the importance of honoring your voice that is uniquely yours alone and in doing so, you honor your past and your heritage.

May you be filled with vivid joy and embrace new beginnings this week. ~Kira

I am opening registration for Honor Your Voice- An online Creative Writing Retreat on October 20, 2014. Space is limited to 10 writers and I am offering early bird pricing of only $69 until October 31st, after that it goes back up to $89. So sign up and let’s write together.




Creative Genius

Creative GeniusThe Amherst Writers and Artists Method is pure magic for me. One of the fundamental principles of the AWA Method is that everybody is born with Creative Genius. One of the many gifts of the AWA method is that you can access new fresh writing from the Creative Genius part of you. This is an infinite place within your mind and the act of writing from prompts or what images, words, thoughts, sounds or smells first float up is your Creative Genius speaking to you.

The AWA method is about learning to follow the trail of words and images no matter how much the next impulse seems crazy, how much it does not make sense, how illogical or confusing. It is writing past the voices inside that tell you to stop, or you are dumb or you don’t know what you are doing.

The AWA method creates an environment where you learn to trust your Creative Genius a ten or twenty-minute write at a time, knowing it will take you down deep inside of you to places and associations you didn’t know were possible. Often heard in workshops and retreats, “That came from me?” or “I wrote that?”, all said in disbelief.

I am stunned at the depth and breadth of vulnerability that arises for me in an AWA creative writing workshop. Being part of a writing workshop gives me an opportunity to dive in deep to the tender places I normally keep under lock and key—under layers of be appropriate, be perfect, be good enough. You know, those mantras that make me feel flat and stressed. That tell me to give it up and I suck.

My Creative Genius is the now deep voice echoing off the chambers of my heart’s loose fitting valves. My Creative Genius is the warm voice inside that warns of danger when I am getting too tight and trying to be perfect. It is the voice that hides under bushes of my youth like the lilac that blooms once a year for a few brief weeks in the spring.  A bush that sparkles sweetness and purple, and dances on the fresh ions of spring when the dampness of the night stays a bit too long. It wraps around my tiny fingers clinging to the blue blanket piled and scratchy against my cheek. It gives me access to things forgotten and things unknown.

It is when I sit down in an AWA creative writing workshop I am able to access these images and let them flow my hand. It is where I am able to feel safe to share my tender words by reading them out loud. Where I can hear the power of my voice say my words out loud. Where I am able to hear what stayed with others and know that my words were heard. Where I am able to know, for that moment, I exist, my words matter and someone heard them.

I don’t know anywhere else where I can experience this and where my Creative Genius feels safe to come out and spill on the page. The great thing is, once I access my Creative Genius in the safety of an AWA workshop, it starts to emerge more readily in other areas. I don’t spend as much time staring at the blank page and writing becomes easier.

So if you want to access your Creative Genius and sit in awe of your words, your voice, your power, then I do hope you will consider registering for Honor Your Voice- an online creative writing retreat. I will be offering early bird pricing for members on my email list, so be sure to sign up here. Registration opens soon.


Inspiration to Open Your Heart

His last Chair

I am sitting in my writing studio holding a cup of green jasmine hot tea staring at the screen of my MacBook. I keep wanting to leave the white space of the empty page to click on other open tabs, Facebook, Email, Hootsuite—temptations I know I am not alone in grappling with.

The world is so quiet and still this morning, Jay is still asleep, the cars on the highway are few and once in a while I hear a crow calling. A heavy frost coats the grass and dead flowers in the garden. It is me alone, clicking on the keys, and the furnace kicking on every once in a while. I love Sunday mornings like this. Space and time to write, to wander through books, to doodle. Time to stare at the screen and daydream. On Sunday mornings I don’t have to have it all together in order to stay on schedule like I do on the weekdays. I relish these times.

Aside from the quiet and the removal of pressure to have it all together, what makes my heart sing about Sunday mornings is I can follow my creative muse. I tend to create more work and better quality work than I do when I am being “disciplined” or a taskmaster. Yes, I need to shut down the open tabs. Yes, I need to stay on task but I just flow better when I know I have open time and space to follow a thought or an idea to see where it will take me. I have time to sink into the spaces inside and see what wants to be said. I am always surprised and often amused by what I create on Sunday Mornings.

I do have a lot I want to work on today, I have writing due to Jenna at the end of the month and I am launching my online creative writing retreat, Honor Your Voice (I hope you will join me). There is a lot going on, but still I know Sunday Morning is open for me to wander a bit.

Sunday mornings are also Inspiration to Open Your Heart days. I love sharing links and information I found inspiring during the week.

6 Creatives Who Prove You Can Hold a Day Job and Still Make Awesome Art- Summer Pierre, author of Artists in the Office and other books is one of the six creatives showcased in this article. Helpful advice for those of who engage in other work in addition to their creative work to help make ends meet.

Why Saying is Believing-The Science of Self-talk- There is no longer a reason to be embarrassed by self-talk. Science proves it is helpful and works. I heard this story on the way to work the other day and had to pull over to listen. Powerful ideas about why and how self-talk can help make changes in your life. I can’t tell you how many times I am saying to myself, “You can do this Kira.” So go on, start talking to yourself.

Dealing with Writers Doubt and the If Then Loop by JennaMcGuiggan- Yup, I struggle with writers doubt all the time. My favorite line from this post, “We doubt and worry about the things we care about.”  I need to remember this the next time I am falling in a doubt spiral. I highly recommend you go check this out.

Pema Chodron on the importance of unplugging- Like so many others, Pema’s work has changed my life for the good. I started reading and listening to her teachings when I first started a consistent meditation practice back in 2008. With her gentle teachings I have learned to let go of so much and embraced living with an open heart. Here she speaks about the need to unplug and get still in our lives.

The source of creativity- Here is a collection of TED talks about creativity.

And finally, Honor Your Voice- An online creative writing retreat is happening Saturday, November 15, 2014. Come write with me and others to open your heart. Registration is not open yet but sign up and get on the mailing list to be the first to know when it does. Also, I am offering Early Bird pricing for mailing list subscribers. So go sign up here.

May your coming week be filled with moments to be still and hear your heart. ~Kira




Why Amherst Writers and Artists

Why Amherst Writers and Artist

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”  ― Nora Ephron

The other day I was asked by a friend, why Amherst Writers and Artists? She wanted to know how on earth did I get connected with this writing method that has changed my life.

In 2003 I was searching for writing group to help me write regularly. I found a woman named Melodie on the internet who ran a writing workshop in my town on Saturday mornings. I am not sure where the courage to send her an email telling her I was looking for my tribe, asking if I could join her writing workshop came from. Perhaps it was desperation to connect with other writers and creatives after being out of art school for a few years. Or perhaps it was feeling like the creative life force was being drained from my soul as I was finding my way in what would become a thriving career in non-profit development and management while being a single mom.

I still can not tell you exactly where that boldness and daring came from, because I can tell you it was not in my character, especially because it involved writing, to reach out and ask if I could be part of something. But I did and Melodie responded that she would be delighted to have me join her workshop. The workshop met every other Saturday in her home at 10:00 am. I had no idea my life was going to change and I would soon have the courage and inner trust to call myself a writer—not only call myself a writer but for the first time in my life feel like I was writer. The experience of participating in the writing workshops showed me that I had a voice and I belonged.

Synchronicity, providence, the universal good, whatever you want to call it, was working in full force that day I searched for writing groups in my hometown on the internet. I found the writing group that matched my needs—exactly. Ever since I can remember words and stories have bubble up from the core of who I am but was always elusive. Writing is a tender act and for me, one shrouded in deep thick shame and humiliation.

Writing and reading has always been hard for me. I have dyslexia with dysgraphia but I was not diagnosed until I was almost 11 years old. As a result, I didn’t learn how to functionally read or write beyond scrawling my name and a few simple words until 5th grade. I remember way too many days sitting alone at my desk during recess grasping a yellow wood pencil, trying so hard to write the number 6 over and over in tiny boxes on the blue lined graph paper. Tears streamed down my face as I grasped harder and harder to the point sores would form my fingers and bleed all over the paper.

Like many kids with learning disabilities I was told I was stupid, dumb, lazy. My mother and teachers had no idea what to do with me or how to teach me. I used to carry around books and pretend I could read them. I loved going to the library and just hanging out with all of the books. Magic was infused in shelves of stories and myths even though I couldn’t read. I knew I wanted to write books and stories one day, no matter that others told me I was not capable.

So the AWA method is so important to me because it was the first place I was acknowledged as a writer and my words were heard. It was in AWA workshops I began unpack and throw away deeply embedded shame and embarrassment about my ability to write and read. It was a safe place I could explore my own creative genius and watch words flow from my pen. I can’t tell you how many times I sat stunned staring at the words tumbling out of me.

I spent 7 years writing on Saturday mornings with a group of strong, thoughtful and smart woman from all backgrounds. Melodie finally retired and decided to not continue the workshops. It was a huge loss and ever since I have wanted to lead AWA workshops, for not only myself but all of the other women in world who are writers but too afraid to claim it or doubt their ability to write from the heart.

I am so grateful for my courage to reach out and ask to be part of the workshop back in 2003 and for Melodie’s gentle willingness to welcome me into her workshop. I am beyond grateful for the AWA method and the thousands of other writers who continue to show up, write what is inside and listen to others read their work.

The AWA method is truly a miraculous process and I hope you will consider joining me for Honor Your Voice- an online one day creative writing retreat this November or Writing to Open Your Heart- a weekly creative writing workshop starting in January 2015.



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